WATERLOO — A once-troubled downtown block will be given a chance to showcase its resurgence.
City Council members voted unanimously Monday to approve a request by Main Street Waterloo to barricade West Fourth Street between Washington to Jefferson streets for use as a beer garden and pedestrian area each Saturday in August and September.
“I’m glad we’re giving the spotlight to the west side as well,” said Councilwoman Sharon Juon, noting many of the outdoor events like Friday’Loo and Irish Fest are on the downtown’s east side.
“I remember some of the bad history of that block as well,” she said. “This hopefully will provide all of you a great opportunity to show all of us old people that you’ve turned things around and that you’ve got some positive energy going.”
Main Street Waterloo Executive Director Jessica Rucker said the plan is to close the street from noon Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday morning, which will allow patrons of the many bars and restaurants in the block to mingle in the street, play games and enjoy possible food trucks and live entertainment.
Police Chief Dan Trelka said his department initially opposed the length of time the street would be closed and preferred an 11 p.m. ending time.
“We’re to a point now where we’re neutral on this request,” Trelka said. “Whatever the council decides we will ensure that we will do whatever we can.”
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John Hayes, who owns The Broken Record, was one of several bar owners who showed up to support the request, which includes a variance to the noise ordinance and approval to put picnic tables in the street.
“We don’t want to give the impression that it’s going to be keg stands and just this great debacle going on throughout the night,” Hayes said. “It’s a very diverse block, so we want everybody to be able to communicate with each other.”
Hayes noted police calls to that block, which were frequent a decade ago, have dwindled to next to nothing today.
Bud Jones opened Behar Bar in the block two months ago and was excited about the plans for the Saturday events.
“I think this street closure thing is going to be really great to bring people back from (Cedar Falls) back to Waterloo,” Jones said.
Main Street Waterloo is adding the event to its insurance policy. All alcohol sales would still take place in the individuals establishments on the block.