The town of Elon started talking about “parklets” in the fall of 2017. Last week I saw the start of what the downtown additions are going to look like.
Up to now, the parklet idea was merely a concept, something conceived on the West Coast to turn small areas into places where people can sit, relax or take in their surroundings. In the most recent Burlington Times-News story on March 16 a photo of a parklet in Seattle was featured. Elon officials want the parklets — one on Lebanon Avenue near the intersection with Williamson Avenue and another on Williamson Avenue in front of Pandora’s Pies — ready for the town’s 125th anniversary celebration on April 7.
From the looks of things that should happen.
This is far from the final product. I shared this photo with a friend of mine over the weekend (I took it on Friday, March 23). It shows the Lebanon Avenue parklet looking toward Williamson Avenue — Elon’s main drag. Her first comment was that it didn’t look much like the parklet in Seattle. At the moment that’s true. But this doesn’t appear exactly ready. I anticipate plants or other greenery and some stain to finish the woodwork. Then we’ll see.
But I would say this is a good start. When completed it should provide inviting areas where folks can gather. At the Williamson location in particular the parklet may be a great place to cap a spring or summer evening with some ice cream from Smitty’s. I wasn’t too sure about this idea when I first read about it in October. But it has possibilities now that I can see where it’s going.
According to the October story by Times-News reporter Bill Cresenzo, Elon’s downtown administrator Kathleen Patterson proposed the mini-parks to give people a place to congregate and ease the overall lack of space on the town’s sidewalks. It’s also a nice green space to break up the asphalt, concrete and brick in that part of town. The parklet idea started in San Francisco, according to the Times-News. If this succeeds in Elon the idea could move to Mebane, Graham or Burlington.
One interesting aspect of these mini-parks is they would be temporary. If space is needed, they could be broken down and placed into storage.