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Council discusses Bridge House Coffee drive-up window

Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 11:10 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 11:12 a.m. CDT

Bridge House Coffee Co. owner Brock Patterson hoped to have his store opened with a drive-up window in time for his grand opening Saturday, but that did not happen.

City Administrator Robert Knabel told the Newton City Council about details and concerns regarding the window during Monday night’s council meeting.

“Mr. Patterson has opened a new coffee shop downtown, and we are glad for that, of course,” Knabel said. “The coffee shop was at one time the medicine shop, and they had a drive-up window that was part of their operation. As Mr. Patterson planned his work at this property for the coffee shop, he also planned to have a drive-up window. And in working with the Traffic Safety Committee and the city staff, he did modify the location of that back a little further so as to allow for the stacking of vehicles using the drive-up window to be really manifested in the alley versus it being out in the road. So he did work with the staff to modify that, but there were some issues that the Traffic Safety Committee looked at.”

One of those concerns was snow removal. Alleyways are not a high priority when it comes to snow removal, and Knabel said it may provide some issues for the coffee house’s customers, but Patterson was open to the possibility of working out something with the city.

Knabel said another concern was the narrowness of the alleyway. The width only allows for one vehicle to be in the alleyway at a time.

Another concern was pedestrian safety.

“We also had some concerns about vehicles pulling out of the alley, crossing the sidewalks and with someone looking with little visibility having some potential problems in that way as well,” Knabel said.

The council invited Patterson to speak about the matter, and he shared some of his thoughts.

“I would like to think most of my traffic would be between the hours of probably 6 and 8:30 in the morning,” Patterson said. “That is where I will see the highest volume. Most of the businesses uptown during those hours are closed, so it’s kind of a unique (feature). We would project that we would see between 40 and 60 vehicles.”

He asked the council to be given the same chance as other drive-up businesses in the city, and he pointed out that his drive-up window would free up parking spaces downtown.

Mayor Michael Hansen said he personally drove in the alleyway to experience firsthand what it would be like, and said it was possible. He even suggested the council let Patterson have a trial run.

Although the council seemed to be in full support of the drive-up window, a downtown property owner, Ken Smith, was opposed to the idea.

“It was a just a few years ago that we made — to what I thought was a similar but better appeal — for a drive-up at the other coffee house, and we were rejected out of hand,” Smith said. “Obviously the other coffee shop has been here for some time, and I am sure that those citizens as well would like to have equal consideration. We did have an alley closed on the side of our building without being (considered) or any motion or anything from the city council, but we had an alternative, and that was to stay closed. And that was the widest alley in the City of Newton.”

When he relocated the coffee shop he said he was told that it was “impossible.” At the time, he asked the council to make the alley one-way.

“I was told you couldn’t have a one-way street there, because if you had a one-way street, somebody may come up on the wrong way on the one-way and then be killed,” Smith said. “I kind of wondered how that meant that we wouldn’t be shutting down the interstate system because we have a one-way entrance ramp on all of those.”

Smith said he is asking the board for fair treatment.

The council also discussed the possibility of forming a task force that would discuss matters regarding the vicious dog ordinance, and changing the council meeting format to better accommodate the new attorney representing the city.

Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at mshepard@newtondailynews.com.

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