Cranford follows parklet trend in downtown area

Photos Courtesy of Kathleen Miller Prunty
Toddlers tickle the ivories on a brightly painted public piano while others have enjoyed giant sidewalk games in

CRANFORD, NJ — Cranford has recently created a “parklet” in its downtown on Eastman Street. Popping up in downtowns large and small, parklets are small open spaces that provide people with a temporary, pleasant place to relax and enjoy the business district.

“We voted on it at a recent meeting after it was suggested by Kathleen Miller Prunty to keep people in the downtown area, and we decided it was a great idea,” Steve Needle, a member of the Downtown Management Corp., told LocalSource on July 26.

Prunty is the director of the Cranford Downtown Business and Economic Development Office.
“I donated my time along with a contractor from MJ and Son to do the deck work. It didn’t cost the town any money, and all the local businesses helped to make it happen. It’s an aesthetically pleasing, relaxing area downtown, and people have been sitting there often.”

Other sponsors were Realtors Barbara Zeckman and Sharon Steele.
The new parklet takes up a single parking spot in front of Vinny’s Pizza and Hilltop Bicycles, although several locations were considered prior to deciding on the final one. Local business owners were supportive of the idea since the addition of a parklet is usually beneficial for businesses.

“Our office listed five or six locations and then visited with a representative of the Police Traffic Division,” Prunty said in a July 27 email. “Some were eliminated and some came off the list because of concerns from business owners. I personally met with 21 business owners in the Eastman area, and they were all very supportive.”

Photos Courtesy of Kathleen Miller Prunty
Cranford’s Eastman Plaza, featues of a ‘parklet’ that allow residents and visitors to the downtown area to enjoy the business district.

The parklet will remain until September or October and will possibly return next year as a seasonal attraction. A brightly painted public piano has also been drawing attention in Eastman Plaza and the giant sidewalk games there are also a hit. The piano was donated by the Lafferty family and painted by Cranford High School students.

“The temporary parklet will remain through the fall,” Prunty said. “The parklet is another example of creating and improving public spaces and excitement in the downtown. We encourage people to to utilize our spaces for coffee, lunch, reading a book or just people watching. ”

Improving existing public spaces and creating new ones, as well as being more pedestrian friendly, are elements of the 2017 Downtown Strategic Plan prepared by the Downtown Management Corp.
“A Lego contest was recently held in the parklet and people have been sitting there quite often,” Needle said. “It’s a beautiful new attraction to the downtown area.”