After further discussion, city officials, chamber leaders and business owners have decided that the best use of downtown streets this summer would, in fact, be as streets.
Officials had previously announced that a portion of Northwest 2nd Avenue would be closed every last weekend of the month through September to facilitate a “Streatery,” designed to give diners, shoppers and other patrons more room to enjoy what downtown Canby has to offer.
The project had already been cut back. It was supposed to start last month, but leaders canceled the first weekend when they realized more time was needed to plan and successfully implement the concept.
City Economic Development Director Jamie Stickel said the decision to pull the plug altogether was made after a Zoom meeting last week between the city, chamber and affected businesses.
“After talking through some of the logistics, we decided impeding parking in favor of seating was not quite right,” she said. “We are trying to determine if there are other places we can incorporate more seating without closing access to businesses.”
Initially described as involving the half-block section of NW 2nd Avenue between Holly and the raised crosswalk near Wells Fargo Bank, Wayward Sandwiches owner Matt Morrissey told the Canby Now Podcast that he pitched the idea of moving the “Streatery” to different areas each month, to allow more businesses to take full advantage.
Ultimately, most business owners had misgivings for various reasons, and weren’t sure the concept would help them. Several restaurants would have had to extend their hours or bring on additional staff to cover the larger area.
And at least one business owner said they’d rather have the parking spaces that the “Streatery” would cannibalize.
“It was a good idea, but when it came down to it, it just seemed to raise more questions than it really answered,” Morrissey said. “But it did facilitate a good conversation about what we can to drive people to the downtown area. I think we’re all of the same mind that we want to do things that help the entire downtown.”
Similar initiatives have been implemented in downtown corridors in cities across the country. Such concepts allow restaurants to expand their outdoor dining capacity amid coronavirus guidelines that limit indoor seating, and offer potential visitors something fun to do in a summer when most large events are canceled.
There’s no question that the coronavirus pandemic — and the related shutdown — has wrought havoc on the economy. Independently owned and operated restaurants, bars and retail operations, many of which are located in downtown Canby, have been hit particularly hard.
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