By Emily Resnevic/Gazette Staff
Mission Hill’s “parklet,” a small sidewalk park with tables and chairs, debuted on Sept. 12 in front of Mike’s Donuts and Lily’s Pasta Express at 1524-1528 Tremont St.
It is one of the city’s first two parklets created by the Boston Transportation Department (BTD). The other one is in Jamaica Plain.
Parklets are semi-permanent patios that temporarily replace two parking spaces on the street. The parklet will remain until mid-November and then be rebuilt in mid-April of next year.
Parklets originated in San Francisco in 2005 when ReBar, an art studio, launched its own parklet for just two hours at a metered parking spot.
“A parklet is essentially an extension of the sidewalk,” said Vineet Gupta, BTD’s policy and planning division director. “In the community process [for approval], the design was a big topic of discussion, and everyone was really looking for space to sit and make more extensions of sidewalks.”
The community has raised concerns about these parklets in regarding the loss of parking, safety and funding. Gupta responded that while parking does seem to be a problem, the blocks between Brigham Circle and Roxbury Crossing tend to foster many more walking commuters than drivers. He said that the parklet will be helpful to local businesses, as much of their business comes from walk-ins and the parklet provides a pleasant place to rest.
“Neighborhoods like Mission Hill, the South End and Fenway are good areas to walk in,” Gupta said. “Parklets also encourage people to make friends and mingle amongst their community.”
In the case of an emergency, the parklets have been designed so they can be easily removed.
The BTD has financed the pilot year of parklets with seed money from City funds, and they can each cost anywhere between $8,000 and $20,000. In the future, BTD hopes that local businesses will invest in the cost of the parklet. The current parklets have a public-private agreement where the businesses that the parklet borders are required to maintain them.
The BTD is currently working with businesses in Allston and Brighton to install parklets in those neighborhoods as well.