ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The City of St Augustine is moving forward with plans to allow European-style, on-street dining downtown. Commissioners signed off on the concept Monday night but they still had questions about one local business owner’s plan to make it happen.
The plan involves revamping a short section of Cuna Street which is along one of the main roads in the nation’s oldest city, across from the Castillo de San Marcos. Right now, it is being used as a loading zone.
If the plan moves forward, it would allow:
- on-street dining, plus pedestrian, and non-motorized traffic
- alcoholic beverage consumption
- set closure times for Cuna Street
The commissioners voted to table the licensing agreement for now. At the meeting last night, some commissioner's like John Valdes in favor of the project.
"The city is in a state of change, things are moving and one of the things I see is more and more are European visitors," Valdes said.
John Arbizzani, the businessman behind the project also spoke at the meeting. He owns property at the corner of Cuna and Avenida Menendez streets. He has said he will pay 50% of the beautification costs for Cuna Street. The maximum would be $450,000
Arbizzani also said revenue will pay 100 % of street construction over a 10-year period. He’s agreed to include removable fencing and will restrict carry-out open containers, music and will improve lighting.
While all but one of the city’s commissioner’s voted in favor of the concept, some like Melinda Rakoncay who live near downtown are against the idea.
"The people who live here and pay taxes, especially who live downtown, are asking for an end to this nighttime drinking economy that goes on after 10:00. That's not what a small southern historic colonial town is supposed to be about," Rakoncay said.
The city commission is expected to take up the licensing agreement issue when they meet again next month.