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Uptown's sidewalk cafe policy to likely be revised

Post Date:02/12/2018 4:06 PM

Index Journal

By:  ADAM BENSON

More than a decade after setting a policy allowing for sidewalk cafes at Uptown Greenwood’s arcades, city officials say the time has come to review the arrangement as demographics have changed.

The City Council was clear that it did want to see the outdoor seating areas removed, but acknowledged issues have arisen including more litter, inconsistent aesthetics and competing musical venues.

“I think it’s a huge benefit to the Uptown having people coming in and seeing people outside. It makes it a lot more vibrant, but there do need to be real guidelines,” Mayor Welborn Adams said. “I don’t think we really want to let the merchants set all the rules.”

City Manager Charlie Barrineau said vendors can obtain furniture through the special taxes they pay to the Uptown Greenwood Development Corp. Some of the chairs and tables are sturdy, but others present possible safety hazards.

“All we’re saying is, this is a good time to look at the policy, look at what other communities are doing, talk with the merchants and see what’s working, what might not be working, what we can be doing differently and just assess,” Barrineau said. “We’ve got a good thing in that we’re seeing more and more use, so we’re trying to balance that, but we’re seeing things we just don’t want to see a lot of. More litter, more cigarettes, (violation of) alcohol policies, more people, we’ve got some noise occasionally.”

For example, councilwoman Niki Hutto said, during events such as the Festival of Discovery, a performer might be booked to play at a venue, while one next door is producing pre-recorded music. Setting guidelines to prevent such competition may be a possibility if the policy gets revised.

But the city won’t do anything without getting feedback from Uptown’s merchants and the public.

“You have to address the problem, but actually sit down and talk to people. We get killed enough for being bullies. We’ve got to do this right,” councilwoman Linda Edwards said.