EagleHerald Staff Writer

MENOMINEE—The Public Safety/Public Works Committee Wednesday discussed a request to close down a portion of 8th Street for the summer.

A letter had been submitted to the City of Menominee from Tom Everard, the owner of Dexter’s, requesting that the city close off 8th Street from 10th Avenue north about 123 feet from May 1 to the end of September. This request was made in order for Dexter’s to use the area for outdoor seating to accommodate social distancing guidelines.

The committee voted to table the request until the next month’s committee meeting, directing City Manager Tony Graff to communicate their recommendations to Everard and ask him to re-submit a letter with those recommendations in mind.

Those recommendations came during discussion.

Councilmember Steve Fifarek initially moved to remove the request from the agenda. “The reason I’m saying that is, I can see it for a weekend, but not from May to September,” he said.

“That is my neighborhood, and I took no end of flack about that last year,” said Mayor Jean Stegeman. “People were really not happy about the length of time that that was closed. They very much echoed Councilman Fifarek; they understood closing it for a single event, but to have that block for as long as it was last year was very upsetting to neighboring taxpayers.”

Committee Chairman Doug Robinson, after reading the letter, took the position that the city should do whatever it takes to assist struggling businesses. “Not knowing what the COVID restrictions are going to be for the coming year, I would tend to lean more towards the request. I understand the neighbors being upset that there’s noise going on and maybe people partying outside in the street, but we also need to work with our businesses in this trying time,” he said.

Councilmember Dennis Klitzke asked if it would be possible to allow Dexter’s to use the requested area on weekends rather than straight through the summer. “To close it off for the whole summer, I think it’s asking a bit much, especially with the other taxpayers involved, but if we could limit it to some degree or close off half the street, that could work,” he said.

From a traffic standpoint, Robinson said that closing half of the street wouldn’t be a good idea, however he did agree that closing the area off for the weekend would potentially work well.

Stegeman said the city was responsible for putting up the blocks and removing them when it was time to reopen the street last year. “While I think we should help our restaurants as much as we can, that’s an awful lot of DPW (Department of Public Works) time; I don’t know that that’s appropriate,” she said.

Klitzke and Fifarek agreed, and noted that it would be the responsibility of Dexter’s to put up and take down the road blocks, rather than the city’s.