First Street near plaza in downtown St. Charles to remain closed to vehicular traffic
Following the success of the outdoor dining program on First Street Plaza in downtown St. Charles, First Street next to the plaza will remain closed to vehicular traffic indefinitely.
St. Charles aldermen voted unanimously on Dec. 20 to authorize the continued closure of First Street to vehicular traffic between Main Street and the parking garage entrance /Walnut Street extended.
"This closure has generally been well received by the plaza area businesses, and it wouldn't make sense at this point to reopen and close the street now that the businesses and customers have adjusted to this configuration," Community Development Director Russell Colby told aldermen on Dec. 13.
"Additionally, given that the long-term plans for the plaza suggest that the street will be closed permanently, staff is proposing that the closure not have a specific end date, but identify that the city council would need to authorize reopening the street to vehicular traffic."
In September, aldermen approved extending the outdoor dining program through the winter season and ending it by April 15. The program was started last year as a way to help restaurants having to comply with the state's COVID-19 mitigation plan.
The city recently broke ground on a project to expand the First Street Plaza. Last year, aldermen unanimously voted to purchase the former Manor Restaurant site at the southeast corner of Main and First streets for $1 million to expand the First Street Plaza.
First Ward Alderman Ron Silkaitis said he thought the city should require the businesses in the plaza to sign something like a lease agreement.
"This is public property, and we're blocking it off for the businesses in the plaza," he said. "I want them to thrive, but they're using a public street."
Colby said that will be discussed in the future. "This is just specifically about the closure of the street to vehicular traffic and not usage of the street by any businesses, just the closure to traffic," he said.
In the spring and summer, the city reached out to businesses on the plaza and asked the owners about the closure of First Street near the plaza.
"Generally, they appreciated having the activity that was occurring in the area as a result of having the street closed," Colby said.