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CMSC Webinar

Implementing Successful Parklet Programming

Webinar Summary

During COVID, we saw a surge of temporary interventions to support outdoor dining and shopping by way of parklets and other outdoor space programming. How can we carry forward this momentum and develop sustainable parklet programs that better support local businesses, foster community, and improve the pedestrian experience?

In this webinar you will:

  • Understand what parklets are and the different types of parklets or outdoor shared spaces and their benefits
  • Learn the ordinances, zoning & other policy considerations to implement a successful program
  • Hear from communities who have implemented successful parklet programs about how they did it
Presentation Highlights

Stamford Case Study

History

  • Stamford had a small PARKlets program in 2016, 2017, and 2018 for sidewalk only dining.
  • The StrEATeries Program was a collaboration between the City and the Downtown Special Services District with the goal to keep restaurants open and let people dine safely during COVID-19 restrictions. The program transformed 140+ parking spaces into outdoor dining using caution tape, water barriers, and other materials that was already on hand. The program was well-received.
  • In the fall of 2021, the City contracted with FHI Studio to developed regulations and a design guide to address: ADA compliance, roadway safety, noise concerns, design and material standards, streamline planning and permitting processes, and to reduce the regulatory burden on restaurants.

Present Day

  • As of March 16, 2023, the city passed an ordinance to make the outdoor dining permanent. The design guide and permitting process is being finalized.

Future Plans

  • Building on success by moving from temporary to permanent.
    • On Lower Summer Street, the city is eliminating street parking and widening the sidewalk to allow for more outdoor dining. This project is set to break ground in spring 2023.
    • Parking area on Bedford Street is in talks to close off and become a permanent public plaza that would also create 80 seats of outdoor dining.
  • Transformation of public space from car oriented to people oriented.
Stamford Parklets – Key Topics

Parking

  • The mindset of having parking right in front of the restaurant as the most important asset is slowly changing because restaurants are realizing that one or two parking spots could equal up to 20 extra seats. Stamford also has other parking lot options for customers.
  • The City of Stamford calculated a $500k-$750k loss in parking revenue due to outdoor dining. It was a policy decision to focus on keeping downtown restaurants open and to attract visitors to downtown. There are fees for outdoor dining permits and there is a possibility of higher tax revenue and other economic benefits from expanded dining.

Funding

  • The purchase of materials for the StrEATeries Program in response to COVID was self-funded by the City of Stamford.
  • The design guide was funded through a CDC grant funneled through the Capitol Region COG.
  • The Lower Summer Street sidewalk expansion project is funded through the CT Department of Transportation Community Connectivity Program as well as City capital funds.
  • The Bedford Street public plaza is funded through the Communities Challenge Grant through CT Department of Economic and Community Development as well as City capital funds.

Stakeholders

  • Launching the StrEATeries program was an “all hands on deck” initiative including the Operations Department, Health Department, and Public Safety. The Transportation, Traffic, and Parking team (under Operations Department) lead the project.
Parklet Design Guide Considerations – FHI Studio

Creating a design guide is essential for standardizing outdoor dining and ensuring the safety of pedestrians and diners. We highly encourage you to watch the webinar starting at marker 12:00 for a more in-depth overview of the design considerations FHI Studio put together for their design guide for Stamford.

Design Guide Best Practices

  • Consider the target audience of the design guide and make it easy for them to understand (e.g. restaurant owners, property owners, etc.)
  • Provide good technical information with easy-to-understand graphics
  • Provide easy to follow construction/materials guide
  • Straight forward public-friendly permitting process
  • Guidance should be flexible including a custom design opinion and a standard design option
  • Keep it short and simple

Design Guide Contents

The design guide should include:

  • Site selection requirements
    • Prohibited locations include crosswalks, bus stops, bus lanes, bike lanes and bike facilities, commercial vehicle loading zones, fire lanes, and handicap parking spaces
  • Parklet layouts and design requirements
    • Design requirements for all types of parklet typologies: Parking lot, street closure, on-street parking (angled and parallel), sidewalk – curb side, and sidewalk – building side
  • Permitting process including applicable fees and requirements
  • Operations and maintenance
Parklet Programming Examples

Examples of parklet programming from other cities:


About the Speakers

Luke Buttenwieser

Luke Buttenwieser has been with Stamford’s Transportation, Traffic, and Parking Department for four years. In his role, Luke works on a variety of projects ranging from addressing citizen service requests; zoning, building, and construction permit review and management; grant writing; roadway and neighborhood transportation planning studies; oversight of roadway design and construction projects; and pavement markings and signage design and installation. Luke spearheads the City’s Outdoor dining program, and is the project manager for the City’s Vision Zero Initiative. Luke focuses his work on improving safety for all roadway users with an emphasis on pedestrian and bicyclist safety and mobility.  He is also a full time student at New York University on a dual Bachelors/Masters track from the Tandon School of Engineering where he is pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Sustainable Urban Environments and a Masters in Urban Planning from the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Parker Sorenson, PE

Parker Sorenson, PE, is a transportation engineer with FHI Studio, a Hartford-based planning and engineering firm. During his 8-year tenue with FHI Studio, Parker has been a leader in projects related to transportation planning, traffic engineering, and community engagement. He has particular interest in bicycle and pedestrian planning and conceptual design and has led projects with such focus at the local, regional, and statewide levels for communities across the northeast. Currently, Parker is a key member on several projects such as trails routing studies, traffic calming design projects, road safety audits, complete street guidelines, corridor studies, safety analysis studies and transportation master plans. In all his projects Parker strives to combine big-picture thinking with big-data technical analysis and graphical representation so that clients and the public may make informed decisions as to the future of their communities.

Contact


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