Most visitors to downtown Lawrence like the street parking stalls-turned-al fresco dining spaces and would use them in the long term, according to the city’s recent survey.
The temporary right-of-way program, implemented to help restaurants stay in business amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is set to expire on Dec. 31. The city is considering implementing a long-term version of the program. City commissioners asked staff to gather public feedback to help determine what to do next. Those results are in, and staff now recommends extending the temporary parklets through the end of March 2022 to allow time to develop a long-term plan.
Out of 2,000 responses — a new record for the city’s online “Lawrence Listens” platform — almost 91% of respondents said they’d used a parklet within the past nine months, and 59.1% said they’d used one more than five times in that time span.
Most respondents, 82.1%, were Lawrence residents who visit downtown; 8.7% were non-Lawrence residents who visit downtown; and the remainder included downtown business owners, employees and property owners. Nearly one-third of respondents fell into the age group of 35-44, the survey results show.
85.6% of survey respondents said that if the city creates a long-term parklet program, they were either somewhat more likely (17.9%) or much more likely (67.7%) to use the businesses that have parklets, according to the presentation. Another 6.9% said they were either somewhat less likely (1.1%) or much less likely (5.8%) to use the businesses that have parklets; 7.6% were neutral.
Some of the benefits people noted in the survey included that they liven up downtown, offer COVID-safer options, build a “pedestrian-oriented destination,” and help businesses stay in business — thereby maintaining jobs and increasing tax revenues.
Some drawbacks people mentioned include the loss of parking spaces for cars, the aesthetics of the bright orange and white barricades, accessibility for people who have disabilities, and the parklets’ use depending on decent weather.
The city also received some separate emailed comments, most in support of the parklets. Two downtown retail business owners wrote in opposition.
See the full survey results — including more than 750 pages of individuals’ responses — at this link.
The Lawrence City Commission will meet at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9 to discuss parklets and more. The full agenda is available at this link. The meeting will stream live on the city’s website and YouTube channel.
Written public comment must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon the day of the meeting. You can make public comments during the meeting in person at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., or via Zoom; click here to register. Masks are required to attend in person. Commissioners will attend virtually.