South Haven may close streets to promote social distancing

Coronavirus

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — The City of South Haven is discussing a proposal that would close some streets to give more outside space to social distance this summer.

Several business owners have started an effort to discuss the plan and other options to help with operations during the pandemic.

Ryan Servatius runs the Things to do in South Haven Facebook page and has received a lot of ideas after posting several possibilities to the page.

“If we can get more space for our restaurants when they do open up with the social distancing, which would mean going outside and have an open-air concept that would help out our businesses,” Servatius said.

Other ideas include blocking off-street parking spaces or back parking lots to use as additional restaurant seating or retail space.

Jay Marcox, the owner of Phoenix Street Cafe and several other restaurants, is not convinced a street closure makes the most sense.

“I think it would end up probably creating a few more problems. It would also interfere with some of the downtown merchants, but at the same time, we’ve got a beautiful pavilion over there that sits idol,” Marcox said. “We could basically set up a food court.”

Many restaurants and other businesses are concerned reduced capacity inside their building because of the pandemic will be detrimental and additional outside space could help make up some of the lost revenue.

Tom Feeney, an owner of Harbor Light Brewing, thinks looking at street closures and other options is needed.

“The fact is we’re going to move forward. If we find things that need to be changed, we change it. If it’s working, great,” Feeney said.

City manager Brian Dissette welcomes the dialogue but says ideas need to be carefully evaluated.

“If we are going to take a hard look at it, it would be through a variety of methods. We would be engaging our downtown development authority our planning commission and ultimately, the city council. That’s a big decision,” Dissette said.

The summer tourism season is crucial for the South Haven economy. Many business owners say they are hopeful adjustments can be made soon to allow for more capacity and protect customers at the same time.

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