This past summer, the city of Charlotte introduced “parklets” near Brevard Court – and while the core idea is amazing, the execution is unremarkable.
It’s time we reimagine the possibilities of the parklet.
For those new to the discussion, a parklet is a temporary extension of the sidewalk over an on-street parking space that serves as a small public park.
“I’m really excited that parklets will offer another way for businesses and neighborhoods to help shape the character of their streets,” Scott Curry, Urban Designer & Pedestrian Program Manager for CDOT told the Agenda last summer.
Scott is so right. But our city’s execution is unimaginative and budget.
Not only do parklets provide the immediate benefit of space for citizens to meet, mingle and enjoy space together – they also serve as the entry point into a citizen’s imagination on what public space can mean.
Making parklets cool should be a strategic investment by the city of Charlotte to win over the hearts and minds of citizens so that future planning initiatives have better outcomes.
Public space matters.
So, what should the city of Charlotte do? Solve the problem with human centric design principles and allocate real budget.
For example, we don’t need the Brevard Court parklets 20 feet from Romare Bearden Park.
The city should evaluate areas around popular restaurants without enough seating (thus guaranteeing parklet usage).
You’d guarantee parklet popularity if you put them near Price’s Chicken Coop in South End, Sabor in Elizabeth or Soul in Plaza Midwood.
From a financial standpoint, there’s no return on half-assing parklet design and construction.
If we believe public space is important, let’s use imagination and real money to do it right – not halfway.