wdr-virginia-dwbia

Business improvement association president Virginia Vosco-Pizutti said the city could have made money on the idea. (CBC)



A proposal to allow a downtown bar to use a small Windsor park area as a patio has died before even getting to city council.

Parks director Don Sadler had recommended allowing the White Star Lounge to lease the Chatham Street Parkette for a dollar a year. But Thursday, faced with growing opposition by local businesses, Sadler dropped the idea.

The owners of the White Star Lounge on Pitt Street wanted to turn the Chatham Parkette behind their bar into a patio with new landscaping and other amenities.

They would have assumed annual maintenance costs of $4,200 a year, and paid the city a lease of $1 a year for 15 years.

Even though the city has waived patio fees this year, normally bar owners have had to pay hundreds of dollars a year for their patios.

The Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association (DWBIA) says it was never consulted about the White Star proposal.

"No consultation with adjacent business owners, no consultation with the DWBIA, and I didn't understand why, if they want to use city property for a patio, why they wouldn't just pay the same patio fee that everybody else pays when they use city property," said restaurant owner Mark Boscariol.

"Whether it's paved or not paved, it doesn't really matter. It's city property you're using for a patio, and I just didn't want to see one business owner have an unfair competitive advantage over other business owners," Boscariol said.

"You know, I thought, gee money for nothing and parks for free. That's the way to do it. "

DWBIA chair Virginia Vosco-Pizutti said if the bar had to pay the going rate of $5.50 a square foot the city would have made more money.

"If they would have leased it at the regular per square footage rate, the city would have been making … upwards of $30,000," she said.

But Sadler announced Thursday the proposal was off...

Sadler offered no reason for the change of heart he just said the administration had withdrawn the request.

The DWBIA is relieved, but councillor Alan Halberstadt, who originally received the proposal from the White Star owners, said they did have an attractive plan for the weed-infested park.

The owners of the White Star Lounge could not be reached for comment.