BATAVIA – Batavia MainStreet Executive Director Sherri Wilcox caught up with Shaw Media Illinois reporter Jacob Bartelson to discuss how the downtown area is preparing to further open in Phase Three of "Restore Illinois".
Wilcox discusses aspects such as restaurants, non-essential retail, the Farmer's Market and more. Here are the highlights of their conversation to get the public ready and informed for the next phase.
How MainStreet has been helping restaurants prepare for outdoor seating restrictions and more.
Wilcox: Downtown Batavia is a mix. We're a historic downtown. Some of our restaurants have parking lot space that they can expand into, and our city has allowed for a lot of those restaurants to utilize some parking lot space, if their land lords are cool with it. And, there's guidelines for that, and a lot of those are expanding into that space; to create a larger area for outdoor dining.
In addition to that, though, we have a lot of restaurants that just have street parking; or, most people utilize the parking garage and they don't really have that expansive space at their restaurant location. Probably the best example of this is North River Street, where we have a variety of restaurants – either on the street or in the continuous buildings there – that don't really have a lot of outdoor access of their own.
The city, in cooperation with the Chamber [of Commerce], MainStreet and the Park District have been working together this week to set up an area on River Street with public access picnic tables. So, that people can go to these restaurants, get their carry-out and they don't have to go home. There's tables available for them to sit at and enjoy their meal.
Social distancing is still there. We're spreading the tables out...the groups will be small. But, it gives sort of an added expanse of outdoor space that all of those restaurants can utilize. What's nice about it, is, they can continue to do their regular carry-out or curbside service without having to try to staff a serviced patio, which many of them aren't in a position to do yet...this is a way to give them some more outdoor space that they can share and that our public can enjoy without a cost to them.
On expanded guidance from MainStreet as things ramp up:
Wilcox: Everybody has slightly different rules. And, there's going to be different guidelines based on the business you go into. It says five people per 1,000 square feet, I think, in retail locations. All of our retail locations are a different size. We ask for patience, obviously. Everybody is trying to do everything that they can do to keep people safe.
We actually have a re-opening pledge that we're going to offer up to businesses; that they can sign on to and post a sticker in their window so that people know that they've committed to everything in that list for safe re-opening.
What I've been saying personally out of MainStreet, is: The most important thing to do is cover your faces, wait your turn and spread your support. That's the most of it...some our our retail stores are choosing not to open yet at this time beyond the curbside. Others are doing things out on the sidewalk. There's a lot of variety.
For the most part, be courteous be patient, come out and support those businesses because they need your help.
On the Farmer's Market opening Saturday
Information: 8 a.m. to Noon on North River Street between Wilson and State Streets.
The market will be every Saturday from June through October as restrictions allow.
Wilcox: We've gotten so much positive feedback about the Farmer's Market. That's another thing that we've had to look at guidelines that were offered up to us by the Illinois Farmer Market Association, and approved by the [Illinois] Dept. of Health for things that we can do to keep that market safe and accessible...
The market is going to be predominantly down one side of the street instead of two to allow for more distancing. We're going to utilize the parking lot off of State and River [Streets] for more space...in a zipper format so that people can have plenty of room to stand in line; plenty of room to [shop].
There's going to be sanitizer available on every table. Everybody is going to be covering their face. We've asked [to] leave your pets at home. Really, that's just for space consideration. We want to make sure as many people can enjoy the Market as possible at a safe and social distance.
There will be food provided, as there has been every year. We're just asking people to eat it off-site or in the picnic area...we want to be able to be open. We want to be able to offer this to the community. There's so little that we're going to be able to offer in terms of the traditional events that we have in town. And, the Farmer's Market is essential.
Wilcox said it has almost 40 vendors for the market scheduled to participate.
In a follow-up email, Wilcox said MainStreet is offering free delivery on Farmers Market online orders this season, courtesy of their sponsor, Gerald Subaru in North Aurora.
Vendors will bring the orders to the market, and a Gerald Subaru driver will deliver them free to homes in Batavia, Geneva and North Aurora.
On the Boardwalk Shops:
Wilcox said a few of the shops should be done being built this week and the rest next week.
MainStreet is looking at a mid-June opening.
On Second Friday events:
MainStreet launched the program online this year and saw positive participation from businesses ranging from music, discussion, fitness and more.
Their June event on June 12 will remain virtual, but could see a dual mix of online and live on the street as restrictions allow.