‘Parklet’ to replace parking spaces

(Gazette Photo by John Ruch) A “parklet” may go where two cars were parked last week on Seaverns Avenue near the Centre Street intersection.

CENTRAL JP—Jamaica Plain 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 first four pilot parklets will inform the city on the feasibility of wider parklet distribution throughout Boston next year.

“Primarily, we want the neighborhoods to appreciate them,” Boston Transportation Department (BTD) spokesperson Rachel Szakmary said at a Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) meeting last week.

The current plan would likely create a parklet on Seaverns Avenue, next to Purple Cactus and facing City Feed and Supply’s side entrance. The parklet would remain on site, occupying two 2-hour parking spaces, from March through November.

“It’s not certain, but it looks feasible” that JP’s first parklet will move into this space next spring, BTD Director of Planning Vineet Gupta told the Gazette last week. BTD is still investigating other possible sites along Centre Street.

Community support is the first goal of the new parklets, Gupta said. He added that there will “absolutely” be community involvement in the design of the parklet.

“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, Szakmary said.

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