Parklets Coming to Aspen?

Just heard some great news from an Aspen Times article yesterday – Aspen City Council members introduced the idea of adding Parklet’s to Aspen’s downtown core during Tuesday’s work session. I don’t want to get too excited yet – the idea didn’t seem to come with overwhelming approval. It’s the beginning of an idea though, and with the right design and motivation, could add another perk to being a pedestrian downtown.

San Francisco Parklet

San Francisco Parklet

What is a parklet exactly? Parklets are a more recent trend, often in cities where public open and green space may be lacking. Of course we don’t have to worry about that in Aspen or the surrounding area, but as the town works towards a more walkable and pedestrian friendly agenda, parklets could be a great use of a few spare parking spaces downtown. Residents of San Francisco, Vancouver, and Philadelphia have initiated numerous parklets throughout their cities, adding simple places for people to linger, relax, and enjoy the city from a perspective normally cruised by cars and people rushing this way and that through hectic city streets.

Check out a few examples from around the country. San Francisco has several great parklets scattered through the city – they can be permanent or portable to move through the city to areas in need.

San Francisco Parklet

valencia parklet

Here in Aspen, we aren’t hurting for green space. But how about space in town other than the pedestrian mall for lingering, chatting with family and friends, and enjoying the view of our mountains. It’s a trend we’d be silly not to keep up with, as the town thrives on being a comfortable and enjoyable place for pedestrians – tourists and locals alike.

Aerial view - very modern design

Aerial view – very modern design

These examples are mostly in warmer climates – what if we designed some cozy winter parklets with stoves, heat lamps, and holiday lights? Heat is a magnet during our cold winter days. My guess is that parklets for winter lounging would be an immediate draw. And if not, parklets can easily be designed to be temporary – what’s the harm in trying one out? As the Aspen Times article relates, Aspen’s downtown pedestrian mall began as a silly idea. Now, the town is hardly imaginable without it’s pedestrian core.

Parklets in Aspen could be an excellent use of public space for the public – we can sacrifice a couple of parking spaces, especially if the goal of the town is to provide a pedestrian-centric place to explore and relax. Parklets have the potential to increase pedestrian-oriented activity and encourage people to linger and enjoy their surroundings. They could also be a project for local landscape architects, architects, artists and designers to showcase their creativity. Parklets can be made of anything…. check out these examples from the Bay Area…

Yet another creative use of pallets...

Yet another creative use of pallets…

Shipping container idea...

Shipping container idea…

Cheers to town council for introducing the topic – lets not let this one die!

[P.S. Check out the Aspen Times article here for more info!]

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