Editorial: Parklets need transparency, not retreat

May 2, 2014
By

Regarding Mission Hill’s parklet vanishing amid “conflict” and “controversy”: We told you so.

As we repeatedly said during the parklet’s planning, a fully transparent process—including cost details and public input on locations—is not only government’s basic duty, but the only way to garner the wisdom and consensus necessary for the program to succeed.

Instead, the City insisted upon a deliberately limited, secretive plan that amounted to peer-pressuring one unwilling business into co-hosting the parklet. Who can be surprised that isn’t working out?

Blaming “controversy” is the City’s passive-aggressive admission of its own failure in both duty and common sense.

And now the City is compounding its sin by with more secret decision-making—possibly including totally abandoning Mission Hill and putting the parklet somewhere in Roslindale instead. That is unfair to both neighborhoods and to the other co-hosting business, Lilly’s Gourmet Pasta, for which the parklet apparently was a success.

The parklet is part of a pilot program. From the City’s warped perspective, that somehow excused every lack of sensible input on the front end, and now justifies reactionary reshuffles on the back end. Its flavor is closer to PR stunt than pilot program.

A pilot program should be a rational experiment with quality input and clearly, calmly analyzed outcomes. At this point, we can say parklets obviously work for some businesses in some locations. The only total failure was in the City’s input process.

The owner of Lilly’s is gathering hundreds of signatures on a pro-parklet petition. Why couldn’t the City get that kind of engagement and input in the first place—or now?

We told you so, and we’ll keep telling you until the City holds such a process to see what actually works where in Mission Hill and any other neighborhood. And either way, the City should assist Lilly’s Pasta in retaining some form of sidewalk seating if at all feasible.

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