DUNEDIN — City officials have a recipe to help restaurants serve more patrons as they cope with the coronavirus.
In recent weeks they have been discussing plans with business leaders to expand outdoor seating downtown. City Special Events Coordinator Jorie Peterson updated city commissioners on those plans May 19.
In essence, city officials will allow restaurants to use some parking spaces along Main Street to seat customers. Two parking spaces are expected to be removed in the area in front of the Caledonia Brewing Co. at 587 Main St. City officials expected to supply 15 water-filled barricades to cordon off the area and accommodate 12 tables.
Four parking spaces would have to be removed in front of Flanagan's and Stirling Wine on the east side of Main Street, requiring 18 barriers to accommodate up to about nine tables.
West on Main Street, 17 barricades will be required to accompany 12 tables in front of Casa Tina's. No parking spaces would have to be removed.
City Manager Jennifer Bramley said as part of the plan parking places for the handicapped need to remain in place. Sidewalks also need to remain open so people can walk back and forth between businesses and don't have to walk around barriers.
"We are putting all those things together in a program," she said.
The cost of the plan is about $17,000. Bramley said she thinks it's a good investment, adding that barriers may be placed for a long time.
"This program needs to work. It really does," she said. "It's the property owners and restaurateurs' job to ensure it works. I'm sure they will. The have been so responsible up to this point," Bramley said.
City officials also are allowing restaurants to expand into parking lots. Bramley said city officials will put barriers on site but will not place them; that's up to property owners.
Commissioner Deborah Kynes thanked Peterson and Bramley for their work.
"I think you came to a very good solution that will help a lot of people," she said.
Commissioner Heather Gracy was glad to get assurances that city officials are not going to relax any points of accessibility with respect to the Disability Act or the Florida building codes.
Commissioner Jeff Gow also complimented staff's efforts on the plan, adding, "I’m a big fan of we just want to do this one time so let's make sure we do it safely."
Staff will discuss ways to get the word out about the plan to merchants.