Summit parklet good for businesses and residents

Photo by Jennifer Rubino The newly opened parklet, where residents can lounge, eat or work outside.
Photo by Jennifer Rubino
The newly opened parklet, where residents can lounge, eat or work outside.

SUMMIT, NJ — A parklet was installed on Springfield Avenue in Summit and officially opened on Thursday, July 28. Summit Mayor Nora Radest officiated the opening at a ribbon cutting ceremony that began at 5:30 p.m. The parklet was installed in front of Tito’s Burritos and Batavia Cafe.

“The parklet is a sidewalk extension with cafe tables and chairs. There are planters and flowers that provide more space for people using the street,” said city of Summit Public Information Officer Amy Cairns. “It was installed by the City of Summit Department of Community Services and was funded by contribution from both Batavia Cafe and Tito’s Burritos. This is a temporary parklet that will take up to two parking spaces.”

So far the installation of the parklet is encouraging patrons to spend more time outdoors enjoying the summer weather. It has also helped to increase business as more people are congregating to the area. Business owner Wydia Pertusi, of Batavia Cafe, reported that the parklet has improved her business in the last few weeks.

“I decided to contribute to the parklet because I thought it was a great idea,” Pertusi told LocalSource. “It’s an interest point for the city and it’s good for business too. I’ve noticed an increase in the number of customers I serve since it’s been installed. Customers are happy and excited about the new addition.

When we have perfect weather like we’ve been having the past few days, everyone wants to be outdoors as much as they possibly can. This is when I see the most people spend their time at the parklet.”

There are approximately nine tables at the parklet. Each table has two or three chairs. There are flowers and grass surrounding the area. Patrons are encouraged to enjoy the parklet while the weather and town permit, as it’s only a temporary installation.

“The parklet will be here until mid-November or the beginning of November,” Pertusi reported to LocalSource. “It’s a pilot program by the city and if they decide it’s successful, it will return again next year. So far people are loving it. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be back again next year. The council will make a decision regarding the matter. I’m certain that the businesses are in support of it.”

Attempts to reach the owner of Tito’s Burritos were unsuccessful. Radest did not respond to LocalSource’s request for comment.

Parklets have been found to increase certain behavior among pedestrians. An increase in stationary activities such as reading, writing, eating, drinking, talking and playing have been reported upon the installation of a parklet. It’s also found to impact the perception of a town or city. It makes the space look cleaner and more organized. The parklet in Summit is also in an ideal location for it to be actively used.

The parklet doesn’t pose any safety risks because it’s flush to the curb and there is a wheel stop to prevent cars from driving into it. There are also barriers and a temporary curb. A case study found that a parklet can increase pedestrian traffic by 37 percent on weekday evenings. The average amount of people that would sit or stand increased by 30 percent. There was a 13 percent increase in the number of pedestrians found at all times. The average number of visitors to the area increased by 100 percent.

“There have been a handful of complaints regarding the parklet,” Cairns told LocalSource. “People are concerned about the amount of available parking spots. We purposely installed the parklet during the summer while many people are on vacation. We are repaving to increase the amount of parking spots.There will be six new spaces to accommodate this need. More businesses are expressing an interest in adding a parklet to their area of town. If this is a success, we might give them the opportunity as well. People have also expressed that they want more places outdoors to spend their time.”