One-day parklet to take new form

September 7, 2012
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By Rebeca Oliveira and John Ruch/Gazette Staff

A City-sponsored one-day trial of an upcoming parklet on Tremont Street will not take place next month, but community members will be encouraged to claim parking spaces as temporary parks on their own on Sept. 21.

Mike’s Donuts owner and potential parklet neighbor Maria Weinograd is still unsure of the transparency of the project and has requested a meeting with the Boston Transportation Department (BTD), which has not taken place.

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.

BTD spokesperson Rachel Szakmary told the Gazette last week that BTD is not organizing any one-day trials for Park(ing) Day on Sept. 21. She had previously said during a meeting to discuss the parklet program that a one-day trial would take place.

Sept. 21 observes “Park(ing) Day”, an international movement to reclaim parking spaces as temporary public parks for a day. Parklets began as guerrilla parks in San Francisco, where community members created temporary parks from lawn furniture, towels, planters, umbrellas and similar equipment.

It is unclear exactly what the Sept. 21 event in Mission Hill will look like. BTD officials will be in attendance, Szakmary said.

“We’re encouraging people to be involved, [but] BTD isn’t organizing anything specific,” Szakmary said.

The long-term plan will create a parklet in front of Lilly’s Gourmet Pasta Express at 1528 Tremont St. next year. The parklet would remain on site, occupying two 2-hour parking spaces, from March through November.

Weinograd, meanwhile, is still concerned about the project’s lack of details and BTD’s poor communication as well as the parklet’s potential impact on her business.

“The parklet sounds wonderful. [But] am I included?,” she said. “I don’t want to be an orphan.”

Weinograd said she is concerned that “nobody seems to be giving straight talk” about the plan. She has asked BTD to meet with her and look at the parklet site, which hasn’t happened. She was offered a conference call with some officials instead.

Four pilot parklets will be installed in the spring at the City’s expense in four neighborhoods, to the tune of $48,000. If they are well-received and the program expands, future parklets will be a joint effort between the City and business owners, as the Gazette has previously reported.

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