Commission cool to funding ‘parklets’ concept
By Dennis Nartker | KPC News - The News Sun
Is the city’s Redevelopment Commission prepared to financially support the installation of a concept known as “parklets” in the downtown business district?
“Maybe” is the operative word at this point.
Wednesday morning, commissioners discussed the parklets proposal, which led to questions about liability, ownership, public safety and the loss of parking spaces, which aren’t really concerns for this group that supports downtown improvements with downtown tax increment financing district revenue.
The commission’s concern is funding the project. If the commission decides to support the project, a new parklet fund should be created that’s separate from the facade grant fund, said commission President Ray Scott.
The $60,000 the commission allocates each year for matching facade grants should only be used for those grants, he added.
Commissioner Lance Harman questioned if the RDC has enough money to support parklets. “We’re thin now,” he said.
The commission has committed $300,000 of downtown TIF revenue to a proposed Main Street streetscape project.
Members of the Activate Noble County committee proposed parklets at a town hall meeting last month.
A parklet is a sidewalk extension into parking spaces along the street that provides amenities for people using the street. It’s a place to stop, sit and rest while taking in activities on the street, while also serving as a place for greenery, art and visual elements.
A parklet would take up one to three parking spaces. The base platform would come up to the sidewalk level. Umbrellas could provide shade. Seating could included benches or chairs next to tables.
Parklets are relatively inexpensive and can be temporarily installed during the spring, summer and fall. They would revert to parking spaces for the winter months.
Those supporting parklets suggested a public-private trial project. The Board of Public Works would regulate and establish guidelines and approve applications. Sponsors would pay for the parklets, and oversee construction and maintenance.
Financing could come from private donations, grants and downtown business contributions, according to supporters.
“There needs to be a lot of discussion about this before going forward,” Kendallville Clerk-Treasurer Sheryl Hanes told commissioners.
The RDC took no action on funding the parklets.