Bringing eats to the streets

Three downtown businesses have been approved to add new “streateries” (known previously as “parklets”) as part of a pilot program authorized by the Cottage Grove City Council.

Though the events of this past year have caused streets to be more thinly populated than usual, a new feature coming to Cottage Grove next month may provide a much-needed jolt of vitality to Main Street.

Three downtown businesses, Bartolotti’s Pizza, Jack Sprats and Axe and Fiddle, have been approved to add “streateries” to their business as part of a pilot study and grant funding has finally allowed construction of the structures to begin.

Streateries are extensions of sidewalks into parking spaces and provide a small space for people to dine or relax. The structures are promoted as a cost-effective way to add public gathering space and attract more businesses and consumer activity to an area.

Initially introduced as “parklets,” a two-year pilot program was authorized by the council in June last year to accept applications through Nov. 15, 2021 and issue a total of three streatery permits for the study period, limiting installment to one parklet on each block frontage.

At the time, councilors, citizens and business owners were largely supportive of the idea, citing the potential increase in foot traffic and downtown tourism.

Councilors Mike Fleck and Kenneth Roberts were dissenting votes on the pilot program, raising concerns about the safety of the structures and downtown parking limitations while remaining supportive of the program if more information were to become available.

Following authorization, two applications for the construction of streateries in front of downtown businesses Jack Sprats and Axe and Fiddle were approved last June. However, financial barriers caused by COVID-19 restrictions delayed the project until recently.

Finally, construction of the streateries began just weeks ago after Travel Oregon announced that the City of Cottage Grove was awarded a $30,000 investment through Travel Oregon’s Destination Ready program, which is going directly toward the streatery development project.

The Cottage Grove City Council approved the Bartolotti’s Pizza streatery application unanimously during its meeting this Monday (March 22).

While the streateries in front of Jack Sprats and Bartolotti’s Pizza will be placed on Main Street, the Axe and Fiddle requested from the city council that its streatery be moved around the corner to Seventh Street.

Councilors weighed the arguments for and against the move, considering that although the location may enhance participation during events by serving as public space and allow the Axe and Fiddle to serve out its side door, Seventh Street is a smaller road than Main Street and may slightly restrict vehicular traffic space.

Councilors also pointed out during an agenda session that the streatery’s originally approved position on Main Street could impede left-hand turns from Seventh Street.

The request to move the streatery to Seventh Street was approved by councilors Monday night under the condition that visibility issues are addressed on that corner.

The streateries are eight- by 20-foot raised structures with railing separating users from traffic. Each will be fitted to the slope of the street at its location, said Civic Engineer Ryan Sisson during the meeting, and will take up one parking space each.

Storm water will still be able to pass under the structures at curb lines.

Their modular design allows them to be taken apart at the end of the pilot season, which was approved as mid-March to mid-November.

Fleck said on Monday that his initial safety concerns had been alleviated.

“After looking at this at the city shops and the pictures you’ve shown, I actually feel much better,” he said to Sisson. “So I’m somewhat relieved about that, but I am concerned about parking.”

Councilor Chalice Savage declared a potential conflict of interest as she is a property manager of Bartolotti’s Pizza.

“While I don’t see the streatery being the defining factor of whether or not they pay rent, I do manage their property,” she said.

The streatery at Jack Sprats is expected to be in operation by mid-April, after which the Axe and Fiddle will see installation and finally Bartolotti’s Pizza sometime in May.

In November 2021, city staff will evaluate the pilot study based on surveys conducted by the city of Main Street pedestrians and business owners and submit a final report to city council.

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