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City council to consider downtown business coalition request

Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux, June 13, 2019 - Photo by Rhonda Silence
Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux, June 13, 2019 - Photo by Rhonda Silence

The Grand Marais City Council has been meeting weekly since its declaration of a state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to meetings strictly dedicated to changes to city operations because of the pandemic, regular meetings are held on the second and last Wednesday of each month, so meetings on those dates have very full agendas. 

At the last city meeting, on Wednesday, June 3, the city talked extensively about the pandemic impact on the municipal campground and liquor store. The council also considered changes to city ordinance to allow local dining establishments to have outdoor dining on the sidewalks. The council unanimously approved that change, which came to the city from the Cook County Chamber's Business Coalition. 

But the council stopped short before approving another request from the business coalition, to close a portion of First Avenue West  to traffic. The request asked for the city to close First Avenue West from the alley north of Joynes Department Store to the north
edge of Grandma Ray’s for the remainder of June and all of July, with an option to continue the closure through until Labor Day.  The coalition said it hoped that this would help Grandma Ray's serve enough customers to survive the pandemic. 

The closure could also allow other businesses in the area to expand their offerings, possibly with tables set up with activities for visitors. Supporters of this idea noted that this would allow more physical distancing and could create a welcoming "street fair" atmosphere. 

There was consensus among the city councilors that more information was needed before approving this request. City staff was asked to bring back more information to the next meeting, which will be June 10 at 6:30 p.m. See the city council agenda for the meeting here. 

WTIP's Rhonda Silence spoke with Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux about the proposal in this interview.