Town mulls parklets as a way to jump start local economy

JACKSON, Wyo. — Town leaders recently discussed ways to give local businesses a shot in the arm as reopening slowly takes shape in Jackson. With help from the Economic Recovery Task Force, one idea appears to have taken hold.

During its regular meeting June 1, town council identified several options such as food trucks, signage, one-way or closed-off streets, and parklets. Parklets (think sidewalk cafe) garnered the most interest during the hourlong discussion earlier this month. As a result, the town is soliciting ideas and applications for just such a venture.

Parklets are local business takeovers of parking spaces that convert them into extra outdoor seating or dining areas, retail space or other creative flexible outdoor space. They can be built out like decks with benches and fencing, or flower boxes and bike racks, or they can be bare bones with tables and chairs. The simple variety is something the Town of Jackson is supporting businesses to test out this summer.

As of this week, the town is accepting applications for businesses to create parklets either using the public right of way or on private property. The process is similar to applying for other town permits but has been streamed line as a one stop shop application with a quick one week or less turnaround time.

Parklets could take on a variety of shapes and forms. Photo: Courtesy TOJ

The idea for parklets in Jackson was sparked through the Economic Recovery Task Force as a way to encourage business activity in town while also reinforcing our community’s commitment to physical distancing to mitigate further spread of COVID-19. Hearing business owner’s interest after recent months of closure, town staff worked to create a low-barrier, low-cost process that is as flexible as possible to support local businesses while also helping to keep people dispersed.

Applicants will need to include site plan drawings that indicate potential perimeters, dimensions, and efforts to accommodate social distancing requirements. Defined perimeters are required to ensure there is a safe buffer from traffic for patrons, and that proposed parklets do not interfere with existing curbs, fire lanes, loading zones, bus stops, taxi zones, or handicap parking spaces.

Businesses that create parklets can keep the various elements within them (café tables, chairs, bike racks, planters, signage, fencing, portable heaters, lighting, or benches) even during non-business hours or remove and store them each day.

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