The concept of small urban oases parklets has caught on in some big cities, such as San Francisco, where open space is scarce and expensive.
Now, Modesto has its first parklets, thanks to a group of citizen volunteers to improving downtown.
The parklets are on both sides of 10th Street at J Street. Each is about 600 square feet large enough for a handful of tables and chairs, a couple of cafe umbrellas and several large concrete flower pots that separate the public space from traffic. The pavement is being painted with a red brick design, to make the space distinct from the pavement and appealing.
The person most responsible for these is City Planner Josh Bridegroom, who paid out of pocket for the almost $1,000 in expenses. The cost was kept low by creative thinking and reuse. The big pots were moved from elsewhere on the street. The brick template was donated by an artist. Traffic engineers helped with the design to assure that the parklets do not interfere with traffic flow. Even a fire engine or an 18-wheeler can navigate the corner safely. And no parking spaces were lost with the creation of the parklets.
The owners of two downtown restaurants, Subway and Picasso's Gourmet Deli, will help with upkeep of the public space and will benefit from having this attractive space in front of their businesses. But the parklets are public space, open to anyone eating or visiting downtown.
What may be most remarkable about these additions to downtown is that it only took about eight weeks to go from the idea stage to reality.
The City Council acknowledged the project at Tuesday night's meeting. We do, too. It's proof that it doesn't take huge amounts of money to make attractive improvements to our community.