Town officials and Falmouth Chamber of Commerce president Michael Kasparian were scheduled to meet May 14 to discuss options to expand restaurant capacity as the Cape reopens, including the feasibility of closing portions of Main Street, cross streets, or sidewalks to create outdoor seating.
Mr. Kasparian called the meeting after fielding calls and emails from business owners and residents proposing arguments both for and against the idea.
In addition to Mr. Kasparian, attending the meeting were to be representatives from the board of selectmen, planning board, board of health, the police department and town manager’s office.
It was a closed staff meeting. Public input will be invited at a later meeting.
“It’s quite challenging, because not one size fits all, and not everyone is certain they would benefit. There has been quite a bit of pushback,” Mr. Kasparian said. “Not all are in love with the idea. Some folks have said that they think that it’s better for the businesses to have cars driving down there.”
He said merchants want people who are out driving to see that businesses are open and see the advertising in their windows.
Initially he said he was excited about the idea, but now has mixed feelings about its viability and profitability for all businesses. He wants a solution that would benefit all restaurants well beyond the downtown core.
“Does that mean allowing some establishments outside of downtown to be able to use parking lots for outdoor seating?” he asked.
The chamber of commerce has sent out questionnaires asking downtown businesses what they think of closing the street.
The topic came up on Tuesday, May 12, when the planning board met.
Town Planner Thomas Bott said he had been hearing from business owners who hope to be able to better serve patrons and customers once they are allowed to open.
“I’ve been asked about whether they can put up tents on their property or use their parking lots,” he said. “An idea I have heard a few times now is if the Main Street library lawn should be used in some capacity. We want to consider a range of options for all restaurants and the options we have under the law that we can use,” he said.
With June just around the corner, Mr. Kasparian said work must begin now. “We need to get started on this ASAP if we want to be able to implement by summer,” he said.