MANCHESTER, NH – A special Board of Aldermen meeting will be held June 20 for the sole purpose of fielding a request by seven downtown businesses, asking the city to reverse approval of summer weekend closure of Lowell Street for outdoor restaurant seating at Penuche’s Music Hall.
The meeting was scheduled after owners of other bar/restaurants submitted a letter jointly objecting to the closure of Lowell Street to benefit Penuche’s Music Hall. That request, made by Penuche’s owner Chuck Kalantzis, was approved June 5 by the Committee on Public Safety.
The closure request was made in the same spirit as a similar closure on Hanover Street. Penuche’s, which used to be located on Hanover Street, recently closed that location and reopened on Elm Street.
The request to close Lowell Street to allow for outdoor seating was approved June 5 after a brief discussion over whether the request should mirror a similar request by business owners to close Hanover Street for outdoor dining. City Clerk Matthew Normand pointed out that the difference between requests is that the Hanover closure is on behalf of a non-profit entity formed by Hanover Street businesses, which allows them to waive the $100 per day entertainment fee.
Also, the hours of closure for Lowell Street requested by Kalantzis are longer than the Hanover Street closure – Kalantzis requested 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., while Hanover Street businesses requested closure between 6 -11 p.m., primarily for dining, Normand said.
Among the concerns enumerated by the seven downtown businesses over closing Lowell Street were limitation of on-street parking, impeding pedestrian and vehicular traffic at the busy Lowell and Elm intersection, and the potential public safety issues around having an outdoor area dedicated to the consumption of alcohol in a concentrated area. The businesses say the vote to allow for the Lowell Street closure was “rushed” through the Board of Alderman later that same night, without the opportunity for input from “neighboring stakeholders or the public.”
The letter, sent on behalf of The Mint Bistro, McGarvey’s, The Pint Publik House, Gale Motor Company, The Red Arrow, The Wild Rover and Gamache Enterprises, also asserts that as downtown businesses that all rely on the availability of traffic flow and parking for their own customers, they were not contacted or consulted about the closure prior to the June 5 vote.
They are asking Aldermen to reject the street closure.
The meeting is set for 5 p.m. in the third-floor Aldermanic Chambers at City Hall.