Coun­cil ap­proves Main St. parklets

Pro­ject de­layed un­til this fall

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

As the Delaware Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion nears the start of a year-long pro­ject to repave Main Street, Ne­wark City Coun­cil has ap­proved the in­stal­la­tion of two mini parks – called parklets – along­side the road.

The parklets will be in­stalled in front of Pan­era Bread and Ne­wark United Methodist Church.

A grow­ing trend in many cities, parklets ex­tend from the side­walk to­ward the street in space pre­vi­ously used for on-street park­ing.

The ones planned for Main Street will be the size of ap­prox­i­mately two car lengths. Pro­tected from traf­fic by

brick col­umns and metal fenc­ing, the parklets will likely in­clude benches and land­scap­ing, though of­fi­cials have not cho­sen a final de­sign.

Tim Fi­lasky, act­ing pub­lic works direc­tor, said the parklets will make down­town more en­joy­able for vis­i­tors.

“We re­ally lack any place main­tained by the city for pedes­tri­ans to take a break, sit down or just gen­er­ally en­joy the at­mos­phere on Main Street,” Fi­lasky said.

The DelDOT repaving pro­ject, which has been in the plan­ning stage for sev­eral years, will bring wel­come re­lief to mo­torists who tra­verse the pot­hole­plagued Main Street. It will in­clude a full re­con­struc­tion of the road from Li­brary Av­enue to South Main Street, as well as a sim­pler repaving be­tween Mar­rows Road and Li­brary Av­enue.

Pre­vi­ously slated to be­gin early this sum­mer, the start of con­struc­tion has been de­layed un­til the fall. Work­ers will do the repaving one side at a time, block by block, in an at­tempt to min­i­mize dis­rup­tions to traf­fic. Work is ex­pected to be fin­ished by Win­ter 2019.

DelDOT will fund the repaving por­tion of the pro­ject, ex­pected to cost more than $10 mil­lion, and the parklets and other pedes­trian up­grades will be funded by an $800,000 fed­eral grant and $200,000 from the city.

In ad­di­tion to the parklets, the plan also calls for the in­stal­la­tion of sev­eral more bump-outs at cross­walks. Bump-outs – like the one cur­rently in front of Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street – make it eas­ier for drivers to see pedes­tri­ans at­tempt­ing to cross the street.

A new cross­walk will be in­stalled near the in­ter­sec­tion of Main and Haines streets, and ad­di­tional benches and bike racks are planned as well. DelDOT will also mod­ern­ize traf­fic sig­nals, im­prove curb ramps and up­grade drainage on Main Street.

The parklets and bumpouts will take up space cur­rently used for me­tered park­ing. How­ever, by stan­dard­iz­ing the size of the park­ing spa­ces — some are cur­rently longer than the rec­om­mended 19 feet — the pro­ject will ac­tu­ally re­sult in an ad­di­tional four spa­ces. That in­cludes eight des­ig­nated hand­i­capped spa­ces, of which there are cur­rently none.

Coun­cil unan­i­mously ap­proved the fund­ing, but Coun­cil­woman Jen Wal­lace ex­pressed con­cerns about the safety of the parklets, ex­plain­ing she feels it is un­safe for peo­ple to sit that close to traf­fic.

“I don’t see peo­ple want­ing peo­ple to sit on benches even if we man­age to slow down traf­fic,” Wal­lace said. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

She re­quested that coun­cil dis­cuss the po­si­tion­ing of the benches at a later date.

Mayor Polly Sierer replied that parklets with benches have been used in other places.

“I get fre­quent re­quests from con­stituents that they do want benches,” Sierer said. “I do know other cities do it. I’ve seen it.”

Tom Cole­man, act­ing city man­ager, noted that the city is con­sid­er­ing benches with “anti-sleep­ing” mea­sures, es­sen­tially an arm­rest or other bar­rier in the cen­ter of the bench to pre­vent home­less peo­ple or other in­di­vid­u­als from ly­ing across on the bench.

SUB­MIT­TED GRAPHIC

An ini­tial con­cept draw­ing shows what a Main Street parklet could look like. The de­sign and lo­ca­tion of the parklets has since changed.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

More bump-outs sim­i­lar to this one will be in­stalled on Main Street to im­prove pedes­trian safety.

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