Montpelier adds 'parklets' downtown - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Montpelier adds 'parklets' downtown

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There's a new look for downtown Montpelier. They're called “parklets” and local officials and some businesses are hoping to see more of them.

Supporters are calling it a first for the capital city.

The city, with the help of Ward Joyce's Design Build class at Vermont Technical College, launched the first of what may eventually be several parklets downtown.

"The idea was to create a variety of seating areas facing in all directions, especially looking up the beautiful river, but it’s effectively a place that enhances or enlarges the sidewalk and creates a place to pause," said Joyce.

In recent years parklets have popped up in a number of cities from Montreal to San Francisco. This project was put together by the class as a semester-long project.

"I worked on the designing an the building so it was really cool to see the project as a whole, design and build, which is kind of the goal of the class," said Georgia Durham, a VTC student.

Last year, half a dozen restaurants and bars expressed initial interest in sponsoring parklets, but state liquor control officials voiced concerns over patrons mixing too close with traffic. Those applications are still up in the air.

The structure, which takes up two parking spaces, will be taken down in the fall. In a city with already limited parking, some shop owners say they are concerned about taking up even more space. Joyce doesn't see it that way.

"What we're hoping to demonstrate is that the social synergy of bringing people here outweighs the loss of a couple of parking spaces. I think that sitting and having a cup of coffee is a more civic activity than parking your car," said Joyce.

Some pedestrians seemed to enjoy the new look.

"I'm pretty excited to see how this plays out. I think there's a lot of potential for attracting people downtown and socializing and communicating and hanging out which is kind of a nice thing," said Andrea Cohen, from Montpelier.

Experimenting with a new look on Capital City sidewalks.

Montpelier has approved six parking spaces on Main and State streets to be dedicated for parklets as part of a two-year pilot project.

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