Stillwater moves quickly to help restaurants and bars legally expand patio space

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With more coronavirus restrictions being eased on June 1 in Minnesota, Stillwater is taking action to help its local businesses.

Stillwater Mayor Ted Kozlowski told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the city is taking creative and aggressive steps to help bars and restaurants expand their patio areas while still complying with safety orders issued by Gov. Tim Walz.

"We need to do this to save our town and it is all hands on deck right now," Kozlowski said. "Most of downtown Stillwater does not have patio space and we need to get it done so they are ready June 1."

Kozlowski said the city plans to close portions of Myrtle and Water streets and allow businesses to use parking lots, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation approved a city request to give businesses the option of extending temporary patios onto the parking spaces on Main Street, which is a state highway.

"This will give those restaurants and bars a chance to get some much-needed revenue," Kozlowski said. "Main Street and downtown are fragile, and we need to protect them or we risk losing the entire downtown."

Kozlowski said the city council is expected to approve these changes at an emergency meeting May 27.