Outdoor cafe seating in city long overdue

We’re solidly behind the proposal to allow outdoor seating at restaurants and cafes in Lock Haven’s business district, something Mayor Bill Baney III is pushing.

It’s an amenity that has been ignored for far too long here. It used to be that PennDOT wouldn’t allow outdoor seating in front of eateries along state roads because they would be in the right-of-way and cause liability concerns.

Main Street in Lock Haven is a state road.

The city is reviewing a draft ordinance to address outdoor seating, one modeled after Reading and Lancaster. We’ve been to both of those cities and many others and find that outdoor cafes are plentiful and thriving, and that they add greatly to a city’s downtown atmosphere.

Who knows, perhaps a reasonable ordinance might spark private investment in outdoor cafe seating, which clearly is limited by the fact that nearly every downtown commercial building comes right to the sidewalk.

The draft ordinance as outlined in an Express story this past Tuesday is reasonable, even though it talks about fees (yes, they should be waived the first year and be very minimal after that), inspections and limits on when outdoor seating would be allowed. Downtown Lock Haven Inc. would be advised to weigh in via a letter to City Council. And we’d sure like to see more downtown eateries weigh in on the idea, rather than just sit back and not engage. Outdoor cafe seating would certainly add to the downtown’s vitality, for sure.