LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – It's an idea designed to provide a neighborhood-like feel in downtown La Crosse.
Downtown Main Street Inc. is proposing an addition of parklets—an extension of outdoor seating which would cover parking spaces, enclosed by anything from plants in removable pots to fencing.
“This gives an opportunity to sit down, enjoy a conversation with somebody, read a book, and have a cup of coffee,” Main Street Inc. Executive Director Robin Moses said.
The parklets, which would be temporary, would cover a few city parking spaces outside of local businesses in downtown La Crosse, from May through October.
“Right now, we are going through the process of working with the city to kind of develop a program that would be beneficial for downtown and beneficial for the downtown businesses. We have to weigh the issues of parking in downtown with the benefits of adding parklets into this environment,” Moses said.
It's regarded as a popular concept in planning, but Jules Coffee House Manager and Owner Chris Kahlow said she doesn't see why her business needs parklets.
“In a parklet, it's public, and the business would have to pay for that spot. You can't really regulate what goes on. I don't know whether it would enhance my business, personally,” Kahlow said.
Downtown Main Street is proposing a pilot program to add a couple of parklets by next year—to serve as a test run and see if the positives outweigh the negatives. If the approach is approved, Kahlow said she supports it.
“I see it as opening the door to try it out. I'm ok with that,” Kahlow said.
Moses said because the program proposes partnerships between local businesses and the city, determining who owns the parking spaces is the main issue which must be addressed moving forward.
The pilot program proposal will go before the city council on July 10. If approved, the program will launch in 2015.
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