SHERIDAN — The Downtown Sheridan Association will partner with the city of Sheridan this summer on a program aimed at promoting downtown businesses through the use of a parklet — a portable sidewalk extension that businesses can use for outdoor seating or displays.
The program — which the DSA is calling the Curb’d pilot program — will let various businesses host the parklet throughout the summer; five have signed up so far, DSA’s Executive Director Zoila Perry said.
“We want to be able to show people that we can drive more people downtown,” Perry said.
In December, the city accepted the Downtown Sheridan Streetscape Action Plan, which contained several different strategies the city could use to enhance its downtown. As more and more shoppers moved online, the consultants who prepared the report wrote that Sheridan will need to focus on creating experiences and gathering places to keep its downtown active and vibrant.
The plan recommended several strategies the city could consider implementing, including using parklets to create more gathering places.
While parklets have rarely, if ever, been used in Wyoming, Perry said that communities around the country have successfully used them to bolster their businesses.
“Parklets in other communities have led to community and economic development — they just drive more people downtown,” Perry said.
The city debuted the parklet in September and Perry admitted the initial public response was tepid. With that in mind, the DSA spent the winter working with the city to redesign the parklet and develop a program to measure the impact it can have on downtown businesses.
“Last year, when we rolled it out, people didn’t know what it was. Now we’re educating them first,” Perry said. “We also took their feedback and made the parklet better…We’re getting more positive momentum on it this time around.”
To gauge its impact, Perry said the DSA will document each businesses sales without the parklet — the week before and the week after a business hosts the parklet — and track whether sales increase during the weeks the businesses have the parklet.
Luminous Brewhouse had the first chance to host the parklet starting May 24, Luminous Owner Cooley Butler said.
“People have really enjoyed it. It’s been a nice addition for us,” Butler said. “When it’s warm, people are really inclined to be outside if they have the option.”
Butler said he does not know whether the parklet has attracted more customers over the past couple of weeks — noting that the weather hasn’t always been ideal — but that it has encouraged customers to stay longer.
“It’s worked especially well when we have food trucks here,” Butler said.
The city currently only has one parklet, but city staff has discussed building more. Perry said if the Curb’d program goes well this summer, the DSA will consider holding a design contest for the construction of another parklet.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation decided the current parklet is too big to safely fit in Main Street’s parking spots, so this summer it will be limited to side streets, but the city has discussed making the next parklet smaller for Main Street use.