Commission OKs new idea in downtown A.L. for parklet

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2017

An outside space for families downtown might soon be available in Albert Lea.

The pilot project of a parklet could begin this summer in space in front of Grandma’s Kitchen, 115 E. Clark St. A parklet is a deck of sorts that is built over at least one parking space and is designed to provide more space and amenities for users.

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The Blue Zones Community Policy Committee has worked to initiate the project over the last year, and the organization will finance the project.

Grandma’s Kitchen owner Candy Neely said she hopes the parklet will provide a family-like atmosphere.

“We sell ice cream cones and floats, and we get a lot of mothers come in with their children,” she said. “I think it would be really nice for them to sit outside in the parklet and eat their ice cream.

“Something different for us off Broadway.”

She hopes the parklet will be in place by July 1.

Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams discussed the proposal at the Albert Lea City Council meeting Monday, and Albert Lea’s Heritage Preservation Commission reviewed the proposed project Tuesday.

“We have discussed the concept with Grandma’s Kitchen on Clark Street, and they are amenable to piloting the project,”Adams said in a report. “The parklet would be donated to the city by a local contractor (Lembke Construction Inc.) and essentially licensed and permitted to Grandma’s Kitchen during the warm seasonal months.”

City Planner Molly Patterson-Lundgren said the project will provide people the opportunity to gather and spend more time downtown.

“This is to give it a try,” she said.

The Heritage Preservation Commission approved piloting the project this summer, requested to see a design plan for the project and asked to be able to view future similar projects in the Historic Preservation District. The council must give final approval for the project, and the parklet will be removed for the winter.

The parklet would make downtown more attractive for young people, said Brad Kirchner, Preservation Committee member.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “It’s not historic, but I think it would create kind of a metro vibe.

“It gives you something different that we don’t have.” 

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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