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The Square prepares
Times photo: Brenda Steurer Visitors to the Square will find themselves parking on the south and west sides when construction resumes on the corner of 10th Street and 17th Avenue. Businesses on that corner still will be accessible by foot.
MONROE - Some business owners on the Square are placing a lot of faith in their customers to endure the continual changes of parking and traffic patterns during construction this summer.

The streetscape construction project is expected to produce many beautifying changes as parking meters are replaced in favor of more trees.

But the temporary changes during the process, like rerouting traffic and moving parking to an inner ring, will require customers to walk a bit more than in the past to get to their favorite stores.

"My customers will walk," said Cherie Hughes, owner of The Dilly Bean on the corner of 17th Avenue and 10th Street, where the construction is planned to start.

"Most of the time they don't like to park in front of the store anyway," she said. "We'll see how it goes."

Hughes is not planning any special store events to attract customers to her business.

A groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at 10th Street and 17th Avenue will kick off the estimated $4.2 million downtown Square reconstruction and design project.

A member of the Monroe Main Street Promotion Committee, Hughes said the events on the Square planned for the summer still will go on, even if they have to move a bit down the street to stay out of the way of construction.

Scott Buol, owner of Chocolate Temptations, which has been on the Square for 14 years, said his store never has specials.

"We don't discount our work, so don't wait for a sale," he said smiling.

Construction shouldn't stop his customers; they come into the shop because they want something, he added.

The key to getting people to come back to his store is to offer consistent service and to treat everybody special, he said.

"We make them feel better when they leave than when they came in," he said.

Buol said half of his customers come from outside Monroe, and that rate jumps to 75 percent on Friday and Saturday.

Chocolate Temptations also ships to the 48 continental states and Alaska.

"Business people have to invite people to come back," Buol said.

Bonnie Hagerty said her store, Bauman Kitchens and Giftware, isn't making any special customer attraction plans either. It has been in business 50 years and located on the Square for more than 30 years.

"I don't know what's going to happen," she said.

The City of Monroe awarded E & N Hughes Company Inc. a contract in the sum of $2.9 million on May 5.

E & N Hughes could be given the go-ahead to start as early as June 4, if city financing has been approved. The project is planned to be completed by mid-November.

Construction will concentrate on one corner of the Square at a time, starting from the northeast and move counter clockwise.

Buol is concerned that construction hasn't started yet.

"You don't want them to rush through it, or they'll have to come back and do it over," he said.