SUMMIT, NJ - The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has approved the continued closure of Maple Street -- in both directions, from Springfield to the nearest alleyways -- through October 1, enabling the City of Summit, and its partner Summit Downtown, Inc. (SDI), to continue the expanded outdoor dining program in the Hilltop City. At its last meeting on August 18, the City of Summit Common Council approved the program through November 30, meaning the City will have to apply to the NJDOT for another two extensions in order to fulfill that timeline.

According to the City of Summit, the NJDOT grants closure requests of this nature 30 days at a time.

The outdoor dining program is designed to help downtown businesses combat the myriad challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in light of the hold -- still in effect -- on indoor dining. By working together to help restaurants open to customers, SDI and the City facilitated the use of parking spaces and the closure of Maple Street to allow for additional table service while restaurants are still unable to open for indoor dining. 

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Summit Downtown, Inc. also purchased and installed market string lights downtown. Coordinating with City departments in Administration, Engineering, Fire & Police, SDI hired a contractor to install 4,800-feet of LED 'Thomas Edison-style' lights along the sidewalks on Beechwood Road, Union Place and Maple Street, as well as across Maple Street, adding to the downtown ambiance for diners and shoppers alike.

“We felt it was important to do what we could to create an attractive atmosphere downtown in the hopes of attracting shoppers and diners to support the downtown businesses,” said Bob Conway, SDI Chairperson. “We hope to keep the lights up as long as possible; it makes the downtown feel welcoming and nice to visit and stroll around.”

The illuminating addition has been well-received already, according to SDI Executive Director Nancy Adams.

“We’ve had a very positive response to the lights already. As the weeks move on and it gets dark earlier, they’ll make people comfortable coming downtown because of the extra light. Just like the Summit community came together with donations during the Sustain Summit campaign, we hope this wonderful community will continue to come downtown to support our local businesses.” 

Because of overwhelmingly positive feedback from both consumers and businesses, SDI is also bringing back 'Summit Street Sounds' after Labor Day, hiring musicians to perform every Thursday evening from 5-8 p.m. at four to six locations throughout the downtown every week for six weeks.