On Friday, the Town of Sykesville marked off space on Main Street for local businesses to use for added outdoor seating.
As many municipalities have been doing, the Town Council first discussed adding outdoor seating to local eateries at its June 8 meeting. Restaurants in Maryland are allowed to provide seating both indoors and outdoors, but the state still has coronavirus-related safety precautions in place, such as patrons being seated at least 6 feet apart and employees wearing masks. Plus, there is evidence some customers don’t yet feel comfortable eating inside amid others, even with social distancing.
Mayor Ian Shaw introduced three proposed plans, presented by Julie Della-Maria, Downtown Sykesville Connection executive director, to add outdoor dining to Sykesville. In the meeting, Town Manager Joe Cosentini described each plan.
According to Cosentini, Model A essentially gets rid of all parking on Main Street and retrofits certain seating areas and designated curbside pickup areas. Model B was similar to Model A, but would locate the outdoor seating in the parking lots. Model C would eliminate the southbound lane of Main Street and add curbside pickup spaces in the parking lots.
“I think Model A is something that can be implemented rather easily from a town perspective, in that we wouldn’t have to necessarily close roads or look for detour routes,” Cosentini said in the meeting. “We could probably make those seating areas as safe as they could be given that there would be traffic next to them.”
Shaw said he was curious as to how the dining areas would be protected.
Council member Jeremiah Schofield suggested executing a hybrid of models A and B, providing additional seating in parking lots.
“This would at least provide some flexibility in case there’s not enough seating based on Model A as of now, and maybe as kind of a backup, if we run into too many problems with actually trying to close that stretch of Main Street altogether,” he said.
Shaw said he thought it would be better to keep the spaces for pickup.
Ultimately, the council unanimously voted to execute Model A. As a way to make the outdoor seating safe next to the Main Street traffic, barriers were added Friday. There are two sections on Main Street for the added outdoor dining for four eateries; Sweet Simplicity, Market Tavern, Dandelion Bakery and Norwood Ice Cream, according to Cosentini.
Because Main Street is a state road, the town had to work with the Maryland State Highway Administration to discuss the different options, the barricade they would use, whether it would be Americans With Disabilities Act compliant and ensuring that vehicle traffic was going to be at a safe distance from the seating on the sidewalks.
The outdoor dining will remain along Main Street at least until the end of August, Cosentini said.