Published On: Wed, Jun 17th, 2020

Borough council announces new committee to aid reopening of New Hope businesses

(L to R) Mechanic Street Station owners TJ Clifford and Bari Buiso; Borough Council members Connie Gering, Laurie McHugh, Ken Maisel, and Dan Dougherty

New Hope Borough Council has formed a new committee to help local businesses sort out all the issues surrounding their phased reopening during the coronavirus emergency.

Committee members Laurie McHugh, Ken Maisel, and Council President Connie Gering hosted three virtual roundtables ahead of Bucks County’s advance into the yellow phase, which allowed for the limited reopening of many businesses. Merchants and restaurateurs voiced their concerns and suggestions for a smoother transition under Pennsylvania’s three-phase plan.

“The constraints of social distancing are a serious burden for the small boutiques, cozy cafes and boisterous night spots that are the heart of New Hope,” said Gering. “But the creative energy we heard from business owners and managers gives me confidence that we can get through this, and the reopening committee is focused exclusively on getting the job done.”

Restricted occupancy for retail businesses, along with outdoor-only restaurant service – two conditions under the yellow phase – are especially challenging for New Hope businesses, Gering pointed out. The committee is looking at parking changes, increased signage, restroom availability, and other measures the borough can undertake to help shops and restaurants get back on their feet.

“There’s going to be a lot of experimentation, a lot of give-and-take.” Gering said. “Should we dedicate curb space for take-out and pickup orders? Can we expand outdoor dining into the street without interfering with curbside pickup for nearby merchants? It’s going to take a lot of creativity to make the best of this.”

Not everyone on West Mechanic Street in New Hope loves the concept of making the block pedestrian-only on weekends.

One recent experiment — the closing of West Mechanic Street to vehicular traffic on weekends — has not been greeted with universal applause.

“I have owned my shop on Mechanic Street for the past 13 years, and I was not happy when I heard that they were closing the street for one restaurant that doesn’t even open until 5 p.m. and one bar that has their own entire outdoor drinking space, without even asking the shopkeepers on the street,” complained Meshell Kimbel, owner of God Save the Qweens at 13 W. Mechanic St. “When you close a street, especially with bright orange barricades and a ‘road closed’ sign, you can kiss business goodbye. Don’t make it any harder for us than it already is.”

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  1. mband2008@comcast.net' Melvin Band says:

    As I was reading Rob Staley’s comments about future generations the following thought came to mind. Wouldn’t it be terrific if future generation viewed the real Tom Wolf? How about erecting a statue in Gov. Tom Wolf’s memory with a human head and the body of a fish with the plaque stating, “When the fish stinks, it stinks from the head down.”

  2. siggeorge@gmail.com' George says:

    I have to laugh, the lady in the front row, I would be willing to wager, would be the first one to scream at you for not wearing a mask. And yet, there she is with it below her nose. So, that would make it what, 50% effective?

    • frolica@comcast.net' REGGIE says:

      Over 25 million and tested so far.These are the so called SPIKES by the Media but no a word about tens of thousands protesting(trigger words AVERT EYES NOW rioting,non peaceful,rioting)Your right George she would be the first to do Virtue Signaling and Pander
      and don’t do as I do!!!DO AS I SAY.

  3. Staleyfam@yahoo.com' Rob Staley says:

    You go Mel !! Wolf is a weakling and a follower (at best) and (at worst) corrupt with how he exempted his own business. Doesn’t have an ounce of leadership in his entire body. Future generations will marvel at the stupidity and gullibility of Wolf and his ilk.

  4. origin11@comcast.net' JaneAdele says:

    Council is right about one thing. “There’s going to be a lot of experimentation.” To begin with, the ROAD CLOSED signs are intimidating and are going to discourage visitors and shoppers from walking up Mechanic Street.

    SIGNAGE is crucial. Make the signs welcoming and friendly with notices that say that stores are open. Otherwise, it’s not fair to the retail businesses on Mechanic Street.

    Is the entire street going to be filled with tables and chairs, or just along the curbs?

  5. mband2008@comcast.net' Melvin Band says:

    There is an old expression that states, “WHEN THE FISH STINKS IT STINKS FROM THE HEAD DOWN.” And who is the head? it’s not the New Hope Borough Council. It’s not the mayor. The head is Gov. Wolf. That’s right, Gov. Wolf. The same Gov. Wolf that has seen to it that his “essential”business, making kitchen cabinets never closed.Yet the medical building being constructed next to Jamie Hollander had to be put on hold; The same Gov.Wolf that saw to it that even grave side funerals with a few people socially distanced could not take place; the same Gov. Wolf who holds press conferences without allowing followup questions that would challenge his first response.
    Small shop owners must ask themselves a very simple question. Is Gov. Wolf being overly cautious in allowing you to reopen your business? If you answer yes, then when you go to the polls in November, vote against his party up an down the line.The same people who goose step to his directives never challenging him.
    Being a lame duck, Gov. Wolf is untouchable, but the members of his party that are up for reelection are not. Remember it’s up to the governors not the president who are responsible to take care of business in their states. And when we look at the stats we see that an overwhelming number of democratic governors, not Republican governors who were too afraid to go to the Green Phase.

    • thasluprus@thraml.com' Sandra says:

      Well said, Melvin Band. I like you!

    • frolica@comcast.net' REGGIE says:

      Vote to secure our future.It does not take much to see who we should get rid of and who can put common sense back in the equation.NO MAIL IN BALLOTS.Melvin you are to be admired.We don’t see people clamoring to see a CHOP ZONES in Lambertville or New Hope or to take funds away from the Police.Pandering is not the way nor wringing hands.

    • origin11@comcast.net' JaneAdele says:

      I agree with Mel that rulings tend to be arbitrary – whether it is Gov. Wolf exempting his own kitchen cabinet company as “essential,” or our Borough Council not fairly enforcing the “No picnicking/no loitering” policy they had in place during the more restrictive phases (overlooking the violators at the Playhouse restaurants, but removing the benches from Fran’s Pub for health concerns.)

      And I might remind everyone that several of the most populated states that opened very early and with little restriction are now showing large spikes in COVID cases. And it’s not just because we are doing more testing. So, I support the overly-cautious governors who had a careful, structured plan in place for re-opening. I hope on Friday, that those who are anti-regulation will just think about those around them.

      Wear a mask, wash your hands, abide by the restaurant/bar regulations for distancing, and stop with the rallying cries of “Free New Hope.” COVID has no political party.

      The cases in the U.S. are rising, and PA has the chance to do the right thing by being careful.

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