Several weeks ago, Worcester Magazine wrote that outdoor dining had finally found its happy place; that there had been no public complaints after several straight summers of political bartering and bickering.
Those perennial complaints–from the curfew on outdoor dining, to the locations, not to mention a one time debate on controlling decibel levels–have been mostly voiced by one man, the head of the Shrewsbury Street Neighborhood Association, and habitual rule-stickler Gary Vecchio.
After we ran that quick “all’s good” note, Vecchio dropped us a line to say that he his organization felt that the problem this year was that businesses were crowding the sidewalks to the point people with baby carriages or in wheelchairs had been forced off the sidewalk into the road.
Today, those complaints got their first real public airing(he asked us not to publish his letter at the time) in the Telegram, after an Association meeting last Thursday night. Vecchio reportedly accused restaurants of not following the rules, while saying “We’re not looking to close anyone down or put an end to café dining; we just want five feet of space on the sidewalk.
Vecchio calls for restaurants to respect the 5 feet of room required under law; that law stems from ADA regulations.
Still, for places that have sidewalk spaces of anything less than 10 feet, 5 feet of space could mean shutting down outdoor dining.
Vecchio has other complaints: he wants the city to shutdown bars and restaurants that have set up outdoor bars on patios, even if they’re removed from the street.
While police at the Association meeting said all restaurants were properly blocking off their dining areas, they said complaints would be forwarded to the License Commission this Thursday.