The Sopris Sun

Curbside dining coming to town this summer

What’s next, valet parking?

John Colson

Sopris Sun Correspondent

Curbside dining will be coming to Main Street in Carbondale this summer, when at least two restaurants — phat thai, 343 Main St., and Allegria, 335 Main St. — erect dining platforms in the parking spaces in front of the two adjacent establishments.

The Carbondale Board of Trustees gave its approval for the plan on Tuesday at the trustees’ regular meeting.

“We contemplate the design/construction of a contiguous platform the length of our collective storefronts and the depth of a standard parking spot,” stated a letter from the restaurants to the trustees, which was part of the meeting packet on Tuesday.

The wooden platforms are to be nine feet deep from the curb outward into the street, and traverse the storefronts of the adjoining restaurants, eliminating several parking spaces on Main Street. The sidewalk would be left open to pedestrian traffic.

Town manager Jay Harrington told the trustees that the plan discussed at Tuesday’s meeting is “very similar” to one approved by the town, for phat thai only, a month ago.

Harrington, in a memo dated April 22, alerted the trustees to the fact that Allegria and the Pour House, situated in the same block as phat thai, had both expressed interest in doing the same thing as phat thai.

But town staff members told the trustees on Tuesday that Pour House manager Skip Bell recently withdrew his application to be part of the plan.

Bell, who was not at the trustee meeting, told The Sopris Sun on Wednesday that his withdrawal from the plan is not necessarily final, and is due primarily to financial considerations. He said the Pour House might still join with the other two restaurants, after he has talked it over with the owner of the business.

In the memo to the trustees, Harrington noted that due to the loss of parking spaces and the possibility of controversy as a result, “When adopting the policy (approving the restaurants’ plans), the Town Board indicated they were considering this a one-year trial period to gauge the success and impacts of street side dining.”

According to the application, the platforms would be built over the next month or so and curbside dining would begin in late May.

Allegria owner Andreas Fischbacher said the grand opening of curbside dining might coincide with the First Friday events on June 6 and continue until the end of September.

“It’s going to liven up the Main Street area,” predicted Fischbacher.

In other action, the trustees:

• Approved a “tasting permit” license transfer for the Sopris Liquor and Wine store at 1026 Highway 133, adjacent to the intersection of the highway and Main Street. The business has been sold by former owner Terry Kirk to Carbondale businessman Federico Peña, who also owns the Mi Casita restaurant on Main Street. A hearing on the full liquor license transfer is scheduled for the May 13 trustee meeting.

• Agreed to be signatories to a letter to acting state director Ruth Welch of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), requesting that Welch conduct a special review of a pair of BLM decisions to “suspend” gas-drilling leases in the Thompson Divide held by the SG Interests and the URSA energy companies. The decisions, made on March 31, 2014, extends until April 2016 suspension decisions that were made in 2013. The suspension decisions essentially stopped the clock on 25 leases, issued in 2003, that were set to expire last year, according to the letter. The letter maintains that the BLM ignored or subverted its own rules in granting the suspensions.

• Approved special event liquor licenses for two upcoming events — Dandelion Days on May 9-10, and The Shindig, a fund-raiser for the Mt. Sopris Historical Society, to be held at the historic Thompson House on Aug. 9.

• Approved a change in the town’s computer software for collecting and managing sales tax receipts from local businesses, from the Caselle system that has been in place for one year, to a new system called MuniRevs. Town finance director Renae Gustine told the trustees that the MuniRevs system is better suited to the town’s needs.

“It will save us money in the long run,” Gustine said. “It will make us more efficient. We can get better reports (submitted monthly to the town board) than we have been.”

She also said the local business community has complained about the difficulty of submitting sales tax payments and information under the Caselle system, and that businesses are in favor of the switch to the new software.

Sales tax revenues are the single largest component of the town’s annual income.

Gustine said she cannot say yet how much staff time will be saved by using the new software, but that she will know more after the new system is up and running in August.

• Elected Trustee Allyn Harvey as the new mayor pro-tem, replacing Trustee John Hoffmann, who has been mayor pro-tem for a year. The mayor pro-tem presides over trustee meetings when Mayor Stacey Bernot is not able to attend the meetings.