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Sunflower adjusts plan for outdoor seats, drinks

Theater might not use parking spots
The Sunflower Theatre and KSJD Radio headquarters.

KSJD Radio plans to provide outdoor seating to guests at the Sunflower Theatre in the near future, but those plans might not include installing a parklet on the street.

In a Cortez City Council workshop on June 27, KSJD’s executive director, Jeffrey Pope, told council members he hoped to build a permanent outdoor seating area, known as a “parklet,” that would replace a few parking spaces outside the Sunflower Theatre. On Friday, he said KSJD still hopes to serve food and alcohol to theatergoers on the sidewalk this fall, but the organization no longer has plans to build a parklet. He said he and his staff are “exploring alternative options” in response to feedback from neighboring businesses.

The city council voted on Aug. 8 to pass an ordinance allowing businesses to apply for permits to serve alcohol in the street, as long as the area of service is enclosed by some kind of barrier, a rule that applies to sidewalks as well. A few Cortez business owners complained at that meeting about the proposed parklet, which would benefit from the ordinance, saying it would restrict parking for their customers on Main Street.

“We’ve fielded calls of concern from other business owners, and we’re taking them into consideration,” Pope said on Friday.

He said that because of those concerns, the theater is not planning to build a parklet, although he added “that could change tomorrow.”

He does still hope to provide outdoor dining in the near future, though. The theater has an easement from the city of Cortez that allows alcohol to be served on the sidewalk outside both theater entrances, but Pope said the station has never used it. He said the theater might start putting out temporary furniture and serving alcohol outdoors during shows as early as mid-September.

Since the theater’s easement extends only 6 feet in front of the building, though, Pope said he hopes to extend the sidewalk on Market Street to give guests more room to sit down without impeding foot traffic. KSJD might also apply for an extension of the easement. In April, the organization applied to participate in the city’s sidewalk cost-share program. According to the city website, the public works department uses the program to provide 50 percent of the cost of repairing or adding new sidewalks in front of qualifying businesses and residences.

Public Works Director Phil Johnson, who met with Pope on Friday to discuss the proposed sidewalk addition, said it would not impact parking on that side of the street.

“They’re basically going to extend the curb out,” he said. “The parking spots will stay.”

Pope said he hopes the theater will be able to offer outdoor dining and drinking by the end of the year.

“I would love to be able to get it done this fall,” he said.

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