Nassau County Executive Unveils Road Closure Plan To Help Restaurants Expand Outdoor Dining

Sophia Hall
May 28, 2020 - 2:04 pm

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    MINEOLA, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has unveiled a road closure plan intended to help struggling restaurants and retail stores.

    The new normal means fewer tables in restaurants to maintain social distancing, but that also means fewer customers.

    To help the struggling economy, Curran wants to shut down county-maintained roads to traffic in downtown areas to allow restaurants to set up tables six feet apart in the roadway.

    "We also believe that the extra capacity of sidewalk and street seating could make the difference for survival for restaurants and businesses," Curran said.

    Curran said the best part about this plan is that it could take effect now without having to wait until Phase 3, when restaurants are set to reopen under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan.

    "That's allowed during the pandemic, that would be allowed now," Curran said.

    For example, in Farmingdale, more than 400 tables could be set up on its Main Street. By reservation only, people could come, take a seat and have food from nearby restaurants delivered to them. Delivery of food is allowed now and when Phase 3 takes effect, servers could come to the tables like before the pandemic.

    Famingdale outdoor dining plan
    Sophia Hall/WCBS 880

    "An hour doesn't go by where somebody comes to me and says, 'When are you opening Main Street? I need my Guinnes, I need my steak, I need my pasta,'" said Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand.

    Curran said local lawmakers can shut down Main Street once a week, once a month or every weekend — it's their choice.

    The permit from the county will be issued in about one week.

    The plan could also make it easier for customers to use curbside pickup at retail stores, which is now in effect, and allow for more space once in-store shopping begins in Phase 2.

    Some of the downtown areas with county roads include Farmingdale, Floral Park, Roslyn, Rockville Centre and Oyster Bay.

    The New York City Council also introduced legislation Thursday to open streets, sidewalks and public plazas to outdoor dining, with safety requirements. It could mean entire streets could be shut down for restaurant service, or a wider sidewalk, or pedestrian plazas. 

    In Yonkers, Mayor Mike Spano says outdoor dining permits will be approved when the state authorizes it.

    In New Jersey, the mayor of Brick wants to waive the usual process and even the fee to let restaurants go al fresco.

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