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Lowering Fee May Help Downtown Restaurants During Tough Time

It would be interesting to see if downtown businesses interested in pursuing outside dining can afford to use the parklets being discussed by city officials.

Parklets are platforms that would be used on parking locations outside of a restaurant to allow the business to have more room to seat customers. The city is proposing a $75 permit for a parklet as well as a $200 charge for each parking space that would be used.

Compare Jamestown’s proposed fee with De Pere, Wisc., a city of about 25,000 people with a median household income of $70,500. De Pere charges a $100 fee.

The fee amount is important. De Pere’s median household income of $70,500 is roughly double Jamestown’s $31,875. That number is important as a measure of disposable income — it’s more likely that De Pere, with its higher disposable income, will generate enough diners to make the parklet pay for itself. That will likely take longer in Jamestown. Syracuse doesn’t have parklets per se, but is waiving its typical fees for Sidewalk Cafe Permits — which are $50 per season for less than 200 square feet, rising up to $300 for more than 1,000 square feet — to help its downtown restaurants.

The parklet idea is worth pursuing. Outdoor dining will help downtown restaurants seat more people and make more money. But we wonder about the logic of charging almost three times the amount when compared to a similar city using parklets.

The idea is to help local businesses during a tough time. Lowering the fee would help do that.

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