The Golden City Council is partially closing four downtown blocks to vehicle traffic during the week and fully closing them to vehicles on weekends to give downtown businesses more room to serve …
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The Golden City Council is partially closing four downtown blocks to vehicle traffic during the week and fully closing them to vehicles on weekends to give downtown businesses more room to serve customers while adhering with social distancing requirements.
The agreed-to plan calls for Washington Avenue from 11th to 13th Streets and 12th Street from Miner’s Alley to Prospector’s Alley to be reduced down to one lane in each direction on weekdays with the parking lane being able to be utilized for restaurant seating, retail displays and other business uses.
On weekends, those blocks will be closed to vehicles entirely with the parking lanes still being used for business purposes while the center of the street would be open only to pedestrians. However, the pedestrian area in the center of the street, which would be 20 to 24 feet, would also be accessible to emergency vehicles.
Cities across Colorado began scrambling to look into how to allow restaurants and other businesses to utilize outside spaces adjacent to their buildings to serve customers after Gov. Jared Polis announced on May 25 that restaurants could begin dine-in service again on May 27, provided that restaurants only be open to 50% of their regular occupancy and serve no more than 50 people at once. Restaurants must also space tables at least six feet apart.
Under the new city plan, businesses will need to apply for a license allowing them to place restaurant seating, retail displays or other offerings in the parking lane space. Restaurants seeking to serve alcohol within the space will also need to file for a liquor permit modification.
However, Golden Community and Economic Director Steve Glueck said city staff are also working to implement procedures that will allow for expedited processing of those applications.
The ability for businesses to apply for city permission to utilize such spaces for seating or displays has been made possible by a resolution passed by the city council on May 28 granting the city manager the temporary authority to permit sales on sidewalks, parking lanes and alleys in Golden. The resolution also suspends off-street parking requirements in all zoning districts to allow for outdoor business operations within those areas dedicated to parking.
The partial closure of the selected blocks of Washington Avenue and 12th Street took place on May 29 with the first full weekend closure set to start on June 6.
Casey Brown was among the city councilmembers who expressed support for a plan that would allow for different levels of access on weekdays and the weekend.
“It seems that on one hand on the weekends we are getting big rushes of people and with nowhere else to go and you can’t go inside the businesses the planters just get overwhelmed and people are everywhere so it’s clear we need more space,” he said. “But at the same time on the weekdays we are still attracting some crowds but I don’t think it’s as busy.”
Mayor Laura Weinberg said that while she wants to provide businesses more flexibility to serve customers, she had concerns that the street closure could attract crowds to downtown at a time when gatherings are risky.
“I’d like, with whatever closures we do, that we are not creating a scene,” she said. “The tables and the seating areas are under the control of the restaurants, that the retail spaces that are extending into the public space has control of the number of people in that area and that the city is not encouraging people to come downtown to hang out.”
Glueck said he will report back to the council about how the closures are going on June 11 so that further adjustments can be made, if needed. That conversation will be important, he said, because the council has granted the city relatively wide latitude to approve applications for outdoor business activities.
“We will report back on how it’s going recognizing that (the city) will do our best and make some errors and do some cool stuff too,” said Glueck.
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