Mayor: Benefits 'Outweigh' Loss of Space as 'Parklet' Returns to Downtown Summit

The City of Summit has reinstalled the public 'parklet' on Springfield Avenue between Beechwood Road and Summit Avenue. Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit

SUMMIT, NJ - During the most recent City of Summit Common Council meeting on April 4, the topic of parking again took center stage. At that same meeting, Councilman Robert Rubino noted the City's "paucity" of approximately 450 spaces, as detailed in a paid study performed by Level G Associates in 2016.

While acknowledging the prevailing sentiment by a portion of the community that parking in the Hilltop City is, at minimum, a challenge, on April 18 the City of Summit reinstalled the public 'parklet' on Springfield Avenue between Beechwood Road and Summit Avenue.

The second appearance of the public space -- designed to afford residents, visitors and patrons of downtown businesses the opportunity to congregate in an al fresco setting -- results in the elimination of two, metered Springfield Avenue parking spaces.

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The Springfield Avenue 'parklet' is contained in two connected parking spaces directly in front of Tito's Burritos & Wings and Batavia Café. It is composed of wood decking to keep it sidewalk height and is flanked by 10 planters. It houses six tables and 12 chairs. Safety features include a temporary curb and barriers with wheel stops to prevent automobiles from accidentally driving into it.

The project's one-time cost to establish the parklet in 2016 was funded by a $4,500 contribution by Tito's Burritos & Wings and Batavia Café and $5,000 in materials and labor supplied by the City. Tito's and Batavia also paid for the cost of the tables, chairs and umbrellas that sit on the 'parklet'. The cost to reinstall the 'parklet' is being absorbed in the Department of Public Works budget for 'open space maintenance'.

The City estimates is it foregoing approximately $1,500 in parking revenue between May 1 and November 1 to accommodate the project,

Use of the space is not restricted to customers of the two businesses.

“We are very pleased that the public parklet is being brought back for a second season,” said Summit Mayor Nora Radest. “Last year it provided a welcome boost to areas businesses and helped to enhance the perception of our downtown.”

Radest appeared to affirm the dichotomy that the project presents when she said, “During the downtown beautification project last year, 14 new parking spaces were created when roads in the downtown were repaved. While parking does remain a challenge and area of strong focus for the city, the quantified benefits of the parklet outweigh the loss of two parking spaces.”

In an effort to create additional public gathering spaces outdoors, the City has also purchased four additional tables and eight chairs for Lyric Park on the corner of Beechwood Road and Bank Street.

The pedestrian area already contains a permanent seating wall and, according to the City, was designed to function as a “parklet-style” gathering spot.

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