Changes Coming to Outdoor Dining?

The second summer season of outdoor dining on Nantucket is in full-swing, but the Select Board is already looking ahead to 2022 in an effort to determine what changes, if any, should be made to the popular policy.

The board will be looking specifically at two discussion points around outdoor dining at tonight’s meeting” extending the special permitting for outdoor dining beyond its current deadline of Aug. 15 to the end of the year (with the potential for minor adjustments as needed), as well as a broader policy discussion on changes for 2022, including the possibility of charging restaurants a fee to utilize public areas for dining.

Specifically, we need to discuss the use of public property for outdoor dining – street closures, parking space usage, sidewalk usage,” Select Board chair Jason Bridges said. “Some of these work better than others.  Outdoor dining was pivotal for our downtown economy to survive last year. Now, after two years we have a proof of concept, and we need to decide what we would like to keep and/or adapt for 2022.”

While outdoor dining has been embraced by island restaurants and been extremely popular with diners, there have been complaints Bridges said, primarily “about the parking spaces being used for outdoor dining, fairness to all restaurants (as some don’t have the space or opportunity for outdoor dining on public property), trash, congestion in certain areas, etc.”

Town Manager Libby Gibson added “there have been a lot of accolades, but the complaints relate to pedestrian access being impeded on Main Street, for example, taking up parking spaces, and whether or not it’s fair that restaurants use town property to expand their premises for no additional fee.”

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