WITH a price tag of $18,000 the parklet at The Sicilian in Taree was an expensive gamble for owner, Gabriel Darzi.
He gave local building company, Sorensen and Cauldon $16,000 to build the parklet in one car space in Victoria Street and then spent $2000 on seating for the community.
It opened in March 2015 and quickly became a catalyst for community discussion about the value of one car space to users versus the value of a parklet as part of a program to try to revitalise the central business district.
The six-month parklet trial approved by Greater Taree City Council could have resulted in an order by council to Mr Darzi to demolish the structure, but instead, council determined the community impact to be positive after a community consultation campaign. It stated that "the parklet is considered a progressive and inventive economic attractor for Taree that creates opportunity to enhance vibrancy of a public space."
Council recently went further in its support of parklets for the Greater Taree area by acting to adopt a parklet policy.
The new policy gives Manning Valley business owners the opportunity to foot the bill for their own parklet and not have to pay annual contributions to council for the use of the space.
Council considered charging business owners an annual fee for a parklet but resolved to impose no contribution given the cost of parklet construction. A report to the December meeting of council revealed parking spaces in town centres are costed at $17,500 in the Section 94 plan. It also revealed that in assessing the need for a contribution from parklet owners "that currently no businesses in the Manning Valley pays for outdoor dining space."
"For example, The Sicilian has around 22 square metres available for outdoor dining, which includes the parklet. In comparison, Raw Sugar has around 36 square metres and Cafe Mediterrano 20 square metres; each of these spaces is located within Victoria Street and is available at no cost to the business operator."
The Sicilian parklet is the first and council will now welcome applications for more in streets with high pedestrian movement and low speed zones.
Parklets are intended to be seen as a piece of street furniture, providing aesthetic enhancement to the overall streetscape and are available for the whole community to use, according to the policy, and will usually claim one or two parking spaces in a street. "Council supports the installation of parklets in town centres in order to improve the local economy and the overall shopping experience."
Council at its meeting on January 27 will look to approve The Sicilian parklet for a seven year period from February 1, 2016 to January 31, 2023 in accordance with the Roads Act.