Government

Westfield’s Sidewalk Cafés Don’t Leave Enough Room for Pedestrians, Resident Tells Town Council

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A photo of the sidewalk cafe in front of Cosimo's taken Aug. 9 shows how much room pedestrians and people in wheelchairs have to get by. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
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Greg Kasko at Tuesday night's town council meeting. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
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WESTFIELD, NJ — There isn’t enough room for pedestrians, especially those with disabilities, to pass in front of the tables and chairs set out in front of some of Downtown Westfield’s restaurants, resident Greg Kasko told the town council at Tuesday night’s meeting. It’s a problem that’s being going on for years, he said, but this is the first time he’s brought it to the council.

Kasko’s wife was recovering from neck surgery, he said, and she needed to hold his arm for support as she walked. He explained that as they recently walked down Quimby Street, they could not pass in front of Fiama because the tables were placed too far out into the sidewalk.

On another recent day, he said, he noticed the same issue in front of Cosimo’s on East Broad Street.

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“There were tables placed such that you were lucky if you could get a person through the trees, parking meters, tables,” he said. “And I get it — we want our downtown to flourish. We want more people coming. We want people to be able to sit outside and enjoy themselves when they’re eating. I get all that.”

Both times, he said, he sent emails to officials. He asked the council why a town ordinance limiting how much space the cafes can take up on the sidewalk is not being enforced.

“And what I mean by that,” he said, “is you go to the town ordinance on the website, it clearly details what is expected of these restaurants and all almost all of them, except for possibly Turning Point, which has a large enough sidewalk, are in violation one way or another … I want this town council to please, please see to it that this ordinance is enforced.”

Town Attorney Russell Finestein told the council that the fire department enforces sidewalk café rules.

“We’ve generally had 100 percent voluntary compliance by the store owners once they are aware of the problem,” Finestein said.

Later, Kasko said that he filed a federal ADA complaint after the meeting.

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