Mission Hill residents voted to support one of the city’s first “parklets” coming to the Hill in a Boston Transportation Department (BTD)-organized meeting last month. A one-day trial may be scheduled for September, followed by a long-term installation next spring.
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.
Community support is the first goal of the new parklets, BTD Director of Planning Vineet Gupta told the Gazette. He added that there will “absolutely” be community involvement in the design of the parklet.
A community design advisory meeting will be scheduled after a designer is selected sometime this fall, Gupta said. If the one-day trial does happen, it is unclear how the community would advise the design of the parklet.
Attendees at the BTD meeting took a vote, and voted to support the parklet coming to Mission Hill by a 12 to 1 tally. Mike’s Doughnuts owner Maria Weinograd was the lone vote against, expressing concern over the parklet’s possibly interfering with ambulance traffic on Tremont Street.
The Community Alliance of Mission Hill hasn’t addressed parklets yet, but President Jessica Casey told the Gazette it will do so by the spring.
BTD spokesperson Rachel Szakmary said at the meeting that a one-day trial on Sept. 21 would take place. Sept. 21 observes “Park(ing) Day”, an international movement to reclaim parking spaces as temporary public parks for a day.
Gupta later told the Gazette the decision to hold the one-day trial hadn’t been made. A follow-up call was not returned.
“It’s a good thing to allow people to experiment. If there are a lot of problems, get rid of it,” Michel Soltani, owner of Mission Bar & Grill, said.
The first four pilot parklets will inform the City on the feasibility of wider parklet distribution throughout Boston in 2014.
“We’re launching in locations where people want them and where they will be successful,” Szakmary said at the meeting.
The current plan will create a parklet in front of Lilly’s Gourmet Pasta Express at 1528 Tremont St. The parklet would remain on site, occupying two 2-hour parking spaces, from March through November.
“It would only be more of an incentive for people to hang out on the hill,” Matt Postal, owner of Lilly’s, said at the meeting.
The four pilot parklets will be installed at the City’s expense, to the tune of $48,000, Gupta said. 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.
Likewise, the neighboring businesses will be responsible for the parklet’s maintenance, creating a sense of ownership and ensuring use, Gupta said. The City and business owners will be jointly liable for the site, though exactly how liability will be shared will be determined in individual agreements, Szakmary said.
Parklets have been well-received in San Francisco, New York City, Vancouver and other cities, Szakmary said.