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Salida Outdoors — Here We Come.

During its May 4 regular meeting, the Salida City Council voted to approve Resolution 2021-14 which will allow businesses to utilize outdoor spaces, under certain conditions, and as allowed by current COVID-19 health regulations. This summer, the ‘F Street Plaza’, as it has been named, will once again be closed to auto traffic for a few blocks and reopen for pedestrians with some minor changes.

Council amended the resolution to block food trucks and food carts from being allowed on public property in the core of downtown. Last year, as COVID-19k restrictions continued, the city closed two blocks of F Street to vehicle traffic in order for businesses to utilize the roadway and parking spots as extra dining and selling space.

Screenshot was taken during City Council meeting on May 4. Council voted to approve the amended resolution 2021-14.

This resolution takes into account feedback and experiences from the summer of 2020 and its temporary shutdown of F Street between Sackett and Second Street. Those two blocks remain the easiest to shut down to traffic and most visible to attract locals and visitors. Based on feedback, Council discussed the following modifications to be implemented in 2021:

  • A clear travel path of six feet down the center of F street. Barrier fencing will delineate this pathway from adjacent uses.  Bicycle, skateboard, and scooter riders will be encouraged via sidewalk signage to dismount and walk the Plaza.
  • Portable ADA ramps will be placed at various points along the pedestrian plaza on F Street to provide additional accessibility from the sidewalk curb to the street level.  Placement of street barriers at corners will help with passenger drop-off and access for those with mobility constraints.
  • Public amenities such as shaded pergolas with seating will be set up at four points within the public right-of-way along the pedestrian area.
  • 10 new trash cans and four new recycling cans will be placed along F Street to provide additional animal-safe and ADA-compliant trash and recycling collection points.
  • Businesses will be allowed to host activities and entertainment in their expansion space while still ensuring compliance with Chaffee County Public Health guidance for outdoor gatherings.

Resolution 2021-14 will also assist with businesses not located on F Street. Upon approval, a restaurant or bar with a parking lot may be able to expand partially into that lot for table service. Non-food service businesses with parking lots may also expand into their parking lot.

In the event that a portion of a public right-of-way is logical and safe to expand into, such as an existing parking space (except along State Highway right-of-way) or sidewalk, this resolution allows staff members to review and approve a Modification of Premises (MOP) for an establishment with a liquor license and a Temporary Outdoor Expansion (TOE) for this purpose. Businesses without a liquor license that wish to expand would apply for a TOE only.

Chairs set up on F Street for public use during the 2020 closure.  Picture By Brooke Gilmore

Though the amendment was made to remove the food truck and cart portion of the resolution, the council discussed the possibility of allowing smaller “hand food” type of vendors (such as snow cone carts or hot dog stands) in the future after some form of curating to ensure diversity of offerings and fairness to existing food and bar operations.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, many downtown restaurant owners expressed concerns about multiple food trucks in proximity to their existing operations.  While they said that some food truck operations on private property or out on Highway 50 might be additive to attracting visitors, allowing food trucks downtown would negatively impact their brick-and-mortar businesses that employ scores of locals, all year long.

This ultimately led to the amendment to the resolution, with the council voicing priority support for existing restaurant operations in the downtown area. While staff said they had received expressions of interest from existing downtown retailers to add some carts, none of those businesses appeared in person or provided their support in online chat.

In closing the evening, City Administrator Drew Nelson responded to a concern raised by one downtown retailer about the lack of basic public facilities to support an influx of visitors eating and drinking.  Nelson said that while all the CDOT grant money had been spent on the planned amenities, that the City would seek to address handwashing stations at least.

Portable public restrooms are another matter.  While needed, few businesses might want to have them placed near their operations, and they are difficult to maintain and monitor after hours.   Discussions on these and other details are expected to be a topic during the Salida Business Alliance (SBA) meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 6 at the Community Center at 305 F Street and on Zoom.

In other major action, Council also voted to approve Ordinance 2021-07 which approves a construction loan (and forgiveness of a design and engineering loan already received) from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPA). Council held the second reading and public hearing where no public testimony was received.

Ordinance 2021-07 will allow for improvements at the Pasqualle Water Treatment Plant Site along with the Gallery Water Treatment Plant transmission main piping, titled the ‘Low Zone Water Line Replacement Project’.

These improvements will be funded through a low-interest Direct Loan of 1.5 percent in the amount of $4,184,000 for a term of 20 years from the date of issue and which can be paid down (or off) at any time prior, The City also received a major bonus in the form of total forgiveness of a prior loan for the Design and Engineering component of the project, in the amount of $241,450.00.

To watch the full meeting, click here.