Photo by George Lauby
The sidewalk canopies, at right, will be removed, and eventually replaced with awnings such as the red one.
The North Platte city council declared Tuesday that the sidewalk canopies will come down on 100-year-old Dewey St.The canopies were installed in the 1970s for the convenience of pedestrians. Critics have said for more than a decade that the canopies have outlived the times, and the downtown district would look better and more historical without them.
Dewey St. is one of the first streets in North Platte. It is paved with bricks that were laid around 1913.
The council unanimously approved the removal, but the work won’t happen anytime soon.
After the meeting, City Administrator Jim Hawks said removal work would probably begin in a year – next spring. He said the cost will be included in the city’s budget for the next fiscal year.
Although the council agreed to the removal, Councilman Jim Carman said he was mindful of the concerns of some of the merchants, that the project would disrupt their business.
“For some time, I’ve thought removing them is a good idea and I intend to vote that way tonight,” Carman said before the vote, “but I’m mindful that not everyone shares in that contagious enthusiasm.”
Carman urged the city to take appropriate steps to minimize the difficulties.
Councilman Brook Baker suggested a small group develop the removal plan, including at least one member of the council.
There was no motion on Baker’s suggestion, but after the meeting, Baker said he is willing to be on the planning group.
“We’ll have to see about it,” he said.
After the council voted, the audience, which filled the seats, applauded. The audience generally consisted of the downtown business association, some individual merchants and others who are interested in the removal.
After the canopies are removed, store owners are expected to install more historical awnings, paid by a 50-50 matching grant program, with store owners paying half the costs.
In other action, the council:
Approved a beer garden application for June 16-17 at the Platte Bar during Nebraskaland Days.
Approved a special alcohol license for an afternoon and evening of music at the Regency Retirement Community on May 27, during Memorial weekend.
Approved a special alcohol license at Smoker Friendly for a battle of the bands on Aug. 19, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., with a fallback date of Aug. 26.
Suspended the required three-reading rule to connect 680 feet of Echo Drive to the city’s sanitary sewer. The area is near the Echo Drive intersection with Walker Road on land owned by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church. The city’s contracted engineer Tom Werblow said there is trouble with a septic system and the owners would like to get the work done as soon as possible.
Approved, on first reading, annexing the land owned by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, about 10 acres. The council must approve the annexation ordinance two more times.