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Outdoor Dining to Change in Hyannis; Barnstable Will Study Streetscape Options

Concrete barriers line Main Street in Hyannis.
Stephen Colella
Concrete barriers line Main Street in Hyannis.

Concrete barriers along Main Street in Hyannis that narrowed the street to create space for outdoor dining and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic are scheduled to be removed this week.

The town of Barnstable says the work will happen at night on Wednesday and Thursday.

Many people have embraced the way the barriers fostered a pedestrian atmosphere, but businesses have been divided over whether they help or hurt. Some businesses complained that the barriers blocked access to their stores or caused problems with deliveries and parking.

Elizabeth Wurfbain, executive director of the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District, said the town of Barnstable plans to study ways to make the area more inviting year-round, based on lessons from the pandemic.

“That's really what our plan has been all along, is [to] get to that space where we all come together and say, ‘Wait, we liked some of the aspects of the slowed-down traffic,’” she said.

Main Street was already a one-way street in that area, but the barriers reduced it from two lanes to one.

Wurfbain said she’s looking forward to changes that could come from a new planning process for Main Street.

“This is such an exciting moment,” she said.

She acknowledged that some people felt the arrangement of the barriers was unfair or problematic, but she said hopes a new plan will make things better.

“We want to get to a win-win situation,” she said.

In the meantime, outdoor dining will revert to spaces permitted before the pandemic.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.