Mayor's vote breaks tie for on-street dining
December 31, 2020
On Tuesday, during a special Cathlamet Town Council meeting, the mayor’s tie breaking vote passed a motion allowing The Spar to work with town staff on a right-of-way permit for outdoor dining.
The town invited the public to express thoughts on outdoor dining structures that would take up parking spaces in front of restaurants that wanted to opt-in for a right-of-way permit. The Spar owner, Stephanie Vossen, proposed a temporary structure in front of her venue that would take up two parking spots but allow The Spar to offer dine-in services.
Council Members Robert Stowe and Bill Wainwright, although supportive of helping local businesses during the indoor dining ban, felt that not enough precautions were included in Vossen’s plan. Main issues include clearance for large commercial vehicles passing through Main St., the accessibility of the temporary structure for folks with disabilities, and the interference of foot traffic along the sidewalk between the structure and The Spar. Both council members wondered if these issues would be amplified when other restaurants followed suit with The Spar’s request for a right-of-way permit.
Vossen is trailblazing the outdoor dining movement downtown but must coordinate with several bureaucratic agencies to get approval. The town has agreed to support Vossen’s plan but ultimately “it’s on the business,” Mayor Dale Jacobson explained, to get it done.
Members of the public who shared their thoughts were all in support of establishing outdoor dining. One bed and breakfast owner saw it as an economic stimulator for their business. A chamber of commerce representative explained that the success of Vossen’s plan could determine the viability of new businesses downtown.
Council members Laurel Waller and David Olson were in full support of Vossen’s outdoor dining plan and agreed with their fellow council members that approval from state, transportation, and health agencies was still needed. Instead of passing a motion to approve Vossen’s permit for right-of-way access, the council agreed to work with Vossen on meeting the requirements. The council will meet again next Monday.