Tarrytown Poised to Close Main Street For Dining On 12 Saturday Nights—And Maybe Approve Parklets
By Barrett Seaman—
At their May 17 Board meeting, Tarrytown Trustees are expected to approve the closure of Main Street from Washington Street to Broadway on 12 Saturday nights beginning June 19th. The closures would be consecutive through August 28th, then skip the Labor Day weekend so that the twelfth and final night of street dining for the summer season would be on September 11th. In case of rain, the closure will take place on the subsequent Sunday evening.
The section will be closed 5:30–10:30 p.m.. Traffic would be allowed on Main Street west of Washington, with barriers in front of four eateries that are just below the Washington intersection so as to allow them to participate without blocking egress from the fire house on the south side of Main. The cost to the village in setting up the roadblocks on 12 weekends is estimated to be $14,000.
Also under discussion by the Board but not as close to resolution is a proposal to allow restaurants to create “parklets,” extensions of their dining services into designated parking spaces in front of their establishments. These would be more permanent—not one-night stands as with the entire street closure—in that they would remain in place throughout the summer season.
Several communities in the area already allow parklets, notably Ossining and Dobbs Ferry in the Rivertowns. In Dobbs, three or four restaurants along Cedar Street and three more on Main Street already have spaces in front of them blocked off with orange, plastic so-called “Jersey barriers” that can be filled with water to weigh them down as a means of providing greater protection should a car veer into them. Some of the Dobbs eateries have as many as three contiguous spaces blocked off. The village charges them $50-per-month for each parking space in order to recover lost revenues from parking meters. Scott Broccoli, owner of The Rare Bit on Cedar Street, who has three spaces blocked off, believes the added dining space more than compensates for the expense.
Besides the loss of parking spaces—or rather because of it—not all the merchants are enamored of either the one-night street closures or the parklets. Finding parking in any of the rivertown villages can be aggravating even when all spaces are available. Management at the Tarrytown Music Hall worries that the weekend street closures will complicate access and egress for handicapped patrons.
Tarrytown has calculated that if they approve the use of parklets, they will charge users $75-a-month for each space, based on annual meter revenues.
Other questions remain open, and the Board wants to hear more from the public, including Main Street restaurateurs and storeowners. Among them:
Should there be a limit on the number of parklets? There are 19 food establishments on Main Street, not all of which rely on table service. If even just the sit-down restaurants set up only one parklet apiece, there would be almost no street parking left. If there is a quota, what criteria should determine who gets one—or more than one?
Should 15-minute pick-up/drop-off or handicapped spaces be exempted?
Should food emporia on Broadway be allowed to have parklets too?
Is $75-a-month the right rate? According to the village, meter usage exceeds that number, and parking revenues currently offset property taxes. The village estimates that the loss of 20 peak-demand spaces could cost as much as $40,000. Should the restaurants or village property owners pay for the additional dining space? When Dobbs Ferry launched their parklets last year, they supplied the barriers and initially charged $250-a-month but then lowered it this year all the way down to $50.
Should the barriers be uniform? There are several kinds of portable barriers, including Jersey barriers such as Dobbs uses, and “Yodocks,” both of which are orange plastic structures that can be filled with water. There are also so-called Mafia Blocks, more likely made of concrete, that are arguably safer but a lot harder to move. In Dobbs Ferry, some restaurants have decorated the tops of their orange plastic barriers with floral window boxes or other distinguishing characteristics. Tarrytown Trustee Doug Zollo spoke favorably at last week’s work session of portable floorboards set at the same height as the curb and extending another foot of protection at the outer edge of the space.
If the village approves parklets, and if a maximum number of restaurants buy into them, are the 12 full street closures even necessary?
Either way, diners, both local residents and visitors are going to have at least a dozen chances to dine al fresco in Tarrytown this summer—and maybe more.