A local merchant's interest in taking his business to the streets sparked discussion among Brazil City Council members regarding the aesthetic advantages of sidewalk cafes.
Tuesday evening, the Council voted unanimously to approve the first reading of Ordinance 20-2005, which will allow for the placement of tables and chairs on the sidewalk on National Avenue between Depot and Alabama streets. Another reading is required before the Council can vote to pass the ordinance. A permit must be acquired from the Brazil Clerk Treasurer's Office, with the approval of the police and fire chiefs. Use of the sidewalk for tables, chairs and other items must not take up more than half of the walkway to allow for an uninterrupted flow of pedestrian traffic.
Terry Wilson of The Brazil Coffee Company addressed the Council in support of the ordinance. He said the coffee shop adequately shades the area in front of the building, and some wooden bistro-style tables and chairs could provide a pleasant outdoor option for customers.
"I think it would go a long way to help create some atmosphere down there," he said.
Mayor Tom Arthur explained that the stretch of National Avenue stipulated in the ordinance includes wide sidewalks as opposed to those that would be too cramped if tables, chairs or other items were placed outdoors.
Rick Moore raised the issue of businesses that serve alcoholic beverages, and restrictions regarding their consumption in front of a business seating customers on the sidewalk outdoors.
Arthur said that the Alcoholic Beverage Commission would have to handle matters pertaining to alcoholic beverages. City Attorney Joe Trout pointed out that some restaurants that serve alcohol outside in cities have fenced-off or gated areas which do not have an entrance or exit from the sidewalk area.
"Tables and chairs do look nice outside," Councilwoman Pat Heffner said.
Councilman Jim Sheese suggested a portable gate separating a seating area from the regular walkway could be helpful to both customers and pedestrians.
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Safety is in the eye of the fire and police departments," Trout said. "Terre Haute has this, and it's added a lot to the downtown. If it's done right, it can add to the charm of a city."
The ordinance will be on the agenda of the Council's next regular public meeting for the second reading on July 26.
The Council handled the following business during the remainder of the meeting:
The Council voted unanimously to approve, on second (final) reading:
- Ordinance 16-2005, which vacates a public alley between Poplar and Noble streets from Chicago Avenue west to the first alley running northwesterly and southeasterly in Brazil. The petition to vacate the alley lists Susan Kellum, Anthony G. Smith, Nancy J. Morlan, Mary Jane Gottsche, Raymond F. and Patricia A. Haase among those with land abutting the alley.
- The Council voted to approve the first reading of Ordinance 18-2005, sponsored by Fourth Ward Councilman Bill Lovett, to designate John Street at the intersection with Mechanic Street a stop street. The partial or full closing of Jackson Street due to construction of the new Clay County Jail has increased traffic on other streets, including Mechanic, Lovett said.
"A couple people have come close to getting hit there," he said.
- In other stop street designations, the Council unanimously approved the first reading of Ordinance 19-2005, which adds stops to Leavitt Street at the intersection with Knight Street. Mayor Tom Arthur said the ordinance will repeal a previous ordinance to nullify the existing yield signage.
- The Council unanimously approved the first reading of Ordinance 21-2005, which adds credit cards as a method of payment for utilities account payments and fees as well as fines, fees and services to the city.
Brazil Police Department
Brazil Police Chief Mark Loudermilk reported that no significant negative activity took place during the Fourth of July weekend. This week, he will be handling budget matters to be submitted with other departmental budgets on Friday. He also said that one of the dispatchers enrolled in a computer course has created a program to assist the department in its activities. BPD has been testing the program, which is free of charge, and has found it has enhanced employee's work.
Brazil Fire Department
Brazil Fire Chief Tobey Archer told the Council that Engine 221 has had some problems and was briefly out of service. He also reported he attended a Homeland Security class regarding standard operating procedures. Firefighters have been cleaning and greasing the aerial ladder and conducting drill training. The Chief also said that the YMCA Day Camp program was successful and fun, with about 60 children participating in the event.
Clay County Humane Society
Shelter Director Rick Moore told the Council the shelter has been overcrowded with animals, and to encourage adoption, fees associated with adopting animals have been reduced by $20 throughout the summer months. Potential pet owners, or those who aren't sure about adopting a pet, may also become foster pet owners without a long-term commitment or any charge.
At this time, the shelter is not accepting any more animals with the exception of emergencies. The spay and neuter program is also being offered at bargain prices.
"The only other solution is to euthanize them. Who wants to do that?" Moore said. "We don't want to euthanize unless it's deemed necessary."
Moore also said the shelter is prepared to present its budget to the city for 2006.
The Brazil City Council regularly meets the second and fourth Tuesday of the month in Council Chambers at City Hall. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. and are open to the public.