WATERVILLE — The City Council on Tuesday voted to approve requests from The Proper Pig restaurant to offer outdoor dining on Common Street downtown.

The vote Tuesday to approve was 7-0.

In recent discussions, councilors have said they want to do what they can to help restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic because eateries must follow social-distancing and other guidelines set by the state. Those restrictions have cost most restaurants some of their seating capacity, councilors said.

They recently voted to allow outdoor dining, seasonally, in places such as The Concourse. Councilors also voted recently to authorize closing part of Silver Street to allow more space downtown for outdoor dining.

Councilor Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, said Tuesday that restaurants have been hit hard because of the pandemic and he fully supports The Proper Pig request to use Common Street.

“We continue to try to be as outreaching as we possibly can and I think we should,” Mayhew said.

The Proper Pig submitted a plan asking that during the week a 20-by-40-foot expansion covering the sidewalk and a section of Common Street be closed to traffic for outdoor dining from June 17 to Sept. 30. Traffic still would be able to flow through that section, it says.

In addition, the restaurant asked that the dining area be expanded Friday and Saturday evenings, with the entire street closed to traffic from 5 to 10 p.m. The changes would occur for a one-year trial basis.

Common Street is a short, one-way street with little traffic and few businesses and The Proper Pig is the only business on the street that is open after 5 p.m.

Council Chairman Erik Thomas, D-Ward 7, said Tuesday that the only concern that arose in a recent discussion about closing part of the street is that the construction happening downtown this summer might require equipment to get through Common Street.

City Manager Michael Roy said that construction would occur for only about two weeks this summer and if the restaurant has to move tables around because of that, the city could allow tables to be in Castonguay Square for that period.

The square is a city-owned park located between Common Street and City Hall.

Councilor Meg Smith, D-Ward 3, said she was excited about having dining on Common Street. Mayor Nick Isgro concurred.

“It’s a good plan,” he said. “I’m looking at the map. I like it.”

Claude Francke, D-Ward 6, asked about possible public safety issues concerning the street. Roy said the city checked with the police and fire departments and both were OK with the plan.

“There really weren’t any issues,” Roy said.

The Proper Pig owner Bill Mitchell said he appreciated the vision councilors have for the city and all the work they have been doing.

“Thank you all very much,” Mitchell said of the Common Street request approval. “I really appreciate that.”

 

OTHER BUSINESS

In other matters Tuesday, the council voted 7-0 to approve a marijuana retail license for Mainely Glass/Greener Medical at 87 College Ave. The business, located across the avenue from Cumberland Farms, and two buildings north of there, has been in that spot since 2017 and requested it be allowed to continue.

Councilors voted 7-0 to approve a secondhand license to William Bucklin, doing business as Clean Slate Property Services LLC at 55 Grove St.

They also voted 7-0 to rezone 174-192 College Ave. from Commercial-C to Contract Zoned District/General Industrial to allow for a live-in security guard at PRO Moving Service.

The council voted 7-0 to accept as a city street the final section of Meadow Drive in the Fieldstone Meadows subdivision.

Councilors agreed to hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. next Tuesday, June 23. Roy said the city’s finance committee will meet Thursday and he hopes it can come back to the full council Tuesday with recommendations about items proposed to be funded in a 2020 bond. He said the council also would be able to discuss how the city will finish its year in terms of whether surplus will be needed, and discuss next year and what revenue estimates look like. The council on Tuesday would probably be able to plan out a timetable for approving the budget, Roy said.

Councilors discussed whether to continue meeting via livestream or start meeting in-person, with Councilor Rick Foss, R-Ward 5, saying the passion of a person calling in to express how they feel about the budget, for instance, gets left out as those comments are relayed to the council through a staff person.

Francke said he is not quite comfortable meeting in a group the size of Tuesday’s, which was about 11 people. He noted that collective bargaining negotiations were conducted via Zoom and he is surprised they got to where they did, without meeting face-to-face.

“We’ve actually been able to accomplish a lot of city business, and I don’t think we should sell ourselves short on our ability to serve the city using remote technology,” Francke said.

Some councilors said the issue should be resolved at least before the final vote is taken on the budget, which requires two votes to finalize.

“We do need to figure this out, certainly before we take the last vote on the budget,” Thomas said.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.