Business

Outdoor dining proposal sparks discussion with business owners

A proposal by a downtown business to encroach on public parking for outdoor dining has other area businesses talking.

Recently a representative from Front Street Grill came to Coupeville Town Council and shared an idea to use the two parking spots in front of the business for outdoor dining.

A platform would be built to make the area level as well as fencing to create a perimeter.

The business, located on Front Street, would only offer outdoor dining during the summer months, and management hoped to start in August this year.

Part of the proposal included highlighting how much additional sales tax revenue the expansion might bring in.

Mayor Nancy Conard took the idea to the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce and Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association for input.

The meeting left at least one downtown business owner concerned about the proposal.

Denis Hill sent an email to town council as well as The Whidbey Examiner.

“That meeting left me with fear that if you approve any proposal that removes spaces from the parking pool to benefit one business, you will engender a deterioration of harmony in the historic waterfront district and risk real damage to the balance of the tax-paying businesses in on the street,” Hill said. “My retail experience in Coupeville has taught me that parking proximity is an inelastic variable in shoppers’ decisions to stop or keep driving.”

While the town council is aware of the request, Conard said there is no pending action on the issue.

Rather, Conard is seeking input from other businesses on Front Street that might be interested in also providing outdoor dining.

The issue was discussed during the historic waterfront association’s membership meeting last week.

“If there seems to be support and interest from other businesses I will schedule another discussion with CHWA members...” Conard said in an email. “I will not move this request forward to the council without a positive recommendation from the CHWA.”

The board is seeking input from its membership on the issue prior to giving a “yay” or “nay” on the proposal.

During its regular meeting, CWHA members discussed holding another meeting or possibly a retreat to discuss the issue.

 

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