GRANTS PASS – As a result of public surveys and signed petitions in favor of the program, the City of Grants Pass will extend its popular Dine in the District Parklet Program through the end of October. Producing 10 pages of signatures collected from customers by local restaurants in the city’s Central Business District, City Manager Aaron Cubic presented the extension proposal to the city council at their workshop Monday, Aug. 31.
“This is just a couple of days of asking customers,” said Cubic regarding the 240 or more signatures he presented.
First instituted June 18, the Dine in the District Economic Development Recovery Program created an addendum to the city’s Sidewalk Café Permit program, allowing qualifying restaurants within the CBD to establish a temporary parklet through converting an on-street parking space or spaces into a protected seating area for dining customers.
Due to restrictions put in place by executive order of Oregon Governor Kate Brown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants have had to change their operational model. As restrictions loosened, restaurants continued to be impacted by a required 50 percent or more reduction to their dine-in capacity.
“It is the intent of the city to assist and support the small businesses impacted by the current pandemic and to help them recover, flourish, and remain in Grants Pass. By offering this unique Dine in the District Parklet Program, the city is recognizing the importance of our small businesses and their impact to the stability and vitality of our community,” said Cubic when the program was created.
The original program was slated to end the week of Sept. 16. Regular reviews of the program have been provided to the council, including a recent survey sent to more than 100 business owners and managers in the CBD.
“Ninety-two percent agreed that this does help with the COVID-19 restrictions,” said City Manager Aaron Cubic when he delivered the survey results to the council at their workshop Monday, Aug. 17.
Cubic reported 84 percent of respondents agreed the program was an innovative and appropriate use of city funds to assist economic development recovery in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions.
He also reported that 89 percent of respondents agreed the program has increased dining traffic at local restaurants, while 66 percent agreed the program increased customer foot traffic in the district as a whole.
“We have received so much positive public comment and support,” said Cubic this week.
“I have sat in the parklet, and really enjoyed lunch,” said Councilor Rick Riker in support of the extension.
“I’ve been down there a couple of times. I’ve talked to some people, and they love it,” said Mayor Roy Lindsay.
Cubic said extending the program by an extra six weeks will result in minimal cost to the city, which has rented the concrete barriers used to create the parklets.
“Any extension of the rental is minor,” he said.
“I think it’s a no-brainer to continue it,” said Councilor Valerie Lovelace.
The Council also directed city staff to begin researching the costs and variety of options for the parklets to return on a regular, seasonal basis. Discussion of those options and plans will continue during the council’s strategic planning sessions at the beginning of next year.