Ben Grice

Ben Grice, owner of the Harvest Ale House in downtown Paxton.

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PAXTON — Before giving the go-ahead to a local restauranteur to offer outdoor dining by one of his downtown Paxton establishments, members of the Paxton City Council would like him to clearly outline his plans.

Harvest Ale House owner Ben Grice has spoken with Mayor Bill Ingold about the possibility of doing something to the sidewalk on the restaurant’s north side to enable several tables of outdoor diners, though Grice was unable to attend a meeting of the council’s property committee last week to further discuss his plans.

Committee Chairman Eric Evans questioned doing anything too drastic to the area in question in advance of an upcoming million-dollar downtown streetscape improvement project the city is pursuing. Evans also questioned what would be the expectations of the city if another business wanted something special done for it.

Committee member Rob Steiger wondered aloud about Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility, while others noted that the front door to the restaurant being right on the corner of the sidewalk at Pells and Market streets presented some special challenges. Also, there is a carefully tended, by volunteers, flower garden to the north of the restaurant, plus several trees.

It was also noted that several years ago, the council approved a beer-garden ordinance that requires tall fencing on all sides. Grice, however, appears to want something more open.

Ingold said he would consult with the city’s engineers about plans for sidewalk improvements, and the committee asked that Grice return to the city with a specific proposal.

Other business

Also at last Tuesday’s meeting:

➜ Alderman Bill Wylie brought up the poor condition of the city’s salt shed. It was decided that Public Works Director Mark LeClair will study repair options and report to the full council.

➜ LeClair said he would like to install a sidewalk alongside the north edge of Pells Park between High and Winter streets. However, soon-to-be council member Deane Geiken noted that there are many areas of sidewalk in town that need to be repaired, including on the south side of Pells Street, between College and High streets.

➜ Ingold said that through the city’s soon-to-be-revealed new website, residents will be able to reserve the several picnic areas in town, including the two pavilions in Pells Park and the one in Bixby Park. In the past, people have had to reserve their places for reunions and other activities in person at City Hall.

➜ The public works committee met to review proposed street-paving projects to be completed using motor-fuel tax revenue this summer. The proposed projects were recommended by LeClair with council members’ input. Most of the projects are east of U.S. 45, but several are on the west side of town, as well. A final list of projects will be approved this month. LeClair also presented a couple of blocks that would benefit from an oil-and-chip treatment.

➜ Steiger noted that with the new two-story, 63,400-square-foot addition to Clara Peterson Elementary School opening this fall, it will most likely mean changes in bus traffic and twice as much of it in the neighborhood surrounding the school. Steiger said the city will need to monitor which streets will get the majority of the use at 17,000 pounds per bus. However, committee members hope to expedite some patchwork paving at several locations using general fund revenue. Included in that patchwork is the curve where West Walnut and North Maple streets meet and also at Cambridge and Summer streets.

➜ The committee recommended to the full council that it approve the trade-in of the city’s 2012 Caterpillar skid steer toward the purchase of a new, larger one. The money is in the public works department’s equipment budget.