WARSAW — “I have concerns, I’m thankful we’re here talking about this today and hoping we stay open (minded). Some will win, some will lose. It is an opportunity, unique, pilot, why not try it,” said Jeff Grose, board of works member. “More time is great, so we can have more discussion.”
This and other comments relating to a proposed encroachment agreement were heard during Friday morning’s Warsaw Board of Public Works and Safety meeting. A little more than one hour of discussion was held regarding the proposal between the city and Urban Retrend LLC. Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer stated at the start the proposal potentially would be tabled. “The tone of this meeting should be discussion concerns and potential solutions,” said Thallemer. The proposal was tabled until the Aug. 19 meeting.
The encroachment agreement specifies the effective dates of May 1 to the end of October through 2017, no smoking allowed in the outdoor dining area, the city has a right to rescind the agreement at anytime with 30-day prior written notice, a pedestrian walkway maintained, hours of operation be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, all trash and receptacles removed by 10 p.m. No public performance of amplified music, the private business will be responsible for all permits or approvals for outdoor alcohol service and security.
Comments were heard from Cindy Dobbins and Jerry Frush, city councilmen; Kellie Altrude, Malcolm and Associates; Tim Hori, St. Regis Club; Warsaw Community Development Corporation Executive Director Rob Parker; Mike Bergan, business owner; Tom Kinch and Jim Breading, business owner. Thallemer and Jeremy Skinner, city planner, lead the discussion and responded to concerns.
Thallemer prefaced the discussion with a review of details presented at the June 20 common council meeting. He also shared information from previous action studies, Ball State Charrette, and council strategic plans. It was also stressed the city is seeking an opportunity to enhance the downtown and make it vital for people to want to come to live, work and play.
Parker reviewed the July WCDC survey with downtown businesses, expressed the pros and cons received. It was also stated WCDC supported the pilot project.
Dobbins questioned the thought of eventually vacating the alley and Frush asked if there is an age restriction. Skinner stated there is no intent for an alley vacation. “It’s just an opportunity to see what can be accomplished.” Additionally he said due to Indiana weather this type of program is more conducive to warmer weather. Responding to Frush’s question it was noted, by Hori, the plan is to provide family dining and alcohol will be served, but no outside bar. Dobbins suggested an overall plan of locations where programs could be utilized and suggested all merchants be notified of the plan.
Breading noted people are making decisions who do not have businesses in the downtown area, he also stated if a business wasn’t on the alley it would lose money. He also asked if Ball State was god, noting reference to their study is all he has heard. Kinch questioned having alcohol outside.
Bergan, supportive of the idea, suggested limited hours of operation during the business week allowing easier access onto city streets from the private parking lots. He stated it is impossible to turn into traffic from the alleys.
Illustrations of other communities with similar programs were noted and the popularity. It was reiterated numerous times it is a pilot program and the plug could be pulled at any time.