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Sidewalk pedlets debated

A waitress serves food to customers seated on the sidewalk in front of Urban Joe's Cafe on Aug. 7 in West Allis.

A waitress serves food to customers seated on the sidewalk in front of Urban Joe's Cafe on Aug. 7 in West Allis. Photo By Peter Zuzga

Aug. 13, 2014

West Allis — Pretty much everybody agrees that pedlets, deck-like constructions that extend the sidewalk into the street so people can dine at outdoor tables on the sidewalks, beautify the Greenfield's downtown.

But before city officials allow too many of them, they want to see if business owners up and down Greenfield Avenue worry that the pedlets take up too much street parking.

Aldermen will likely discuss that at a September meeting.

West Allis might just be the first community to have pedlets, Mayor Dan Devine said tongue-in-cheek. He actually coined the term which is a takeoff of parklet, also a deck that extends into the street. But diners sit on the parklet deck.

However, because Greenfield Avenue is busier than most other streets where parklets are located, city officials want diners on the sidewalk instead where it's safer. Pedestrians walk on the deck around the tables, hence the name pedlet, Devine said.

"We're proud to have the first pedlet in the country," he joked.

The city's first pedlet was in front of the Urban Joe Cafe that was set up on a trial basis.

Owner Joe Tairi said from his perspective the pedlet has been very successful.

"One lady said, 'Thank-you for bringing Seattle to West Allis,'" he said. "It's very nice for the city, it promotes a nice ambience."

Devine agrees: "When I drive by and see all the people having lunch or a cup of coffee and all the flowers blooming, it looks really nice."

"It adds to the vibrancy of the downtown," he said. "I think there's potential to the downtown and this is a great step toward reaching that potential."

While city officials were to check the opinions of business owners about parking, the common council last week approved a city policy covering pedlets to a guide any other business owners considering pedlets.

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