According to mandates by Governor JB Pritzker, our
local non-essential businesses may open. Non-essential retail
businesses can have customers inside their store under strict
guidelines. Customers are required to wear masks as are clerks.
Social distancing must be observed, and the number of customers
allowed to shop at one time should be limited.
For bars and restaurants, guests may dine outside but not inside the
establishments. Even outside, they must observe social distancing
with no large groups gathering together. Guests may go inside the
establishments to place and pay for their orders and also to use
public restrooms. They may not loiter inside the building or consume
their food or drink orders inside the building.
Tuesday evening, aldermen talked about how to assist with the
outdoor seating for local bars and restaurants.
The proposed “Item A - Restaurant/Bar Downtown Plan” was divided
into three segments.
Plan A.) Use of street parking for outdoor use
Plan B.) Traffic flow changes for outdoor street uses for business
Plan C.) Street closures for outdoor business use.
Also on the agenda was “Item B – Approval of use of city property,”
and “Item C – Approval of Liquor Commission recommendations for the
outdoor seating area.”
Kevin Bateman and Tracy Welch had been asked by Mayor Seth Goodman
to gather information from local eateries and bars and draft some
plans for the council to review.
First up was the discussion about of plan ‘B’ traffic flow changes.
Bateman provided a map of how the city could implement one way
streets. The proposal included one way traffic around the Logan
County Courthouse on three sides – Broadway Street, Kickapoo Street
and Pulaski Street. Pulaski would also be one way one block to the
west of the square from Kickapoo to Chicago Street.
Bateman said that McLean Street could not be one way because of the
post office and also to help accommodate access to the courthouse.
Another suggestion was to make Sangamon Street one way to
accommodate the Blue Dog Inn.
Generally speaking, aldermen were not in favor of creating one-way
traffic. Many, including Welch and Bateman who drew out the option,
said they felt that the implementation of one-way streets would make
for greater accident risks because it would be so unfamiliar to
Local business owner Jim Drew representing Sorrento’s Pizzeria
commented via telephone. He said he would not be in favor of one way
traffic. He added that he would prefer to have his patrons utilize
the parking lot behind the restaurant. He also suggested that Rio
Grande that is located on Kickapoo Street could use the grassy area
next door to his business (the Lincoln Welcome Garden).
Jeff Hoinacki said that he felt that one way traffic would also be
detrimental to the retail businesses because implementing it would
make access to parking on the store front side of streets more
With the group in agreement on plan ‘B,’ aldermen went back to plan
‘A’ to discuss use of street parking for dining. In the course of
the discussion, Plan A and item B – approval of use of city owned
property - became intertwined.
Plan ‘A’ included allowing the use of parking spaces in front of the
businesses of outdoor dining. The plan included giving each business
the three marked parking spaces directly in front of their business
for outdoor dining. Plan B and Plan A were actually overlapping in
that the goal of one way traffic had been to create a safer
environment for those utilizing parking spaces for guests.
Item B included the use owned property including Shay Parking lot
for Guzzardo’s and the Pekin Street parking lot at the Lincoln
Public Library for Sorrento’s, Rio Grande and possibly Flossie and
Welch said the grassy area, or Welcome garden had also been
suggested by Lance Rainforth of Abe’s. Welch said that property was
under lease to the Logan County Tourism Bureau. He didn’t believe
there would be any objection by the bureau to lending the property
to Rio Grande, but as a board member of the bureau along with Steve
Parrot, they could pole the full board if needed.
Bateman said he would prefer not to allow use of grassy areas
because regular chairs might sink into the soil and create safety
hazards when the weather was wet. In addition, he said there would
be issues with keeping the areas mowed. He said that Rio Grande
could also utilize the Pekin Street Parking lot.
The designation of parking spaces in front of the businesses was
favored by the aldermen. There were concerns about making sure that
the city did all that it could to remind drivers that there were
people dining in the streets, and assuring to the best of their
ability that all would be safe.
Discussions about signage warning drivers of the outdoor dining
areas ahead, large metal barricades and portable concrete abutments
were a big part of the debate throughout the evening. All agreed
that the city had to do as much as it could to protect citizens.
Bateman said that part of the parking area plan would
include the bright orange snow fencing and that the city would
provide a set amount of that fencing to each restaurant. The
discussion began with providing a minimum of 100 feet of the
fencing. During the evening the discussion moved to what would be
the maximum if 100 feet were a minimum. Bateman suggested 400 feet,
but others thought that was too much.
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According to city street superintendent Walt Landers,
100 feet rolls of the fencing would cost $24. Landers said that
rolls could be ordered on Wednesday for next day delivery. Paying
for the rolls would come from the Third Friday’s Downtown budget
because there will be no third Friday event in June.
Aldermen settled on providing no more than 200 feet of fencing and
authorized Landers to order up to 40 rolls for next day delivery.
Landers had said he could get 20, but would have to see if he could
In addition to the three spaces, aldermen also discussed allowing
for more than three spaces upon request from a specific business.
They agreed that allowing additional spaces would be acceptable
providing that neighboring businesses were okay with it too.
The city will also provide picnic tables to the businesses as
needed. The first suggestion was to permit each business to have
four tables on a first come first served basis. However, some
thought that would not be fair to everyone, because the city has
less than 30 tables. Aldermen settled on offering two tables to
business for Friday. Then the first of the week, if tables are still
available they will be offered to businesses on a first come first
served basis. Mayor Seth Goodman said he wasn’t sure how many people
would want the picnic tables because their size would take up the
square footage of their dining area more quickly than smaller tables
Another option for businesses is that they will be permitted to put
up tents over their dining area. Landers said that tents could be
secured to the road with one-quarter-inch taps, but should still be
lowered at the close of business each day to prevent the tents from
becoming airborne in a storm.
Businesses will be permitted to run electricity to their dining
areas for lighting or whatever else they might need. The cords must
run from their own business to the dining area and must be secured
and covered to prevent trip hazards.
Eateries that serve liquor will be permitted to serve single serving
drinks outside. They must have alcohol service within a fenced in
area, and guests will not be permitted to leave the area with drinks
Video gambling will still not be allowed according to state
There will be no open fire pits allowed but propane heaters with no
open flames will be allowed for cool evenings.
A third part of the overall plan was plan ‘C’ which included street
closures to accommodate outdoor dining. The council vetoed that
In the end the group voted on plan A and B combined with a motion
that included not offering one way streets and offering parking
spaces and space in city owned parking lots for outdoor dining.
With most of the rules hashed out, the aldermen asked that city
attorney John Hoblit draft a letter that would be delivered to all
restaurant and bar owners in the city, not just downtown.
Other considerations included in the letter will be requests for
proof of insurance from the property owners. Safety inspections of
the dining areas by the city fire department and the city code
officer will also be required. Letters of understanding will be
signed transferring all liability to the business owners. Those
letters may be signed only by the owners of the business before a
Notary Public. There are three Notaries in the city clerk’s office.
City Clerk Peggy Bateman said if necessary, she or someone from her
office would go to the owner to witness the signature and warned
that no one may bring in a signed document to be notarized, the
notary must witness the signature.
There must also be a signed consent from neighboring businesses if a
restaurant or bar wishes to utilize more than three parking spaces.
Businesses that already have outdoor serving areas such as beer
gardens on their own property will adhere to their own rules as they
have always and in compliance with state guidelines.
Businesses that wish to establish outdoor dining on privately owned
property should still contact the city and may be required to
utilize the safety fencing.
The council also approved authorizing Goodman and two aldermen of
his choice to oversee the assignment of parking spaces and to hear
requests for additional spaces or tables. Goodman expressed that
this was going to be a very quick operation to help get the eateries
up and running by this Friday, so council approval of every detail
was not feasible. Welch stressed that the mayor and two aldermen
appointed would not be making any decisions independent of the
guidelines that the city has approved. This came after a telephone
call from Wanda Lee Rohlfs. She expressed concern that the aldermen
should grant decision making authority to a committee and said it
was a practice the city should not get into. She was assured that
there was not going to be an actual committee, and that these were
also exceptional circumstances.
Goodman also said that he had heard complaints that the city is not
utilizing a local news source as it should be. He said that he
wanted copies of the documents that Hoblit would draft sent to all
local news sources and published to the city’s website and facebook
Hoblit said he could have the letters written and ready for
distribution by noon on Wednesday. The council also talked about
delivery of the documents. Bateman said he could help and others
said they would as well. The current plan is to hand deliver the
documents to the businesses and talk to each one about the needed
accommodations as soon as possible on Wednesday and Thursday.
All local restaurants may open for outdoor dining on Friday.