WESTFIELD, NJ — In an attempt to balance competing needs for outdoor dining spaces and parking spaces, a new traffic plan for Quimby Street will make the street a one-way thoroughfare seven days a week, Downtown Westfield Corporation announced Tuesday.
While the new traffic plan takes effect Thursday, the street will be closed to vehicular traffic starting 8 a.m. Wednesday as public works and police set up the street for the new design, a DWC press release said. Businesses on that street will remain open, the release stated.
Bob Zuckerman, executive director of Downtown Westfield Corporation, said the new design is intended to provide more space for outdoor dining and allow cars to park for quick curbside pickup and deliveries while creating an “attractive destination.” In June, the town had tested out closing Quimby Street on weekends.
“The former plan worked better for some businesses, and other businesses were more challenged,” Zuckerman told TAPinto Westfield. “The full-service restaurants benefited greatly from the dining space definitely, but there are other businesses, and not just those on Quimby Street but those around Quimby Street, that could benefit from the extra parking.”
Councilwoman Dawn Mackey, the council’s liaison to the DWC, said those businesses that rely on curbside pickup were adversely impacted during the weekend closures.
“It’s not just the restaurants,” Mackey said by phone. “We have retail and service businesses to worry about. We have a lot of stakeholders, and we’re trying as much as we can to be flexible.”
Downtown Westfield’s Reopening Task Force, a 16-member group comprised of town officials and local business leaders, developed the plan based on the feedback from local businesses, officials said.
The street plan is as follows, according to the DWC:
- Quimby Street will become a one-way street, with cars moving in the direction from Central Avenue to Elm Street (the side with non-angled parking). One-way traffic will now flow on this side of Quimby seven days a week.
- The eight non-angled parking spots on the north side of the street will be open seven days a week for 15-minute curbside pickup and delivery vehicles only. The 15-minute limit for these eight spots will be strictly enforced by the Westfield Police Department.
- The south side of Quimby with angled parking will become a parklet for pedestrians seven days a week. (A parklet is a parking spot converted into open space, often with seating.) No parking will be permitted on this south side of Quimby, although there will be access for the two alleyways on this side of the street.
- Two 20-foot tents, which will now have bistro lights, will be placed together close to the Central Avenue side of Quimby and used by the public for additional dining for take-out orders (from any restaurant) as well as fitness classes. Sanitized wipes will be available for customers to wipe down the tables in between seatings.
- The Elm Street side of Quimby Street and portions of the mid block will be used for additional dining tables for the restaurants on the block who have already been using this extra space for outdoor dining.
- The parklets will have new planters and plantings interspersed throughout the open side of the block. Additionally, the DWC has ordered attractive covers that will be placed over the concrete barriers to help beautify the parklets. These new covers will arrive in approximately two weeks.
- The DWC will continue to have live music on Quimby on weekend nights.
Zuckerman said that the one-way street configuration is intended to last through the summer, although the task force may reconvene to consider extending the arrangement.
“Depending on how the guidelines go with COVID-19, we may want to keep this until the weather gets cold,” he said. “Certainly, the outdoor dining portion will be helpful to any food establishment as long as indoor dining is banned.”
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