County officials are reevaluating whether to continue all its outdoor eating programs, which are approved through Labor Day.
According to a news release from Montgomery County, “The Streeteries will continue in some fashion, although some will change their concept.”
Reaction from the community has been swift, with many people tweeting their outrage that Acorn Park in Silver Spring will revert to being a part and the adjoining streets reopened. The nearby Newell Street eatery will reopen to cars after Labor Day. However, the county announced it will remain an event-related location in which traffic will be closed during public events throughout the year.
Councilmember Evan Glass tweeted, “I’m disappointed in the decision to reopen Acorn Park. This community of dense apartment buildings deserves outdoor space to congregate, recreate and relax.”
I’m disappointed in the decision to reopen Acorn Park. This community of dense apartment buildings deserves outdoor space to congregate, recreate and relax. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can rethink our streets so that more people can safely enjoy them. https://t.co/9UX0Qfs9H6
— Evan Glass (@EvanMGlass) August 23, 2022
In a news release, the county said the Newell Streetery decision was based on mixed reviews from the community in a survey this past spring.
However, Casey Anderson, chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board, called that inaccurate. Newell Street is under the county Department of Transportation control, he tweeted. “I have no idea what “survey” they are talking about (by us or anyone else), and this was NOT a @MontgomeryParks decision – although we do think a shared street approach can work.”
The county’s press release is inaccurate in several ways – Newell Street is under @MCDOTNow control, I have no idea what “survey” they are talking about (by us or anyone else), and this was NOT a @MontgomeryParks decision – although we do think a shared street approach can work https://t.co/WAIqFwZNvy
— Casey Anderson (@CaseyAndersonPB) August 22, 2022
The Streeteries program began in 2020 to help struggling businesses during the pandemic. It allowed residents to gather on public streets that were closed to traffic and eat meals that could include alcohol.
The county DOT managed the street closings.
“The Streeteries have provided a practical solution to a pandemic-related problem,” said Executive Marc Elrich. “They served as much-needed gathering spaces during the pandemic and provided a creative solution.”
The Price Avenue Streetery in Wheaton will remain open and possibly expanded. A community meeting is expected to be held in late September or early October.
The streetery on Norfolk Avenue in Bethesda will remain as is and will continue to be closed to vehicles.
The Woodmont Avenue Streetery in Bethesda will be partially reopened to traffic after Labor Day due to construction work for the Woodmont Avenue Cycle Track.
A survey about the future of this streetery is being conducted by the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center. Meanwhile, Federal Realty Investment Trust, which owns adjacent properties to this streetery, has plans to use private funds to create a plan for increased outdoor dining capacity.
Any restaurants not part of a streetery that have been using sidewalk space for tents and outdoor eating need to contact the Department of Permitting Services about future plans.
“During the pandemic, we relaxed the permitting requirement on the use of tents and café spaces on sidewalks in support of businesses,” said Department of Permitting Services Director Mitra Pedoeem. “Although we will work with businesses after Labor Day, they will need to reach out to the Permitting Services Office if they have not yet secured tent and outdoor café permits to ensure they comply with accessibility requirements.”
“Streeteries have undeniably changed how we look at the public right of way,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin in the news release.
Bending over backward for drivers does not enhance quality of life in dense urban neighborhoods. Cars are loud, stinky, polluting, and extremely dangerous. They prevent people from enjoying public space. This is an indefensible decision. Expanded Acorn Park is awesome.
— Chris Reynolds (@UrbanEconomist) August 22, 2022
NEWELL STREET IS BEING REOPENED TO CARS IN LESS THAN 2 WEEKS.
— Paul Meyer (@pmeyer19) August 22, 2022
after two successful years as a space for dining and play, Montgomery County will reopen Newell Street to cars, while keeping streeteries in Bethesda and Wheaton in place https://t.co/XEsKGAMrfd
— dan reed 🦀🏳️🌈👋🏾 (@justupthepike) August 22, 2022