Greenport could expand ‘parklets’ through Thanksgiving weekend

How does the idea of outdoor dining on Front Street in Greenport sound for this Thanksgiving?

It’s not out of the realm of possibility under a proposal to keep the village’s popular “parklets” e open through November 27. The parklets eliminated parking spaces along parts of Front and Main streets this summer and filled those spaces with tables and chairs to allow for an expansion of outdoor dining and retail during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Greenport Business Improvement District president Rich Vandenburgh said he recently learned the state permit allowing the parklets remains in effect through Nov. 27. The village had planned on phasing them out after Columbus Day next month.

“The merchants and, I think, everybody is now completely happy with the fact that it’s worked well and provided great opportunities for a lot of places to just continue to do the best they can with what they got,” Mr. Vandenburgh said in an interview Friday. 

Greenport Trustee Peter Clark had coincidentally already raised the subject of extending the parklets at Thursday’s Village Trustee meeting and asked if the village could request of the state that it be extended. 

“From my standpoint, numerous visitors and residents have made a point to come in and say how pleased they’ve been with our approach and how we’ve handled this,” he said. “There’s been a lot of good will generated by it, and I have received nothing but positivity from visitors and residents that come to my business.” 

In August, state and county officials applauded the parklets at a ceremony in Mitchell Park.

“One of the jobs of Empire State Development is to figure out do we open the economy, safely and in compliance with all the health regulations, but also making sure we can open up businesses around the state and particularly, small businesses,” ESD president Eric Gertler said at the event. “And how do we do that effectively? Right here in Greenport is a terrific model.”

Mr. Vandenburgh has written a letter to village officials seeking their blessing for the extension of the parklets into late November. 

“I have received many inquires, comments and requests from our membership hoping that we could keep these parklets in place longer than the original Columbus Day weekend deadline,” he wrote. “They continue to serve our merchants and provide a safer and enjoyable experience during these challenging times.”

Andy Harbin, owner of Andy’s, a sports bar and restaurant on Front Street, said Greenport paved the way for other communities to follow.

“Greenport did a great job of leading,” he said. “There’s a lot of villages and towns throughout Long Island that look like what the BID designed here in Greenport.” 

Mr. Vandenburgh said the next step will be how to keep people warm outside in October and November.

Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said some restaurants have had outside heating units with propane. She said the village will need new guidelines in that area, since it will start getting darker and colder earlier. 

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