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Ask Mr. Answer Person: a reader is concerned about booths put up outside Magpie

Posted: Fri, Aug 3, 2012 8:05 AM

Christy e-mail Mr. Answer Person: "I have noticed that Magpie has put up booths for outside dining in front of Winneshiek Title & Abstract.  I would assume they have permission from Winneshiek Title & Abstract to do this, however, shouldn't this be a decision from the city if they can expand their 'outside' dining further down the street?  If all the restaurants in Decorah would start doing this, the sidewalks would not be walkable, causing many safety concerns for elderly residents, tourists who don't know the city, and customers to other downtown businesses.  Perhaps the city should consider abandoning the parking spots in front of Magpie so people have room to safely walk.  It seems to me that if Magpie wants an outside dining area they should find a location that can accommodate their needs."  

Mr. Answer Person says: Actually, Christy, Mr. Answer Person is going to side with Magpie on your question.  First of all, outdoor dining is seen as an attraction in many large American cities.  Outdoor dining areas opened by the Oneota Co-op, Don Jose, McCaffrey's, Java John's, Toppling Goliath and The Courtyard, to name a few, have drawn favorable comments from many people in the community. 

Secondly, city ordinances in Decorah allow businesses to use the first three feet of the sidewalk in front of their building.  That means the booths outside of Magpie are legal under City of Decorah ordinances.  Magpie has also worked with city officials to keep the rest of the sidewalk in front of their business clear of obstacles, so elderly residents and wandering tourists have a place to walk.
In short, I disagree with your conclusion that the booths are a hazard and nuisance—I think they're a good addition to summertime in Decorahland.

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