City discusses potential for parklets

Citizens, business owners and city councilors discussed the possibility of installing parklets in downtown Cottage Grove Monday night during a city council meeting.

Parklets are extensions of sidewalks into parking spaces and provide a small space for people to dine or relax, often outside dining or retail establishments.

Civil Engineer Ryan Sisson delivered an informational presentation on parklets and sought community and city council feedback on whether to move forward with the project.

Local businesses the Axe & Fiddle and Jack Sprats were pointed to as potential sites for parklets as both businesses feature outside seating on the sidewalk.

“One of our goals here is to maximize the pedestrian route through the sidewalk,” said Sisson.

During feedback, citizens, downtown business owners and councilors expressed high interest in the idea, citing the aesthetic appeal and potential for tourism.

“I believe it would make our downtown more attractive and inviting for people visiting Cottage Grove,” said downtown business owner Bart Caridio.

Owner of Jack Sprats Chloe Beckes expressed her support for the idea.

“Our seating outside is real limited as it is,” she said. “This would give us an opportunity to have seating that is not in people’s way.”

Councilor Candace Solesbee commented on the success of other cities’ implementation of parklets in her support of the downtown additions.

“One restaurant that I read about reported a 20 percent increase in their business soon after doing it, which means hiring more people, which means more jobs for our community,” she said. “I’m a believer that people attract people.”

Concerns about the safety of the parklets and parking limitations were raised as well.

“I do want to be supportive,” said Councilor Mike Fleck. “But I have two competing concerns. Liability is a real concern of mine … and another piece I’m concerned about is our current Downtown Refinement Plan is actually designed to narrow the street. And then we’re going to have these further narrowing the street.”

Solesbee felt the city could adapt refinement plans to any new downtown installments and stressed the added benefit of tourism.

“I think we need to encourage our visitors to linger,” she said. “And if you make that outside area, it will make them stay a little longer. And it’s not just the restaurants that would benefit. They would shop.”

Councilor Kenneth Roberts stated that he had heard concerns about safety from community members as well.

“I’m worried about the liability issues,” he said. “I’m all for more business and supporting our businesses downtown … so I think there’s a lot to be discussed on this.”

Mayor Jeff Gowing spoke to concerns raised about parking availability.

“There are 670 public parking spots between Gibbs and Washington,” he said. “So I support this 100 percent.”

In other city council news:

“One Sunny Day of Peace” Proclamation

Mayor Gowing proclaimed Feb. 17, 2020 as “One Sunny Day of Peace” in recognition of the upcoming 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima this August. The day will be marked by the planting of a gingko biloba sapling which was grown from the seed of a tree which survived the atomic blast in Hiroshima. 

The One Sunny Day Initiative, founded by survivor of Hiroshima’s atomic bombing Hideo Tamura Snider, partnered in 2017 with Green Legacy Hiroshima to germinate seeds from the surviving trees and plant them on public lands to create a living connection to the atomic bombing events.

The mayor invited residents to become familiar with the history of the atomic bombing, recognize the work of its survivors and attend the ceremonial planting of the Hiroshima Peace Tree at Coiner Park at 11 a.m.


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