OUR VIEW: City sidewalk alcohol plan is opportunity, not problemOur City Council is missing the proverbial forest for the trees with its overly cautious approach to allowing alcohol service on sidewalks in front of downtown eateries.
Our City Council is missing the proverbial forest for the trees with its overly cautious approach to allowing alcohol service on sidewalks in front of downtown eateries.
Ideally, the alcohol proposal should be approved and treated as just one small part of an overall overhaul of our downtown district.
We should be talking about a streetscape project to improve the look of downtown and make it more pedestrian friendly. We should be talking about the sad shape of so many historic buildings downtown, and what the public and private sectors can do together to save these structures from ruin. We should be talking about bringing new investments into the downtown area to bolster and spark new public and private development.
Instead, we’re bickering about allowing somebody to walk about 15 steps with their meal and alcoholic drink from a table inside a restaurant to a table just outside the restaurant on a sidewalk. Sure, there are some small details regarding liability and other concerns to briefly consider, but those details should be just a checklist on the way to approving the proposal, not a roadblock.
Cities all over the world allow dining with alcohol on sidewalks to create a better atmosphere for commerce and community in their downtown centers. It’s not a problem to be debated to death. It’s an opportunity to be seized.
So, we challenge our mayor, City Council and Mitchell Main Street & Beyond to use this issue as the lead-in to a much larger effort of downtown revitalization. Mitchell’s geographic and cultural heart has some thriving spots but is in otherwise rough shape. Our choices today and in the future will determine whether our downtown becomes a liability or a showplace.
We should follow the example of so many others around the world and build our downtown district into a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood where people want to work, shop, play and, yes, maybe even have a drink or two at a sidewalk table.