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Outdoor shopping and dining begins this weekend

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS Isaac Brady enjoys a burger from Odd Fellas at the new outdoor seating in the city’s Main Street parking lot. The area was converted by city public works crews into a space to provide another seating option for area restaurants.

LOCK HAVEN — Downtown Lock Haven is going to look a lot different this Friday.

PennDOT has approved a request from city council to close East Main Street from Jay to Vesper and Grove Street from East Church Street to Jordans Alley on Fridays beginning at 10 a.m. until Saturdays at 9 p.m.

“Beginning Friday, June 12 and continuing each weekend through Sept. 26, these sections of the downtown will be closed to traffic each weekend,” Director of Community Life Kasey Campbell said in a press release.

“The closure of this section of downtown will accommodate pedestrian traffic, enabling restaurants to expand sit-down dining into the sidewalk and parking area in front of their buildings,” Campbell explained. “Retail stores will also be able to move merchandise into the sidewalk and parking stall areas on the closed section of the Central Business District.”

Stores or restaurants that may not be equipped to offer outside services can contact the city planner.

“Any business in the city that may need to make an investment in tables, or other outdoor equipment in order to invest in their success is encouraged to reach out to City Planner Abbey Roberts (570-893-5903) to discuss the city’s new business enterprise loan offering which provides a 3-year loan at 1 percent with no payments for the first six months,” Campbell said.

Thanks to an approval by city council during their June 1 meeting, restaurants with PLCB liquor licenses will be able to serve alcohol outside as well.

“They will be able to do so for sit-down customers by getting a free waiver to the city’s Open Container Ordinance provided by application,” Campbell said.

The applications are being handed out by Campbell.

“The Clinton County Economic Partnership has also provided downtown restaurants with liquor licenses the information they need to streamline their application for approval from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to include the outdoor space their restaurant is being provided on Fridays and Saturdays,” she said.

City council passed a resolution to allow blanket approval of application by city staff as long as restaurants meet specific requirements.

“Restaurants will need to rope off the area… wait staff must attend to all tables and their must be at least one employee outside at all times,” City Manager Gregory Wilson told council on June 1.

City staff will have permission to give approval to a businesses request under the condition they continually meet the requirements. Staff will have the right to revoke the approval if necessary, he continued.

Wilson added that restaurants who want to continue to have outdoor seating in front of their building outside of the permitted Friday and Saturday must file for permission under the city’s sidewalk cafe ordinance.

The city’s outdoor eating space at its Main Street parking lot will also be available for residents to use, not only during the street closures but all week.

The dining park, put in place by public works employees last week, includes six tables spaced apart as per CDC and department of health guidelines. There are also bike racks, trash cans and raised flower beds and potted plants provided by Rizzo’s Flower Shop.

“The guys did a phenomenal job completing that. (Rizzo’s) has been incredibly generous and kind throughout this whole process,” Wilson said.

During the closures, parking will be available at the city’s remaining lots and streets through the area and will be free after 5 p.m. on Fridays.

“The most convenient to the downtown being the lot near the corner of Grove and East Church (streets), and the lot on East Water Street across from the YMCA. The Clinton County Courthouse has also agreed to open its lot to the public to provide free parking in its lot to downtown visitors beginning on Friday at 5 p.m. until Saturday at 9 p.m.,” Campbell said.

Entertainment will also be provided via the annual City Summer Concert Series starting Friday, June 26.

“The city’s concert committee will begin to hold its Friday night concerts on a stage in the middle of East Main and Grove intersection. Those interested in attending the free concert are invited to bring their own chair, but would be able to now enjoy dinner outdoors at one of the downtown’s unique restaurants while listening to the music of a weekly band,” Campbell said.

The stage will also be open on Saturdays for musicians interested in entertaining the public.

Any amateur or professional performer interested in donating their time to help bring success to the city’s downtown businesses can contact Campbell at 570-893-5612.

“In order for this program to bring the greatest amount of success in support of our local businesses, it will take partnerships with the city and county governments, Downtown Lock Haven, Inc., the economic partnership, business owners and most importantly the residents and guests of our community whose investment in locally owned and operated businesses sustains the community we love to call home,” Campbell said.

Campbell encourages any business that hasn’t reached out to her about how they can take advantage of the closure to do so.

Members of council voiced their support of the closure during their last meeting.

“This is a great plan and I’m so excited to see this happen,” Councilman William “Bill” Mincer said.

Councilman Steve Stevenson said the plan reminds him of the sidewalk sales the city previously held in the past.

“I think this is a great opportunity for all businesses downtown to jump in this on Friday and Saturday. I think once we get this going we’ll see an overwhelming response of people wanting to get out to go do something and the merchants should really be able to benefit from this act,” Stevenson said.

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