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Parklets in Greenport Village expected to return by Memorial Day

Parklets — seen as a lifeline to struggling businesses in Greenport Village amid the pandemic last summer — are expected to return in time for Memorial Day.

At a village work session Thursday, officials unanimously voted to approve the parklets, with trustee Peter Clarke absent.

Village Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said during the work session discussion that they had received between 50 and 60 letters in support of the parklets last week alone. He said that while he supports their return, it’s important that the village Business Improvement District work with the fire department to ensure they can access Front Street between First and Main streets.

BID president Rich Vandenburgh said meeting with first responders is a top priority.

“We’re absolutely ready to engage at any level with the fire department in terms of addressing how we can make the construct of these parklets safe and accessible to fire and rescue,” he said. “We’ve got some ideas.”

Last summer, as businesses began to emerge from the COVID-19 shutdown, the parklets converted 51 curbside parking spaces with seating and greenery at a time where demand for outdoor public spaces was at an all-time high.

In March, the BID received 900 responses from residents, business owners and out-of-town visitors for a survey on the parklets that found eight out of 10 people want to see them return in 2021.

Of the 900 respondents, 778, or 86% of respondents, said the parklets created a lively and vibrant atmosphere in the heart of the village and 497 people — 71% of those surveyed — reported having no difficulty finding parking.

“The percentage of people wanting to see these parklets return was overwhelming,” Mr. Vandenburgh said, urging the board to take action. “We’re rapidly approaching Memorial Day, [the merchants] are starting to plan their staffing, they want to know what they’re going to be able to do.”

Now with the support of the board, village officials will move ahead filing an application with the state Department of Transportation for the parklets, which could be in place until at least the end of September.

Former mayor Dave Kapell, who helped lead the effort to bring parklets to the village last year, thanked the board for the support.

“You did a brave thing last year,” Mr. Kapell said Thursday. “You did it under the gun, under very difficult circumstances and look at the effect it had. It made Greenport a beacon for how to move forward under those circumstances.”

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