‘Parklet’ to replace parking spaces

July 13, 2012

Mission Hill will get one of the city’s first “parklets” next year in a new pilot program.

A parklet is a small, semi-permanent public space that resembles a deck, created from two to three parking spaces. It may include tables and chairs, bicycle parking or planters, among other options.

The current plan likely would create a parklet next spring at 1528 Tremont St., adjacent to Lilly’s Gourmet Pasta Express. The parklet would remain on site, occupying two parking spaces, from March through November.

The first four pilot parklets will inform the city on the feasibility of wider parklet distribution throughout Boston next year.

“Our first criteria is that they have community support,” Boston Transportation Department (BTD) Director of Planning Vineet Gupta told the Gazette.

A Community Alliance of Mission Hill email announced a community meeting planned to discuss the parklet for July 10, after the Gazette’s deadline.

BTD is planning a community process to assess the location’s feasibility and to make sure the community supports the parklet, Gupta said.

“We want to locate these only in locations that have large community support,” Gupta said. “The design will be reviewed not only by those abutting the parklet, but also by the community at large in that particular neighborhood.”

The pilot parklets will be installed at the City’s expense, Gupta said. If they are well-received and the program expands, future parklets will be a joint effort between the City and business owners.

“We would expect the business owners to pick up a significant share of the installation cost,” Gupta said. How significant a contribution has not yet been decided, he said.

Likewise, the neighboring businesses will be responsible for the parklet’s maintenance, creating a sense of ownership and ensuring use, Gupta said.

As for potential undesired use by homeless people or drug abusers, Gupta is counting on the community to keep its eyes open.

“The more the parklet is used, the less chance of it being occupied by undesirable activities,” Gupta said. “We’re confident that the location and the neighborhood involvement will help in keeping them clean.”

Parklets have been well-received in San Francisco, New York City, Vancouver and other cities, BTD spokesperson Rachel Szakmary said last month.