City Council discussed adding outdoor seating in the Uptown area Monday to encourage more residents to eat at local restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Athens city planner Paul Logue and Deputy Service Safety Director Andrew Chiki met with the Council to describe how the use of parklets from May 1 to Aug. 31 every year could allow for more people to shop at Uptown businesses.

Parklets are outdoor seating spaces that are installed in parking lanes to increase the amount of seating or outdoor space that a business has. Those parklets could help restaurants and other businesses abide by social distancing guidelines currently in place. 

Logue said the idea of using parklets had been suggested previously but is now critical due to the loss in revenue that many businesses have experienced due to COVID-19

“I think this summer is the absolute perfect time to do this because so many of the businesses are suffering, and customers want to be safer by sitting outdoors,” Councilwoman Beth Clodfelter, D-At Large, said.

Since parklets could reduce the number of parking spaces available Uptown, Logue suggested offsetting the loss in parking by providing an additional 34 spaces from a secure lot on College Street. 

Council also discussed possibly amending an ordinance that would allow for private tow-away lots to be located outside of the city limits. Currently, towing lots need to be within the city limits, Councilman Peter Kotses, D-At Large, said.

Sky Pettey, a lawyer from Athens, said many of the cars that are being towed are in poor condition and that it would be beneficial for the city to allow private towing lots outside of the city limit.

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