Should Rockford Allow Use of Parking Lots for Outdoor Seating?
Rockford restaurants and bars will be finally be allowed to reopen starting Friday. The catch is the business must have outdoor sitting. There are a number of businesses that already have outdoor seating but some of those spaces are small and tight. This is the same scenario all over Illinois but in Oregon, the city is allowing restaurants and bars to use parking lots for extra seating. This is a genius idea. The process for that setup will begin today (Thursday, May 28), according to WIFR. The Mayor of Oregon is making sure all these businesses are able to afford this innovative idea.
Mayor Williams says the city will begin to put fencing up around parking lots Thursday night, and is waiving all fees for businesses.
This is something that needs to be presented to Rockford's mayor, Tom McNamara. For most businesses, there are plenty of parking spots or surrounding neighborhood streets that allow parking. Why not make use of these spaces and let restaurants create temporary outdoor seating arrangements? For the businesses that may not have a parking lot, like businesses around E. State Street in downtown Rockford, why not consider closing a block of the street beginning at 5 pm to allow these establishments to serve outdoors? There are probably special permits needed, which Mayor Mac could quickly approve. There may be fees typically included but those could be waived for this special circumstance. It should be known that Rockford's mayor has already waived fees businesses would need to create/expand outdoor setting but I don't recall parking lots of city streets being a part of the conversation. Even with setting up on the street, this would allow social distancing and bring in much-needed business for these restaurants and bars that have made little-to-no profits for the last few months. Again, merely a suggestion.