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Think 'Parklets' Would be Embraced in Old Town?

In Fairfax, town officials are looking into turning a parallel parking space into a public space with seating and giving it a temporary try for six months to a year. Do you like the concept of a parklet for Novato?

Fairfax officials are looking into experimenting with a parklet, a small urban park in the space of a parallel parking spot in the downtown area.

Would that be welcomed in the Old Town section of Novato?

Parklets, which are becoming increasingly common in San Francisco and other cities, include seating and sometimes planter-box vegetation, bicycle parking or tables.

“Parklets take a parking space and make public space,” Jim Moore, Fairfax Director of Planning, told the Fairfax Town Council at its Nov. 7 meeting. 

Town officials will work with Fairfax business to determine the exact placement of the parklet and to see if any want to sponsor it or help with the design or implementation.

“We are hoping to get a collaborative relationship from sponsors and to reach out to businesses so there are no feathers ruffled,” Moore said.

In Novato, there has been mixed reaction over the past few years since trees were planted in selected diagonal parking spaces along Grant Avenue. Some people like the aesthetic value of the streetscape makeover, and others have complained that the trees have taken away spots for potential shoppers.

According to the San Francisco Pavement to Parks parklet permit in the attached staff report, parklets are “intended to provide space for people to sit and relax and enjoy the city around them, especially where narrow sidewalks would otherwise preclude such activities. They are intended to be seen as a piece of street furniture, providing aesthetic enhancement to the overall streetscape.”

Some cities that have experimented with parklets have said they attract more foot traffic, leading to a boost in commerce. Another idea being bounced around: shutting down vehicular traffic on Grant once in a while to open it up to pedestrians. Anybody else have ideas that might spark revenue for Old Town businesses?

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Gail Wilhelm November 18, 2012 at 09:05 PM
$15,000,000 for improvements to Grant Ave. is not enough? Now you begrudge $15,000,000 for desparately needed new city offices on city own property? If the downtown merchants want to tax themselves to pay for a parking structure, I'm all for it. It not, then just be happy that if city successfuly negotiates with SMART for the depot there will be 101 new parking slots to serve East Grant Ave. So tired of the whining and selfishness of some of the commentary here.
Tina McMillan November 18, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Gail That $15 million is actually $40 million once the bonds are repaid. Your Machado remark is telling. Measure's D and F were put in place to keep the council in check. No one thought that the council would generate revenue up to $17 million by charging the RDA for a loan at 10% and thus getting a sudden influx of cash that would make it possible to legally bypass Measure's D and F. The worst part was that the council made the RDA bonds tax free so that every penny had to be used on a major construction project within three years. The city was so focused on the AH issue that by the time the bonds were passed it was too late for any one person or group to get the momentum to turn it around. Henry, Dennis, Harry and other concerned residents did the very best they could but here we are stuck with a tribute to your ilk. When Novato voters get a chance to determine how money is spent they are consistently frugal. This project does not even rehabilitate the community center or the remaining structures. Compared to MacDonald's plan it is far more expensive with far less in return. We must ask ourselves why the council turned down Bennett and Stroeh's offer of a public/private partnership that could have gotten us parking and offices in exchange for land that would create sales tax revenue. We must ask ourselves why MacLeamy sandbagged the MacDonald plan after all the months of public workshops. It looks like you win and Novato loses. Congratulations.
henry November 19, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Chester, I don't agree that any of what they say is garbage. In fact every thing that Tina, Mark, Craig, and Roger say is right on the money. It is just too late as the city has broken ground on their wasteful and ill-conceived project. H
Roger November 19, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Gail, perhaps in 2030 the Council then will add a third SMART station in Novato (on Grant like where the train stopped 50 years ago) after many riders gradually say as looking out the window as the train slows to pass Grant, "Wow, what a funny looking main street, why didn't the dumb Council decide back in 2010 to make the train stop here at the old historic Depot?"
Brent Ainsworth November 20, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Reader named Kay emailed this comment: Novato parklets are a waste of space! All the trees take up space already. Something to add seats might work. There isn't enough parking along Grant at this time. PLEASE do NOT take away more!

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