City outdoor eating park gets makeover

Volunteers paint picnic tables for a new outdoor eating area in downtown Whitewater open through Oct. 31.

Ben Yang, Journalist

The recently-opened outdoor eating park in downtown Whitewater received a makeover by community members and organizations who came together to paint picnic tables in the area Friday, Aug. 21. Participants who aided in painting the picnic tables include the Whitewater Area Chamber of Commerce, the Whitewater Art Alliance, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater students, and more.

“We encourage the entire community to come and sit awhile. Take in the surroundings and the new perspective outdoor seating provides. To engage all ages, there is chalk available to use on the road. Many people have already engaged the space by leaving their respectful artwork behind,” said Cathy Anderson, Economic Development Director for the City of Whitewater.

With painting equipment provided by Jake Leiser Painting, volunteers strive to attract more community members and students to utilize the space for dining outdoors while also maintaining social distancing from one another.

“Some people will do artistic designs, but some of the people who are donating their time have different companies and small businesses, so they will also include their company’s name and logo. It’ll be interesting to see what everybody chooses to do,” said business outreach manager Kristen Burton of the College of Business and Economics.

Studio 84, a local art studio and contributor in painting the picnic tables for the outdoor eating park, will utilize this opportunity for their students to express their artistic talents.

“Studio 84 is a studio that provides instruction to students with disabilities and they are going to be painting a couple of the tables over the course of a few days so that multiple artists can work on it,” said Burton.

This space will work similarly like other parks in the area in which visitors are expected to follow local park rules and clean up their area after utilizing the park. Visitors are also expected to continue practicing social distancing while using the outdoor eating park.

“The area’s 18 picnic tables, plants and chalk are there to encourage people to use the space. Volunteers painted the picnic tables in an effort to visually improve the area and make it more inviting,” said Chris Munz-Pritchard, the city of Whitewater Neighborhood Services Director.

The outdoor eating park opened in late June and will remain open until Oct. 31 from 6 a.m. to midnight. Picnic tables within the park are spread out to follow COVID-19 conduct guidelines, remaining six feet away from other tables.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic affecting many local businesses and restaurants, the city wants to assist in making a safe environment for additional seating. While many restaurants are continuing their focus on carry out and delivery orders to keep business alive, some have opened their doors and are slowly allowing patrons to enjoy a sit-down meal. This space was created to help the local restaurants in and around the downtown area,” said Munz-Pritchard.