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Sarasota Thu Apr 22, 2010 4 years ago

Businesses want wider sidewalk

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by: Robin Roy City Editor

Ninety days before the 1300 block of Main Street will be closed for a month-long construction project, the owner of a business on that block is proposing a simultaneous improvement project.

John Anderson, owner of Mozaic restaurant, would like to see the sidewalk on the north side of the 1300 block widened from 6 feet currently to up to 17 feet.

“It’s something I always thought would be nice for the city, creating a more walkable city,” said Anderson.

And neighboring businesses agree — 13 of the 14 businesses on his side of the street signed a petition seeking the sidewalk improvements.

Currently, the sidewalk does not allow much activity other than walking and for a thin strip of outdoor tables to be placed in front of some restaurants.

“People create a bottleneck when they stop to read a menu,” Anderson said.

What he’d like to see is a sidewalk up to three times as wide as it is now, most of it covered with brick pavers. He said that would allow room for more outdoor tables and a place for people to gather.

To make room for the wider sidewalk, the angled parking spaces in front of the businesses would either have to be reduced or eliminated altogether.

Anderson is proposing changing a number of parking spaces to parallel spots. He’s not sure how many of the 19 angled spaces would have to be eliminated.

“I think having no parking at all would be best,” he said. “But the community would be less likely to buy in.”
He believes with the Palm Avenue parking garage scheduled to open in December, now is the perfect time to work on the proposed project.

“With all the people who will be walking from the garage, this would accommodate the increase in pedestrian (traffic),” said Anderson.

The 1300 block of Main Street will close from June 1 to June 30, so the city can install an underground waterline. During the Downtown Improvement District meeting April 20, the suggestion was made that the sidewalk widening should happen at the same time, so the road doesn’t have to be closed twice.

But doubts were raised whether the design, engineering, public hearings and commission approval can all happen within the next 90 days.

“I love the idea,” said Larry Fineberg, DID chairman. “But I’m very concerned about the timing.”

But Anderson is hoping that things will work out.

“A beautiful outdoor plaza would be great for the city,” he said.

Contact Robin Roy at rroy@yourobserver.com.
 

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