Crookston bars and restaurants who included their parking lots in their liability drawings are clear to offer outdoor seating starting June 1, 2020, Crookston City Council members found out at Tuesday’s City Hall meeting. Council members asked interim City Administrator Angel Weasner if the city needed to “relax” any ordinances that might prohibit local bars and restaurants from serving outdoors, and Weasner said there were some businesses who did not include parking lots in their liability drawings or they may not have private space available, and the council would have to look into it.

    The Council did elect to waive rental fees on city picnic tables for city bars and restaurants to use for outdoor seating starting June 1, and amended the motion to include the need for a damage waiver as the businesses would be responsible for pick-up and drop-off.

    Ward 1 Council Member Jake Fee mentioned they should be more “business-friendly” like Grand Rapids who was also offering their bars and restaurants tables, when the conversation was getting to the point of making a motion to help in some way. Ward 5 Council Member Joe Kresl echoed Fee’s thoughts saying he knew of some businesses having a hard time finding or buying tables.

    “Some haven’t been able to do appropriate business for quite some time,” Kresl added.

    Parks & Recreation Director Scott Riopelle told the Council the city has 15-20 wood picnic tables available and they’re typically $5 a table. He reiterated the need for a damage waiver as the city spends significant time maintaining the tables.

    Transient food permit licenses to allow restaurants/food trucks to serve on city-owned property were also mentioned during Tuesday’s meeting and Weasner said she would look into it, but didn’t want to bring it up that night. (Moorhead’s City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved allowing their city’s bars and restaurants the ability to use city-owned parking lots and sidewalks for outdoor seating starting June 1 through December 31 with a “temporary use agreement.”)

    Weasner mentioned later that the city’s portable patios, donated by the Downtown Crookston Development Partnership (DCDP) and made by Wagner Mobile Welding, could be available but are only approved in certain spots.

FOOD TRUCKS

    Prompted by the DCDP’s request Tuesday for an agreement to be drafted to allow food trucks to park on city-owned property such as the former Wayne Hotel parking lot or Downtown Square, Weasner said she will be researching the agreement the city has with the Crookston Farmers Market to aid in creating a similar agreement with the downtown group.

    Fee mentioned it was a “small price to pay” to get people downtown and Ward 3 Council Member Clayton Briggs, who is also a liaison for the DCDP, echoed Fee’s comments saying he noticed the decent amount of traffic at the group’s last food truck event with Drafts Sports Bar & Grill on May 21, which was held on private property in Opticare’s parking lot owned by Jeff Evers, also a DCDP member.

    “I’ve heard good comments on having food trucks downtown and providing a different type of food,” Briggs explained. “Let’s see if we can work with the DCDP to get this taken care of.”

    Later in the conversation, Fee said he’d like any changes to the transient food permit license ordinances for food trucks to be worded differently for local businesses like Drafts or the Irishman’s Shanty who do outdoor catering or have food trucks, those who have “brick and mortar”, to not have to pay a fee to rent the space if one is required.