Outdoor seating spaces on Elk to be similar to last summer

Concern that visitors will have trouble finding food

[  By Mark Reaman  ]

The summer street seating on Elk Avenue in 2022 will basically be configured the same as last summer with restaurants permitted to establish so-called parklets or patios along the frontage of their businesses. 

The Crested Butte town council had not made the decision on how much space to allocate to parklets until the March 7 council meeting. Aside from mirroring last year’s set-up, they were considering allowing two parklets per interested restaurant no matter the frontage. A third alternative was to limit the parklets to one if the business frontage was smaller than one parking space and up to two if the frontage was larger than a single parking space. 

Council had already decided it would allow the continuation of outdoor seating on Elk Avenue for the summers of 2022 and 2023 but the extension of seating into the street would be reduced to eight feet (a 33% decrease from last summer) with patios or parklets so as to allow two-way traffic on Elk Avenue. The permitted areas must be used for dining and will not be allowed to have games, performances or music in the space. The permit cost is going up to $3 per square foot which is the same as the old sidewalk seating fee. 

Council expressed concern that as visitor numbers rise and the local restaurant scene appears less solid, it might be difficult for tourists to find food. “The big concern right now is about the ability of the town to feed our visitors, so I am in favor in option A that keeps it the same as last year,” said councilmember Mallika Magner. 

“I understand the pressure to feed visitors and that’s where outdoor seating came into play last year,” agreed councilmember Chris Haver.

Some councilmembers expressed concern that the elimination of parking spaces would result in unintended problems. 

Councilmember Mona Merrill asked if further adjustments could be made if new issues came about this coming summer. 

Mayor Ian Billick said the council could do whatever it wanted but businesses were looking for some consistency for the next two years in order to make the financial investment to make the outdoor seating worthwhile. “But we can always fix problems,” he said.

Council agreed 6-1 to keep the parklet spaces the same length as last summer while ensuring that restaurants with smaller frontages, like Teocalli Tamale, would be permitted a space the size of at least one parking space. Councilmember Anna Fenerty voted against the motion.

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