April 26, 2013

City approves outdoor dining

PLATTSBURGH — There will be outdoor dining in the City of Plattsburgh this summer.

Councilors agreed Thursday night to allow three downtown restaurants to utilize parking spaces in the street in front of their businesses to install tables and umbrellas for outdoor dining from May 1 through Sept. 30.

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Outdoor dining will be available in front of Irises Cafe and The Pepper on City Hall Place and at Olive Ridley’s on Court Street. Concrete barriers will be installed at the owner’s expense to create the dining areas.

The council granted approval for outdoor dining for Champlain Wine Company, also on City Hall Place, two weeks ago, but tabled the requests from the other three restaurants when concerns about safety and the loss of parking were brought up.

The restaurant owners appeared before the council’s Community Relations Committee last week to plead their case. They said outdoor dining boosts sales not only for them, but for other businesses, and they have not heard of any complaints.

Councilors approved their requests Thursday night despite strong objections from Councilor George Rabideau (R-Ward 3), who reiterated his concerns about safety and the loss of valuable parking spaces.

“These parking spaces are for the public, the elderly and for those who can’t move around as good who might want to go to some of the other businesses down there,” Rabideau said.

“We have to think of everyone when we vote, not just those who will prosper from this.”

Carol McLean, owner of Irises, told councilors before Thursday’s meeting that outdoor dining has benefited her business greatly since she began the practice in 2006.

“I know it’s difficult to strike a balance between competing interests, but for us, outdoor dining accounts for more than 30 percent of our summer sales,” she said.

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