On Monday, the Stillwater City Council met both in person and via video conference to discuss the ongoing threat of COVID-19 and other items on their agenda.
Early in the evening, the Council accepted funding from a federal grant to the Stillwater police department for the purpose of COVID-19 pandemic response.
Captain Kyle Gibbs of the police department said that the funding would go to preventative equipment such as multi-surface cleaning machines for jail cells and patrol vehicles as well as gas masks for officers operating in high risk areas.
Later in the evening, the Council revisited an ordinance that would allow bars and restaurants to create outdoor seating in street parking downtown. Lanc Gross, the Development Review Manager, presented to the Council several considerations for these so-called “streateries”.
In his presentation, Gross identified several concerns for the actual structures of the “streateries”, including their separation from street traffic, amenities, and maintenance. He also identified Washington street and Main street as the two most likely areas to benefit from the new ordinance.
Following the presentation, Councilmember Dzialowksi expressed concern that the construction of outdoor seating would take away parking spaces from retailers. Gross responded that the amount of space that each restaurant or bar can take must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Vice Mayor Darlington suggested that something could be worked out with parking garages close to the affected areas, such as the OSU parking garage next to the McKnight center.
Mayor Joyce and Councilmember Wedlake both expressed concerns about the longevity of the project and the permanence of the created structures.
Even with the stated concerns, Councilmember Dzialowski and Vice Mayor Darlington were excited to see the ordinance move forward.
The next item on the agenda was a COVID-19 update from Joyce. According to the mayor, the hospital recently talked with the State Epidemiologist about the progress of the pandemic in Payne County.
The positivity rate across Payne County is approaching 20%, and the virus is not contained to any specific part of the community, according to the mayor.
“The spread at this point is having a large impact on our school district’s ability to educate children,” Joyce said. “There’s no good way to spin the numbers in Payne County.”
The virus is spreading throughout the whole city, according to Joyce, not just young people. He said that Stillwater is composed mostly by people of the 18-35 age group, so the fact that that age group is catching COVID-19 in higher numbers does not mean that the spread is contained.
The mayor called for the cooperation of the whole community to work together to fight the spread of COVID-19.
The next public meeting of the Stillwater City Council is scheduled for Sept. 21, at 5:30 p.m. Meetings are held in the Council Hearing Room of the municipal building, and are also broadcast online.