Galena council adopts outdoor dining for 2021

People eat outside in Galena, Ill., on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. PHOTO CREDIT: NICKI KOHL

GALENA, Ill.— Outdoor dining in downtown Galena will continue into 2021.

On Monday night, City Council members voted, 4-1, to allow outdoor dining on a portion of Main Street from May to October next year, with Mayor Terry Renner casting the lone dissenting vote. Council Member Robert Hahn was not in attendance.

Council members at their last meeting discussed such an extension, and some expressed concerns over how certain aspects would be handled, such as garbage collection. In response, city staff compiled a report detailing how the program could be implemented.

The city originally established the policy this spring and summer in order to assist downtown restaurants when indoor dining was not allowed as part of state efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Under the newly adopted policy, outdoor dining will run from May 1 to Oct. 24. Tents and canopies will not be allowed on Main Street but umbrellas will, the city will continue to charge at city parking lots, and restaurants will be required to pay a $150 permit fee to have outdoor seating.

In addition, the city also will slightly alter portions of Main Street that will remain open in order to provide access to emergency vehicles if needed. Portable bathrooms and hand-wash stations will be erected.

Several council members praised the city’s plan. Council Member Jerry Westemeier, who previously expressed a range of concerns with outdoor dining, said he was satisfied with the implementation strategy laid out.

“They did a great job putting these rules together,” he said. “If it doesn’t work at any point, we can fix it.”

Council Member Marc McCoy said he still had some concerns over how the restaurants would cooperate in sharing Main Street.

“I would just hope the restaurant owners can work this out on their own,” he said.

However, Renner repeatedly expressed his opposition to the policy, arguing that allowing outdoor dining in the summer likely would be unnecessary.

“The only reason I would close Main Street again is if we are in coronavirus again,” he said. “I don’t think we should shut down Main Street as long as it has been.”

Renner added that the policy might become obsolete if the state lifts its ban on indoor dining, but Westemeier argued that the policy could be repealed by the council if that occurs.