BLOOMFIELD, NJ –Bloomfield Department of Health and Human Services unveiled the township’s first urban parklet on Saturday afternoon, October 6, during the 26th Annual Harvest Fest.  It’s part of an initiative to create more outdoor public spaces downtown.

Harvest Fest ran along Broad Street, between Bloomfield and Belleville Avenues.  The festival attracted approximately 20,000 visitors and featured family-friendly activities, such as amusement rides, petting zoo, carnival attractions, live music, a dozen food trucks and hundreds of vendors selling various products.

The portable interactive parklet was set up along Broad Street and was on display all day.  One parking space was transformed into a 6-foot by 12-foot wooden area with benches, a shade sail, plants and chalkboard area.

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“Parklet is funded by a New Jersey Healthy Communities grant and the point of this space is to create a community gathering area instead of a public parking spot,” said Maya Lordo, assistant officer of Bloomfield Department of Health and Human Services and coordinator of Bloomfield Municipal Alliance.  “The parklet was constructed by Bloomfield resident and contractor Matt Mulvey of Mulvey Custom Contracting.”

For now, the purpose of introducing the parklet at Harvest Fest is to maximize its visibility so residents can see what a parklet is and understand its use and purpose.  Parklets are typically assembled for seasonal use when residents are out and about enjoying the nice weather.  No decision has been made on where the parklet will ultimately be placed.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to introduce the parklet concept to residents and get their feedback,” said Karen Lore, director of health and welfare for the Bloomfield Department of Health and Human Services.  “Communities are trending toward more walkable and pedestrian friendly space.  Parklets are one example of how that transformation can occur one space at a time.”

The parklet movement has been taking hold across New Jersey with neighboring Montclair successfully placing the “mini-parks” in key locations in town.  Streets comprise 30-40 percent of all public spaces, according to John Sullivan, vice president of Bike & Walk Montclair, meaning roughly one-third of public space is dedicated to one activity — driving.

“These temporary conversions of on-street parking spaces into inviting public spaces promote and prolong spontaneous interaction, which are of economic benefit to businesses,” Sullivan said.  “The goal of this particular one is to initiate conversation and obtain feedback from visitors on how these unique structures might help reimagine the streets of Bloomfield as places for people.”

Those that walked by and took advantage of the parklet during Harvest Fest seemed to enjoy the idea of taking a break in the unique setting situated on Broad Street surrounded by the city landscape.

Lordo added, “we hope to get the talk going about this parklet, and this is the pilot to encourage the community to come outside and get away from technology and stress, so they can take a seat and communicate in-person with other members of the community.”