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City Officials Should Reprogram Areas That Are Underused

Downtown business owners are asking for the city’s help to allow for more outdoor seating and entertainment.

Similar requests have been a couple of times over the years, with one reason outdoor seating being set aside is the lack of room on many city sidewalks for dining to coexist with walkers. There have always been relatively few places downtown where the two could reasonably co-exist. Where walkers and diners can coexist, the code should be relaxed to do so.

Perhaps city officials and the City Council can consider reprogramming some areas that are underused? For example, there is a small lot on Main Street where a building was demolished several years ago. A wrought-iron fence has been put up and some greenery planted to beautify the lot, but it could make a cozy little dining area for The Pub, Lisciandro’s, Havana Cuban Cafe and the Chop House on Main. Another lot has been created on Second Street that would need to be backfilled and beautified. Perhaps there is a similar area on Washington Street that could serve El Jarocho and the Beer Snob.

The business owners hope that outdoor seating and entertainment will help coax people out of their shell as businesses begin the slow process of reopening. Open-air seating also can expand the number of customers a small business can serve during a time when social distancing will limit how many they can have inside.

This is a good idea for the city and its partners to consider. Not only can it have payoffs now, but in the future when one hopes tourism traffic driven by the National Comedy Center begins to pick up.

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