Never mind that there’s hardly any traffic. The state still won’t let Morristown close parts of South Street to expand outdoor dining for restaurants desperate to rebound from the pandemic shutdown.
So the town may close side streets, create parklets and open parking lots when Gov. Murphy’s permission for outdoor dining kicks in on June 15, 2020, Mayor Tim Dougherty said at Thursday’s virtual planning board meeting.
“We have a lot of work to do over the next week to get ready to do what we can to open up the town, to get some semblance of normalcy into our economy in our downtown,” Dougherty said.
In addition to restaurants, the town’s non-essential businesses are poised to reopen on the 15th, the mayor said. With COVID-19 cases declining, the governor has authorized a second phase of openings–with many modifications including limiting indoor retail to 50 percent capacity–across New Jersey.
Saying he was “very disappointed” with the state Department of Transportation for nixing closures of South Street, a state thoroughfare, Dougherty added: “I think it should be a case-by-case basis. We’ve shut down South Street many times over the years.”
Together with the town council and the Morristown Partnership, the mayor said he will explore “easing up some restrictions and adding some parklets, using adjacent properties if the property owners are okay with it, using parking lots, (and) closing down side streets.”