PLATTSBURGH — City of Plattsburgh councilors are debating whether they want to allow downtown restaurants to continue to have outdoor seating in the summer.
At their recent meeting, councilors discussed requests from Irises Cafe, Champlain Wine Company and The Pepper, all on City Hall Place, and Olive Ridley’s on Court Street to utilize city parking spaces for outdoor seating.
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Outdoor dining began in 2006 in front of Irises. The Pepper and Olive Ridley’s added seating in 2010, and Champlain Wine Company did so last year.
But this year, Councilor George Rabideau (R-Ward 3), who has objected in the past, again raised the issue of safety.
The outdoor-seating areas in the street in front of the restaurants are cordoned off by concrete barriers installed by the city’s Department of Public Works. The restaurants pay for the barriers and the installation costs.
Irises typically uses four parking spaces, while The Pepper and Olive Ridley’s use two. Champlain Wine Company, on the corner of City Hall Place and Bridge Street, uses one.
Rabideau said he thinks dining in the street could be hazardous so close to traffic. he also said it takes away valuable parking spaces, which could affect the elderly or those who are not very mobile.
Councilor Mark Tiffer (D-Ward 2) said outdoor seating can be found in just about every city in the nation and that while using the concrete barriers may not be the most attractive method, it is the only feasible way.
“It (outdoor seating) draws business, and it really helps business,” he said.
“They wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t good for business.”
Carol McLean, owner of Irises, agrees with Tiffer.
“This (summer) is prime time for small independent restaurants, and we do a great business then, and it helps make up for the slow time in January,” she said.