The Hailey City Council agreed on Monday to create three main “pop-up” dining areas downtown, giving residents more space to distance themselves for take-out dining this summer and fall during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[Seating areas] will consist of colorful pallet furniture, couches, umbrellas and rugs,” Community Development Director Lisa Horowitz said.
One dining option presented by city staff on Monday involved transforming the row of parking spaces along First Avenue between Bullion and Carbonate streets into a car-free corridor. That proposal was shot down in a public-comment session, however.
“The people I serve are between the ages of 50 and 85. Parking spots in front of the Meriwether Building are absolutely critical, especially handicapped spots,” said Lisa Hamilton, a Pilates studio owner. “I’m doing rehab work with people with new knees. Taking out parking would be devastating for them.”
Hailey resident Scott Runkel said he supported the idea of creating a car-free street, but business owners’ concerns should take priority during an economic downturn.
“There’s a lot of fear whenever you change something,” he said.
Council members Kaz Thea and Sam Linnet recommended using a small portion of First Avenue as an open-air seating area.
“It’s complicated to pick the right spot, but we have to try,” Thea said. “Town squares provide vibrancy for the entire community.”
Mayor Martha Burke said she would not back any controversial public gathering locations.
“If building owners are prepared to sue the city, that doesn’t bring the town together. That’s divisive,” she said.
After some deliberation, council members agreed on the following:
• Outdoor furniture will be added to a shady section of the Old Blaine County Courthouse property between the courthouse building and Hope Garden.
• Up to four parking spaces south of the Hailey Public Library will be used to accommodate outdoor furniture, with west Croy Street remaining open.
• A section of private property on north River Street adjacent to the Sawtooth Brewery Taproom will become a pop-up dining area for that business.