Even parklets huddle inside Tuesday in Morristown

Need an iron-clad winter weather forecast?

SNOWPLOW SAYS IT ALL at 'parklet' demo in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

SNOWPLOW SAYS IT ALL at ‘parklet’ demo in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Forget about TV reports, the National Weather Service and the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Just Google Morristown and parklet demo.

Whatever date pops up virtually is guaranteed to be wintry.

After Tuesday, the town’s parklet planners are now 0-for-2. As in two demo tries, two snow-outs.  The first attempt, in December, was canceled outright by the snow gods.

Planners soldiered on for a couple of hours this time, inviting hearty pedestrians into a storefront at 18 North Park Place before waving the (snow) white flag.

Please click icon below for captions.

Those who ventured inside found a parking-space-sized mockup that left a lot to the imagination. Sturdy interlocking floorboards and an umbrella stood in for a warm-weather “parklet”– a mini-park or café that planners envision occupying one or two spaces outside a South Street shop or restaurant.

“There are a lot of great parks and public spaces in Morristown. But they’re not always meeting people where they are,” explained Phil Abramson, from the town’s planning consulting firm, Topology NJ.   “This takes a public space and brings it to the people, and to the front door businesses, so they can really leverage it.”

Paul Miller, left, of Sustainable Morristown, and planner Phil Abramson of Topology NJ, review weather reports at indoor parklet demo in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Paul Miller, left, of Sustainable Morristown, and planner Phil Abramson of Topology NJ, review… weather reports?… at indoor parklet demo in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Anecdotal reports suggest parklets have boosted commerce in New York, San Francisco and Montreal.  Morristown is searching for a downtown location to test the concept, working with agencies ranging from NJ Transit, the Regional Plan Association and Together North Jersey to the Morristown Partnership and Morristown Parking Authority,  Sustainable Morristown and Morris Arts.

Once a location is identified, Phil said, the town will seek grants to fund the pilot project. The goal is to establish a blueprint and procedures for merchants who wish to sponsor parklets outside their establishments.  A regional planner estimated last year that such sponsorships might net the town $25,000 apiece.

Such fees mostly would cover labor, materials, permitting, and administrative costs associated with creating and maintaining the parklets, according to Phil.

For the last year or so, town planners have been engrossed in the nitty-gritty of a new zoning master plan. (A public hearing is scheduled for 7:30 pm 7 pm on Jan. 23, 2014, in town hall.)  That document is loaded with detail and stretches a decade into the future.

Parklets are meant to provide more immediate and visible results, Phil said.

A crucial question is how to replace lost parking if metered spaces are transformed into parklets for half the year. Street parking is at a premium downtown.

Ultimately, Phil said, merchants must decide what generates more business: 20 patrons lounging in a parklet, or two parking spaces for cars.

“This is an opportunity for choice, a choice that’s never existed before,” he said.

For now, at least, it’s also an opportunity for rock-solid weather predictions.

 

Together North Jersey wants your feedback on the Morristown parklet project. Surveys are here:

togethernorthjersey.com/parkletsurvey

togethernorthjersey.com/parkletsurvey_spanish

 

 

 

 



Comments

  1. Margret Brady says:

    Why would 20 people want to sit in a parking space in traffic when anywhere in Morristown there is an actual park or bench near by? The big cities cited as examples don’t have the benefits of the multitude available places and places to sit in virtually every part of Morristown. Perhaps identifying, improving and promoting those already existing spaces or spots to add more benches would serve as better use of these funds. We already permit sidewalk cafes throughout the town and they seem to do quite well, without eliminating needed parking spaces.

  2. Virginia Faulkner says:

    Putting some more benches on the major streets would do the same thing without eliminating parking spaces.

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