The future of outdoor dining in downtown Glencoe is up in the air after trustees discussed the topic on Feb. 17 during a Committee of the Whole meeting.
Agreements between the Village of Glencoe and local restaurants are set to expire in April, and in advance of that date, village officials are looking for guidance on how to regulate the COVID-19-era enhancements — such as outdoor structures in the public right of way and dedicated curbside-pickup parking.
The conversation Feb. 17 centered on how the dining changes have affected downtown Glencoe. Officials broke down the changes into three categories: licensed seating, including temporary structures, in the public right of way; general sidewalk seating; and dedicated parking for carryout customers.
The Village of Glencoe loosened its outdoor-dining restrictions in 2020, as restaurants attempted to adjust to COVID-19 and associated mitigations. In 2021, the Village Board decided to continue the programs and asked staff to provide analysis for an early-2022 discussion.
Backed by the research, Glencoe administration recommended the continuation of the programs but with a set of fees and design restrictions.
Three downtown Glencoe restaurants — Hometown Coffee and Juice, Guildhall and Valor — licensed village space and installed temporary structures. All three expressed interest in continuing to do so, according to village documents.
The issue divided trustees. Trustee Gail Lissner said the structures have provided more good than bad.
“I don’t think we’re through COVID yet,” she said. “I don’t know when it will end or how it will end, but what I do know is that winter structures have been helpful. I don’t think they have hurt the aesthetics downtown and they have certainly made restaurants more viable.”
Trustee Dudley Onderdonk had the opposite viewpoint.
He said when he had guests come to town they told him the structures made downtown Glencoe look like a “shanty town.”
“They felt it detracted from the community and what people would expect to find in Glencoe,” he said.
Village staff is recommending that restaurants pay a per-square-foot rate to license public space for the structures, as well as adhere to design standards that regulate material, color and more.
During the pandemic, restaurants in Glencoe have also been allowed to expand their general sidewalk seating past the boundaries of their properties, as long as a neighboring property owner agrees.
Despite at least one nonrestaurant business complaint, Village staff recommends continuing the expanded sidewalk seating with no fee but with design restrictions.
Forty-two parking spaces in downtown Glencoe can be used for short-term parking for restaurants. Twenty-six of the spaces are permanent 15-minute parking, while the other 16 are used for carryout customers during peak business hours.
Using feedback from restaurants, the Village believes carryout business will remain strong and recommends a monthly rental fee on a rising scale depending on how many spots are desired. The Village also hopes to better regulate when the spaces are in use.
Multiple downtown businesses shared concerns about the short-term restaurant parking. Dr. Amy Taub, of Advanced Dermatology at 716 Vernon Ave., wrote to the village that her staff fields daily complaints about the lack of area parking and often schedules followup appointments at its Lincolnshire location.
Trustee Gary Ruben said he wants it to be convenient for people to visit downtown Glencoe, while Onderdonk added that there may be no quick fix.
“It’s tricky,” he said. “There may be some trial and error involved in this. We’ll just have to see what we can do to allocate this scarce resource (parking) and try to be as equitable for all the uses downtown.”
Village officials are asking the public to submit feedback on the issue to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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