Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sidewalk news

(Proposed improvements to Amici's outdoor dining)

Alfresco dining certainly makes a city streetscape seem lively and inviting. Many of Middletown's restaurants have taken advantage of our broad sidewalks, and with few exceptions, these outside dining areas do little to interfere with regular foot traffic.

Common Council member Dave Bauer raises an interesting question, though, as Amici's Restaurant proposes erecting permanent structures on what appears to be public thorougfare.

In a communication to town planer Bill Warner he asks: How much of their outside seating is on public property? As they appropriate City Property for their use, what consideration is given to the Public’s interest? What is the process that this proposal must follow? Will this proposal come before any commission/committee that will consider the financial impact on Public Property?

The proposed new structure is in the first steps of seeking town approval at a meeting of the City's Design Review and Preservation Board on Wednesday, September 10, at 5:30 p.m. in Room 2008 at City Hall.

In other sidewalk news, it appears that Wesleyan has decided to abandon all its bluestone slate sidewalks on High Street and install concrete along the entire length of the block from Washington to Wyllys Avenue. Concrete is admittedly easier to maintain, and less likely to catch a heel or toe, but the beauty and historic significance of slate sidewalks makes their loss regrettable. The slate being removed, most of it two inches thick, has withstood more than a century of traffic, and reset, it would likely last another century or two. The University is also rebuilding brownstone, slate and granite steps which led from the sidewalk to the street. These steps are now also concrete.

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