WEST HARTFORD — On Nov. 16, the Department of Public Works began removing the outdoor dining barriers from the street in preparation of winter storm operations, according to an email from the Town.
The town commenced removal of the barriers at 5 a.m. on LaSalle Road and Farmington Ave., and then moved to Isham Road on November 17.
The town will restore Farmington Ave., Isham Road, and Memorial Road to the original traffic pattern with parallel on-street parking. Once the barriers have been removed, the pavement markings will be re-painted.
The new traffic pattern on LaSalle Road has been well received and will remain one-way traffic flow northbound. The new plan will look very similar to the present traffic pattern with two new additions: a bike lane on each side of the road and new head-out angled parking from Ellsworth Road to Arapahoe Road.
Head-out angled parking requires the motorist to perform an easy three-step maneuver: 1) signal a right turn to other drivers; 2) pull past the parking spot and stop; and 3) reverse into the parking spot in just one move.
Over 32 cities use this style of parking. Head-out angled parking provides a greater field of vision than traditional back-out angled parking, it is safer to load and unload because all sides of the vehicle are shielded from oncoming traffic, and it allows for more parking spaces than parallel parking because its uses less curb space.
The town will continue to offer free, 15 to 30-minute free parking for curbside pick-up of take-out orders at 33 locations on LaSalle Road, South Main Street, Farmington Ave., Memorial Road, and Isham Road. Parking lot kiosks will continue to allow 30-minute free parking. Shoppers, diners, clients and employees are asked to use the municipal lots and parking garages when their stay is longer than 30 minutes.
West Hartford will continue to support businesses during the winter months so that they can continue to serve their customers when the dining corrals are removed. Restaurants that have existing, previously approved outdoor dining areas may request to have those spaces covered and heated by submitting a request the Zoning Office.
Restaurants will have the ability to fully enclose their outdoor dining area with a temporary structure. covering and heating the outdoor dining space would expand the restaurant’s available indoor seating areas while still maintaining the required distancing between tables and staying under the 50 percent capacity threshold.
The on-street dining corrals this past summer were an experiment that proved to be very successful for everyone. Restaurants reported record number of diners were served from June to September.
The success of the outdoor dining corrals was the result of the creative collaboration between the Town of West Hartford and the restaurateurs who have taken these areas and turned them into garden alcoves with beautiful planters, potted trees, umbrellas, lighting, and furniture. They essentially took a blank slate and turned it into a work of art, which, along with their amazing cuisine, is the reason why customers have returned again and again to enjoy the al fresco ambience.
The town would like to replicate this on-street dining model next summer but there are a few steps that need to be taken first. Assuming that Gov. Ned Lamont’s Executive Order expires, the Town would no longer have the authority to place structures in the road without a zoning change. It is the town’s hope to obtain a zoning change to allow for seasonal on-street dining on a permanent basis.