West Allis gets a taste of parklets and outdoor dining
Officials see potential in concept locally
West Allis — Outdoor dining decks flanked by flowers could become a reality in downtown West Allis if a demonstration "parklet" in front of a new café on Greenfield Avenue works out.
The city last week gave its blessings to try out the concept at the newly opened Urban Joe Café, 7028 W. Greenfield Ave. The owner will receive a $2,000 demonstration grant on a parklet he would own.
Parklets are taking off in cities all over the country, city officials say. Milwaukee got its first parklet this summer.
A parklet is like a landscaped wooden deck that bumps out into the parking lane. In the case of the Greenfield Avenue location, it will be decorated with flowers and possibly shrubs. As in other cities, the parklet will be folded up and stored for the winter so that plows can get through.
The original thought was that people would dine on the deck, but now it's more likely that tables and chairs will be set up on the sidewalk instead, reducing the likelihood of injuries if a car goes out of control. Heavy planters, strategically placed, will also provide protection from traffic.
In a memo to the Common Council, Development Director John Stibal said parklets "beautify public open space and create destination neighborhoods and great streets."
He also verbally told the Administration and Finance Committee that the idea holds strategic merit in the city's commercial corridor.
"(Parklets) help by bringing vitality and life to the downtown area, which is what we're trying to do," Stribal said.
Mayor Dan Devine, who supported the parklet demonstration effort, said that with all the restaurants it has now, the West Allis downtown is poised to become very vibrant at night.
"We've become a spot where you can meet friends at a restaurant, and have a drink or dessert at one of the other places," he said, adding that parklets could be the boost the area needs.
"I had been looking at them in other cities before Milwaukee had theirs. I was walking in their downtowns and wished we had sidewalk dining," Devine said.
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