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Telluride Town Council approves measure to take business to the streets - outdoor dining to commence June 1

Colorado Avenue will be one way, eastbound this summer

Special Thanks to Suzanne Cheavens, Associate Editor & The Telluride Daily Planet

Main Street

This image shows where communal dining and retail/arts spaces would be placed along the north side of Colorado Avenue between Oak and Fir streets. (Courtesy image)

This summer, Colorado Avenue businesses can take it to the street. At its special meeting Tuesday, Telluride Town Council unanimously approved a measure that will allow restaurants and retailers on Colorado Avenue to use public right of ways to feed their customers and display their wares. The resolution is designed to “to encourage and permit outdoor dining, retail display and transactions, local art display and performance to assist local businesses in response to the town’s local disaster emergency regarding COVID-19.” The resolution goes into effect June 1.

Council, staff and members of the public undertook a lengthy discussion that also included consideration of restaurants and businesses located away from the town’s main drag. While side streets are not part of Tuesday’s resolution, council will revisit those businesses at it next meeting, June 2.

Driven by the economic implications of doing business under public health orders that include compliance with physical-distancing measures and limitations on group sizes, local officials have been examining how to support its business license holders in a way that would uphold those orders. Restaurants, for instance, will soon be permitted to seat customers, but at only half capacity and while keeping diners adequately separated. Having outdoor dining available will allow customers to pick up and consume to-go orders.

The plan will see eastbound traffic only, with the westbound lane closed and separated from vehicles. San Miguel County officials asked that the block between Aspen and Oak streets remain open to two-way traffic, citing the upcoming election in June and for ease of conducting county business at the courthouse and the Miramonte building.

As per local emergency services such as fire and medical, there is ample room for those vehicles, as well as the center lane for deliveries.

In the staff memo to council, town project manager Lance McDonald described the so-called communal dining areas as areas to be “open to the public for the consumption of takeout or delivered food and beverages from local restaurant establishments, and cannot be allocated or assigned for exclusive uses to specific businesses.”

Communal retail and arts spaces will also be designated along Colorado Avenue’s north side. Those areas are available to retail businesses within the specific block to exhibit merchandise, etc., and cannot be allocated or assigned to specific businesses,” according to McDonald’s memo. Local artists and arts organizations can also avail themselves to those spaces, though retail businesses will have priority.

Rather than wait another week or more to make a decision, council pressed forward with a few changes to the draft resolution, saying that waiting was not in the public’s best interest.

“People are ready for us to take action,” said council member Adrienne Christy.

Tuesday’s resolution also included permitting “parklets” or portable units that can accommodate dining or merchandising on the south side of the street adjacent to businesses desiring to use them. Those units will be allowed from Aspen to Alder streets to included businesses outside of the one-way portion of Colorado Avenue. The resolution allows staff the flexibility to reach individual agreements with business license holders wishing to use parklets on public right of ways. Sanitation stations will be placed for ease of hand-washing.

Town will also purchase tables and crowd control fencing and create informational signage, an investment McDonald calculated would be approximately between $50,000 and $62,000. Tables, which comprise about $40,000 of total estimated costs, would be placed in the communal dining areas and in the nearby pocket parks. And he reminded council of the impacts on staff.

“There will be staff demands to implement this,” he said. “It is an undertaking.”

The resolution sunsets Oct. 30. Council will continue a discussion next week on how best to include similar considerations for off-Main Street businesses, allowing staff to compile more information on potential use of public right of ways in places such as Pine Street, Fir Street and Pacific Avenue near Siam and There.

Still left to establish is a management plan that will cover topics such as proper disinfecting of tables, keeping retail and dining areas cleaned, and enforcement of public health orders.

“This isn’t done by any means,” said Mayor DeLanie Young.

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