(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) St. Joseph businesses could have the option to expand their outdoor seating, curbside.
In an initial discussion, the traffic commission brought up the idea of parklets on Wednesday morning's meeting. Parklets are curbside public seating platforms which extend into the street, typical for restaurants.
The city has been trying to draw more attention to the downtown area and commissioners believe parklets could add some flare.
Shops and restaurants throughout the city would have the option to give their customers outdoor dining or seating if the city were to permit parklets.
Andrew Clements, Director of Public Works said if there were to be a second wave of the coronavirus, outdoor seating would help restaurants stay operational.
While Clements cited the positives in allowing curbside seating in St. Joseph, he said parklets will be a controversial discussion in the downtown area.
“Whenever you have more activity outside, it always makes it appear more vibrant, more inviting. I think that’s always really good. If they’re done right and done appropriately, they can be a nice aesthetic enhancement as well. For the negative, it doesn’t really matter where you are with the business, parking is a commodity and you’re always concerned about not having the most convenient parking,” said Andrew Clements, Director of Public Works.
Parklets would replace some parallel parking in front of a business wanting to add curbside seating. Because of this, neighboring businesses would have to be in agreement with the additional seating area. The city would require a business seeking to add a parklet to bring in documentation that states adjacent businesses are okay with the removal of parking spaces for the added parklet.
Traffic safety was also brought up during the meeting. Because the seating does extend into the street, the curbside dining must be in an area where the speed limit is 30 MPH or less and be protected with some sort of fencing barrier. That way, access to the parklet is only accessible by a sidewalk entrance.
Parklets also must be ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, approved. The curbside seating area could be raised on a platform, permitting access by sidewalk or through a ramp.
The parklets would be required to be temporary pictures that can be moved for road repair and the winter season.
No decisions have been made by the traffic commission. The next process in moving the permit of parklets will be discussed in the traffic commission's upcoming meeting held August 12th.