By Bob Balgemann

Mayor Mike Chamberlain painted a potentially grim picture of the city’s future as aldermen considered proposals he offered for trying to get businesses around town back to work.

One of the suggestions was to temporarily close Buchanan Street to traffic, allowing extra tables to be placed in the middle of the street, not just to benefit Buchanan establishments but for visitors who’ve gone elsewhere for food and then come back to sit down and eat.

Also, he said he was “asking for a relaxation of the strict rules for sidewalk cafes because they’re not fair to our pure bar establishments, and so we can get back to business to some degree. We’ve got to get as many businesses back to earning a living as we possibly can.”

With those ideas tied to a partial reopening for Belvidere, he issued a stern caution about the future of the city based in part on the chaos experienced Memorial Day weekend in nearby Lake Geneva, Wis.

If his proposals were approved, he first said, “I will ask people to observe social distancing (six-foot separations from others) and wear masks, and we will enforce that. We can’t have what happened in Lake Geneva over the weekend happen here. There were more 10,000 people in the street, most of them from Illinois, and they (city officials) lost control of the town.”

His most dire remarks followed: “We can’t afford the potential of another wave of this (virus) in the fall. If we have to shut down again, we’re done.”

Then he reached out to owners of the effected establishments “to impress on their help and their customers that we’re bending over backwards here to help everybody out. We need some help from all of you. We’ll take it a week at a time and see how it goes.”

What was at stake, and what ultimately was unanimously approved by council on June 1, was Ordinance 496H, which provided temporary relief from the full requirements of Section 98-12 (a)(3) of the municipal code that regulates sidewalk cafes.

Street closing

The Committee of the Whole originally was asked May 26 to recommend approval of closing Buchanan Street, allowing picnic tables to be placed in the middle. They would be not only for customers of establishments along that street, but for those who wanted to go somewhere else to get food, then return and have a place to sit while eating.

“I’m asking for relaxation of the strict rules for sidewalk cafes, so we can get back to business to some degree,” Mayor Chamberlain said at that time. “We’ve got to get as many businesses back to earning a living as we possibly can.”

He said customers and visitors would be asked to observe social distancing and to wear masks “and we will enforce that.”

There was one call-in to that meeting, wanting to speak in favor of closing Buchanan Street.

Alderman Wendy Frank said she “wholeheartedly agreed” with what the mayor said, but asked, “How do you eat and drink with a mask on?”

The mayor replied: “You have to have a mask on when you’re out in public. If you’re sitting with your pod, your crew, your posse, at your table, take your mask off.”

Discussion of closing Buchanan Street later returned to the floor, with some opposition.

Chamberlain said his whole idea in recommending that was “to provide additional seating for people to sit and eat. Having two or three tables in a small space in front of your establishment and they fill up, there’s no place for any overflow.”

But it was agreed not to close the street after discussions between people sitting in the back of the council meeting room and the mayor.

That left an ordinance on the floor, to relax rules governing sidewalk cafes, for the remainder of this sidewalk cafe year. There was a call to remove the provision for closing Buchanan Street and the author of the motion, plus the alderman who provided the second, agreed. The motion passed in a unanimous voice vote.

There also was a motion to waive the two-week layover required of ordinances and it also passed unanimously, allowing final council approval of 496H to happen June 1.

More discussion

There was minimal discussion June 1, with Alderman Marsha Freeman asking, “In the (proposed) ordinance there is nothing that pertains to Phase 3. Bars and restaurants are still going to have to maintain social distancing; meaning tables should be six feet apart from one another. Are we going to enforce that? Six-feet apart on Buchanan Street is not going to allow for many tables.”

“That’s covered in Section 4,” City Attorney Mike Drella replied.

“They all know they have to be six-feet apart?” Freeman asked.

“Yes,” Drella answered. “We actually passed out pamphlets with regulations. When we move to Phase 4, rules and regulations are relaxed a little bit. This (Ordinance 496H) allows us to move into that phase, without having to readopt the ordinance.”

Alderman Dan Snow asked if the provision that 50 percent of an establishment’s revenue be from food was still in effect?

No, Drella responded. That provision has been temporarily removed.

Buy Viagra Overnight Delivery USA.