Downtown NA Economic Story

North Attleboro’s idea of changing traffic patterns downtown to allow restaurants to offer up more outdoor seating may be just what is needed to jump-start the town’s restaurant business.

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NORTH ATTLEBORO — The town is working with restaurants to possibly bring al fresco dining to a portion of the downtown.

Officials are exploring the feasibility of closing North Washington Street, from Elm Street and Richards Avenue to Orne Street, from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for three consecutive weeks beginning June 11.

The plan would allow restaurants to set up tables outside of their establishments in order to serve both meals and alcoholic beverages.

The announcement was made by Economic Development Coordinator Lyle Pirnie on Thursday during the fourth in a series of North TV panel discussions with town officials about the impact of the coronavirus.

Pirnie has been working with businesses to help reopen the downtown.

“The idea would be to put umbrellas on the sidewalks and out in the street for restaurants so that they can have a chance given social distancing to make money,” Pirnie said. “There’s no way they can make money with only 10 people in a restaurant.

“We’re talking about expanding the allowances for the town for serving alcoholic beverages outside. (State Rep.) Betty Poirier is working very hard with one of her colleagues, (State Sen.) Paul Feeney, on getting that through the Legislature.”

Extending the closing of the street into July and August would depend on the success of the three weeks and favorable input from the police and fire departments.

Town Manager Michael Borg is awaiting additional instructions from the governor before town hall and public buildings reopen, but has already been working with department heads on developing plans.

“It’s been a constant, ever-evolving process of looking at what we can do, what we can’t do, understanding where our limitations are, what constraints would have to be put into place and looking at all the different scenarios that would impact town hall and facilities,” Borg said.

“We pulled the emergency brake, came to a complete stop and now we’re trying to figure out how to get it all back up and running again,” he said. “It’s no easy process.”

The discussion, which also included Public Health Nurse Anne Marie Fleming and Fire Chief Chris Coleman, is being cablecast on North TV’s Government Channel: Comcast channel 98 and Verizon channel 23. It can also be streamed on the northtv.net website.

Visit www.northtv.net/watch/blog/panel-discussion/ to stream highlights of Thursday’s discussion.

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