Cross County Connection staff is continuing to work remotely. If you need assistance, you can contact us at (856)-596-8228 or email ccctma@driveless.com. Learn more about our services at www.driveless.com and view our Overview of Services Brochure.
Cross County Connection’s COVID-19 Newsletter Series 
Keeping Streets Active During Winter 
Colder weather is upon as fall moves into winter. With that, prospects of outdoor dining will dwindle across the state. However, even during the winter months, people may still want to enjoy outdoor dining during the pandemic. Because of this, some larger cities see this winter as an opportunity; both New York City and Boston have extended their outdoor dining programs. Keeping streets and outdoor dining open in smaller to mid-size towns is a great way to increase economic activity if capacity for indoor events are still low. However, this comes with many challenges, including snow removal and heating. South Jersey municipalities can take ideas from new and experienced cities for winter outdoor dining implementation. 

Municipalities should think about two main considerations – 
  1. Permitting/right-of-way requirements
  2. Management and design and placemaking strategies to entice residents to visit main street/outdoor dining in the winter

Both considerations play an important role in keeping economic activity up through the winter. Cities and Municipalities have taken note. There are examples of best practices for both considerations, some close to home.

Permitting/Right-of-Way Requirements and Management 
For colder regions, activating streets during the winter months will require tents and heaters. Most of these amenities require permits from local government. Some businesses may not realize they are needed and fail to obtain proper permits. Because of this, municipal guidance is imperative for creating a smooth transition to outdoor dining during the winter. The City of Philadelphia recently released outdoor dining winterization guidelines to help local businesses through any permitting and management required by the city. The guidance includes information on shelter and heating options, along with specific rules about proper locations and permitting requirements for tents and heating devices.
Examples of Winterization Shelter Options from Philadelphia’s Outdoor Dining Guidelines 
Philadelphia’s transparent and flexible winterization guidelines is a great example of developing a program that incentivizes street activity through the winter that allows restaurants to maintain some level of business. Several South Jersey municipalities, including Haddonfield, Wildwood and Medford, adopted programs to allow for increased dining space during the spring and summer months. These municipalities could take inspiration from local New Jersey examples on how to extend efforts assistance going into the winter;   winter;  both The Metuchen Downtown Alliance and Bloomfield Center Alliance purchased and provided patio heaters to local restaurants to help extend their existing outdoor dining programs.
An Example Diagram From New York City’s Open Storefront Program  
In addition to restaurants, small retail establishments have also experienced a slow-down in business due to the pandemic. Like outdoor dining strategies, some cities established programs to allow storefronts to go outdoors. New York City’s Open Storefronts program provides siting guidance for Outdoor Storefront Activity Zones, presenting the opportunity for small businesses to generate outdoor foot traffic and sales. As with Philadelphia’s outdoor dining guidance, New York City’s clear and concise instructions, which include diagrams, can help small businesses avoid zoning and permitting issues. Identifying and presenting the proper design and permitting information can help ease the difficulty of continuing outdoor activities for local businesses and restaurants in South Jersey.  

Design and Placemaking Strategies
 Ordinary outdoor seating alone may not be enough to attract sustainable economic activity as winter drags on. Local municipalities and business districts can promote their main streets as a safe, socially distanced, outdoor destination, through creative placemaking and design. Cities have called for ideas to drive activity in their respective downtowns.  

Chicago’s Winter Dining Challenge is a great example of placemaking and design strategies for the upcoming winter season. The ideas presented range from prefabricated cabins that fit within the dimensions of a parking space to dining ticket programs that incentive residents to dine at restaurants in order to win prizes. All of the examples in the Winter Dining Challenge are COVID compliant. For example, the prefabricated cabin idea limits guests to one party per cabin. This provides an attractive environment should municipalities decide to limit dining parties to individuals from the same household, as  Philadelphia has chosen to do. Additionally, streetscaping improvements such as increased lighting and holiday decorations can attract people to local downtowns as well. 

Placemaking will also have the benefit of creating a welcoming and active pedestrian environment. Residents and visitors alike will want to go out and visit these destinations as more space is dedicated to pedestrians. This, in turn, can help lift spirits and improve quality of life as more people are spending time outdoors in the vibrant and attractive places that local municipalities are creating. The repurposed space can also help build community strength and help residents envision what their streets could look like after the pandemic is over, if some the placemaking and design practices are things they would like to see implemented long-term.  

The upcoming winter could be very tough on South Jersey’s downtowns. Municipalities can help their local businesses excel now and in the future by implementing clear guidelines and placemaking during the pandemic. These strategies could help incentive people to explore their downtown on colder days and increase street activity during the warmer days in the coming months. 
 
Local Transportation News
SJTPO Hosting a Regional Transportation Plan 2050 Virtual Public Meeting for Spanish Speakers  
The South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO) is hosting a Virtual Public Meetings on Wednesday, December 9th at 6:00 PM seeking feedback from the Spanish speaking community as it prepares the Regional Transportation Plan 2050. The plan will guide the transportation future for Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem Counties.  Whether you own a personal vehicle, use a ride hailing service, walk, bike, or take public transit, you rely on the transportation network to get you to your destination, safely and conveniently. South Jersey’s transportation network includes so many things that are critical to our daily lives. Supporting that network requires maintenance of roadways, building and maintaining sidewalks and trails, operating and maintaining busses and trains, and more. Community feedback on South Jersey’s transportation network is critical! 
 
Please share this flyer with those who may be inserted in attending or they can visit www.sjtpo.org/rtp for more information. 


Ronda R. Urkowitz P.P., AICP
Executive Director
(856) 596-8228



Patrick C. Farley, AICP, PP
Program Director
(856) 596-8228 


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Cross County Connection's Mission: To improve the quality of
life in southern New Jersey through transportation solutions.
 
Cross County Connection is the designated Transportation Management Association (TMA) for the seven-county southern New Jersey region: Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem. Cross County Connection assists local governments, schools, businesses, social service organizations, residents and employees with mobility needs by fostering the implementation and use of sustainable transportation modes.
This Cross County Connection Transportation Management Association publication is funded by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. The U.S. Government and NJTPA assume no liability for the contents.