Old Towne Square located between Bank and Bollingbrook Streets will be closed with the possibility of relocating to a nearby off-street space. This follows an in-depth evaluation of the Square by City Manager Stuart Turille. Mr. Turille weighed all options including the economic benefit and public safety of the area.
At the July 20 City Council meeting, three options were presented by the City Manager, including:
- Square remains open, with street closed indefinitely
- Close Square and reopen street
- Open street and relocate Square to adjacent vacant lot at the corner of Sycamore and Bollingbrook
Turille analyzed the pros and cons of each option. “The balancing act between economic development and public safety must place public safety at the premium, including protecting the public from accidents, and our historic structures from damage, or nothing will exist to revitalize,” said Turille. “Should a fire occur, even one minute may be critical to saving lives and adjacent buildings. A narrow road with tables could delay response time by 2 to 3 minutes. We will not experiment with public safety.”
The presentation to Council also included the need for a comprehensive master plan for the downtown area, as well as developing partnerships with organizations such as Main Street and the Chamber of Commerce to explore additional events for the area. If the Square is moved to the corner lot, special permitting will be needed to serve alcoholic beverages in that location.
The City Manager stated that he has complete authority to move forward with reopening Sycamore Street. No Council approval is needed, but Council members did voice support for Mr. Turille’s presentation and decision. The rental of any space for the Square will need Council’s approval.
Old Towne Square was opened in May 2020 following the COVID state of emergency. The former city manager made the decision to allow the outdoor dining so that adjacent restaurants could meet spacing regulations and remain open. The COVID state of emergency was lifted by the Governor at the end of June 2021.
The City will send a letter to all business owners in and near the Square area explaining reopening the street and the possible relocation of the Square. Staff are discussing the exact date of reopening of the road, which will be announced before the action is taken.