Moody Closure Extended to Dec. 1

Published by Chris Wangler- September 24, 2020.

Some downtown restaurants got a boost Thursday when the city’s traffic commission voted to extend the Moody Street closure until December 1.
The closure from Pine to High Streets was set to end on November 1.
During the commission’s Zoom meeting, Moody restaurant owners said the extension would give them a fighting chance, but other small businesses said that less parking near their storefronts has meant less business.
Gio of Los Compadres barbershop at 314A Moody. Like some other small business owners, he said the Moody Street closure removed parking spaces in front of his business, sending customers elsewhere. "In the winter, it's gonna get worse," he said.
 
The mayor’s al fresco dining experiment was a success this summer, becoming a model for other cities. But restaurant owners now face uncertainty heading into fall and winter, typically the busy times.
Diners are still reluctant to eat indoors during the pandemic, so the removal of preferred outdoor seats during winter weather could be a major blow.
But cool-weather outdoor dining is emerging as an interesting possibility.
“This past weekend was our coldest yet―and our busiest,” said Erin Barnicle of Tempo. Other owners said the chilly scene could become a thing, drawing people from other cities to check it out.
“Give it a try and see what happens,” said Jeff Abellard, the owner of Bistro 781.
A number of details need to be ironed out. Propane heaters for outdoor dining require permits, cannot be used under tents and must be stored in outdoor cages, said WFD Chief Tom MacInnis.
But the biggest X factor is the weather. In the coming months, public works officials will have to determine how to plow a closed-down Moody Street in the event of snow.
Not everyone wants the closure to be extended. Of the 85 businesses on the closed-down section of Moody, only 23 are restaurants, according to Waltham traffic engineer Mike Garvin.
Speaking on behalf of his tenants, Moody Street landlord Meyer Dana said the closure has “had a deleterious effect on other businesses.”
Sixty parking spots near Moody storefronts have been removed, and owners said the lack of parking has sent business elsewhere.
So what will happen in 2021? Waltham Police chief Keith MacPherson said the commission should hear from all Moody Street stakeholders before making a decision about the future of the Moody Street closure.
File photos