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County now working with Palm Springs art galleries as construction slows business

The county is stepping in to help as a months-long road construction is impacting business in south Palm Springs.

For months, a road leading to the Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs has been blocked due to a Riverside County flood control project, stalling business for about a dozen galleires. Some even expressed fears that the galleries in the Backstreet Art District may be forced to close their doors permanently.

We originally spoke with gallery owners about the issue last week.

“It impedes people getting in here. And of course, it messes up parking because they can't park on the street. They can't. There's nowhere for them to go. They'll drive in and see they can't park and they'll leave," said Rae Harrell, who owns a gallery in the Backstreet Art District.

She’s been at this location for 2 years. Harrell says she understands the need for the construction, but says it’s hurting business even more as they go through the slow summer season.

“I'm not against the work and I'm not against the county or the workers. I feel like everybody's doing the best they can. It really has affected our business and it's hard enough in this business without that obstruction, you know, blocking our ability to make an income," Harrell said.

The county says this ongoing construction will prevent future flooding from impacting the Backstreet Arts District.

“That all comes right down into this intersection and floods out both the intersection parts of the art district buildings. And so it's a very real flood risk for these people," said Claudio Padres, who is the Assistant Chief Engineer for the Riverside County Flood Control District.

Padres says newly installed ‘catch basins’ will help redirect stormwater.

Catch Basins installed by the county

“It's a storm drain pipe that's eight feet in diameter that's already underneath this road," he explained. "That pipe is for picking up water off of all of these mountain sides that you'll see here... what the storm drain pipe is going to do is intercept those floodwaters and convey them safely downstream."

After hearing about the concerns from the galleries, Padres says the county is dedicated to finding a solution.

“We are buying some additional signs that specifically will say how to follow to get to the Arts District specifically," he added. "We do our best working with the community to try to get information out and then also hear from them when things aren't working and we adapt as we go.”

Padres has been working closely with Tom Ross, the gallery owner who first brought the issue up with the county.

“It's gotten down really, pretty much. Most days nobody coming in, and you know, I usually do get some business in the summer and I'm not," Ross said.

Ross, who’s been at his location for 7 years, tells us they’ve worked with the county to get more signage up to help support the Backstreet Art District.

“We did a little tour around the complex and pointed out where we needed signs and how it'd be better," he said.

Although it’s been a tough few months maneuvering past the blocked roads, Ross tells us he's happy to be working with the county to get business back up.

The county says they're aiming to have this construction completed by early September.

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Samantha Lomibao

Samantha joined KESQ News Channel 3 in May 2021. Learn more about Samantha here here.


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