SHERIDAN — The city deployed its first parklet, a portable sidewalk-extension placed in a parking stall, over the weekend in one of its first efforts to experiment with place-making strategies downtown.
“This is really the first physical manifestation of the streetscape project,” said Community Development Director Brian Craig.
The parklet, which debuted during September’s Third Thursday and is currently on West Brundage Street, in front of The Union at Montgomery, is one of the place-making strategies the city is considering through the streetscape project to attract more pedestrians downtown. Kristi Von Krosigk, the owner of The Union at Montgomery, said though it’s early, she has already noticed an increase in foot traffic since the parklet has been deployed.
“Already people are finding it to be a natural gathering spot,” Von Krosigk said.
The current parklet will likely remain on West Brundage Street for the next two to three weeks. Because winter is fast approaching, it will likely go into storage after that.
Over the winter, the city will work with downtown businesses to put together a schedule for when and where the city will deploy parklets next spring.
The parklet measures 8-by-20 feet, which Craig said makes it slightly too wide to be placed on Main Street. Pending permission from the Wyoming Department of Transportation, the city would like to build at least one more slightly smaller parklet over the winter for use on Main Street; Craig said the city would eventually like to have three in total. The city is considering letting the design and construction of additional parklets be determined by a design contest, but Craig said community interest will decide whether the city moves forward with that plan.
Craig said construction of the parklet, which the city contracted local carpenter Robert Ratty to work on, cost about $2,000 in total, which he called a “low-cost” build. How the city will fund future parklets is not clear yet, because the city does not plan on collecting revenue when it rents them out. Craig mentioned that if there is enough interest in certain areas of the downtown, a row of businesses could contribute to the construction of new parklets. The Wyoming Business Council also offers “placemaking” grants that Craig said the city could use to purchase materials for future parklets.
Craig also noted that a business, or group of businesses, could theoretically build their own parklet, but it would need to secure a temporary street-closure permit from the city in order to use it. The city likely will not look to build more than three, regardless of the response.
“We know we don’t want to pepper the streets with them and get too many,” Craig said.
Next spring, the city will also likely look to test similar ideas throughout downtown. In particular, Craig said the city wants to experiment with some of the streetscape proposals for Grinnell Plaza, which have ranged from installing more seating and other sidewalk amenities to closing the plaza to traffic and converting it into a full-time gathering space.
Craig said the city was eager to hear feedback on the parklet and encouraged residents to email him at email@example.com with comments.