Milwaukee's 'Active Streets' program extended through winter; applications now available

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- "Active Streets," a program giving Milwaukee restaurants and bars more flexibility to offer services outside, is being extended through the winter. Applications are now available. 

The program had been scheduled to end on Nov. 15, but will now be extended through March 15, 2021.

“Since the beginning of this program, we have been working with businesses throughout the City of Milwaukee to ensure they can serve their customers in a manner that is both safe and enjoyable for patrons. And we heard overwhelmingly from the business community the desire to continue expanded outdoor seating even through the winter months,” said Mayor Tom Barrett adding the no-fee, city-wide program has proven popular with 42 bars and restaurants currently participating in the program.

“When we were asked to get feedback from our bars and restaurants about the Active Streets for Business program to give input on its possible extension, the resounding sentiment from bar and restaurant owners was that no one could have made it through the summer without that program. Given consumer preferences, I don't think the need will change much in winter. We're so grateful that the City and DPW are open-minded and forward-thinking to make this happen for our local businesses,” said Elizabeth Brodek, executive director of the East Side Business Improvement District.

For the winter extension, DPW again consulted with the business community to balance the needs of those businesses and public at large while following the Milwaukee Health Department’s guidelines in Moving Milwaukee Forward.

“In addition to public health assurances, we wanted to ensure outdoor dining remains safe for both the business customers and the traveling public given the winter also has snow and decreased visibility during those months,” said Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Polenske.

The program’s revised guidelines include allowances for tenting and heating.

  • Temporary outdoor structures (tenting)
  • Must have 50% total wall space open to allow air flow
  • Must be fire resistant
  • Must be weighted, anchored or secured without damaging the public way
  • Heating Devices
  • Electrical devices must be installed/approved by a licensed electrical contractor
  • Heating devices (gas or electric) must be away from combustible materials
  • Cords or materials should not create tripping hazards or violate ADA guidelines
  • Snow and Ice Control
  • Businesses will need inclement weather plans submitted for snow and ice removal
  • Businesses are responsible for clearing near their outdoor space(s)
  • Businesses on closed streets are responsible for clearing behind those barricades

Current participants in the Active Streets for Businesses will still need to apply for a winter extension and adhere to the revised guidelines.

The application and full guidelines can be found HERE

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