The Town of Normal will test a program to turn a parking place or two into cafe tables and chairs for businesses.
The Town Council on Monday approved a pilot project for Stave wine bar in Uptown Normal. That came over the objection of council member Jeff Fritzen, who said he had safety concerns.
Town planner Mercy Davison said they do have a safety plan.
"In most communities, on the end of the parklet, that is adjacent to the next parking space you would put in a parking block. Essentially it's like putting in a curb. And parking blocks can be pretty tall. So that would stop someone from pulling in to park and literally driving into the parklet," said Davison.
Davison said there would also be parking blocks between the driving lane and the tables.
Mayor Chris Koos, who supported the plan, said the parklet will bring "life to the street."
"That's very important in terms of a vibrant Uptown," Koos said Tuesday on GLT's Sound Ideas. "People really like being on the street in good weather. It makes a lot of sense."
If it's successful, Koos said town officials will consider on-street parking needs before deciding if other businesses can do it too.
"We haven't made a decision one way or the other about how that's going to happen. Because this is really a test project," Koos said. "But we are going to be mindful of not taking (away) too much on-street parking."
Davison said other communities have made increasing use of the device to encourage foot traffic, and outside lingering for food and beverage businesses, though there are limits.
"It would certainly include some sort of limit on the number of these that would be appropriate at all. And that is true of every community we looked at. Some of them have a percentage where you can't lose more than 10 percent of parking places in a block, or each block gets one. There are all sorts of math formulas for it," said Davison.
Celebrating Gene Brown
Town Council members also honored City Engineer Gene Brown, who is retiring at the end of the month with 33 years of service.
Brown has overseen hundreds of millions of dollars in public infrastructure spending in his decades with the town. In a resolution marking the occasion, the council honored Brown for his dry wit, willingness to hold his ground to defend his positions against all comers, and his kindness.
Brown said he has enjoyed his time with the town and that he remembers nothing bad. That includes more than a thousand public meetings, according to the resolution.
You can also listen to GLT's full interview with Koos:
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