Business owners fight to keep parklet
The permit for the portable outdoor patio at the corner of San Antonio and Main streets is set to expire on Sept. 25, but not without an effort by its owners to keep it alive.
A petition on Tuesday by one of the owners of Little Trouble, the restaurant that erected the parklet, is circulating with what its originator hopes will show community support for the structure that has provided additional outdoor seating that anyone on the square may use.
“I have done quite a bit of research and found what other communities are doing, and some are converting the temporary parklets into permit parklets,” Alexandra Worthington wrote in an e-mail that began making the rounds on Tuesday, Sept. 14. “Austin is allowing 1-to-5-year terms with ‘lease rates’ for each parking space during that term.
“I think that is a fair exchange and have offered to pay for the two spaces we are using if we are allowed to keep the parklet longer.”
One may sign the petition at ipetitions.com/petition/keep-the-little-trouble-parklett.
“I will be attending next Tuesday’s council meeting and hope to have the support to show them,” Worthington said.
As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, the petition had 71 signatures just hours after it originated.
Fellow downtown business owners who were early supporters of the petition signed up offered words of support on the petition page.
“The Little Trouble ‘parklett’ is an excellent addition to the courthouse square neighborhood and should be permitted to remain,” wrote Marty Spellerberg, owner of the Spellerberg Projects. “I’ve seen first-hand how locals and tourists love dining there. The laughter and conversations of outdoor diners contribute to the vibrant, pedestrian-friendly character of the historic district. I hope to see the Little Trouble parklett permit extended and the format expanded to other food establishments in the neighborhood.”
Wendy Ramsey, owner of Wendy R Gifts, concurred.
“Love the parklett — look at it every day,” Ramsey wrote. “People are totally enjoying it and it’s beautifully maintained. It needs to stay!”
The Lockhart City Council on July 6 voted 5-1 to extend the licensing agreement for the parklet belonging to Little Trouble by three months. Councilmember Derrick David Bryant voted against the extension and Councilmember Juan Mendoza was absent.
The motion the council approved included language disallowing future extensions. The parklet will have to be dismantled after three months.
The City adopted the parklet program to help restaurants expand their outdoor seating during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial agreement between the City and Little Trouble was for 3 ½ months.
“I want to thank you all for allowing me to have the parklet,” Worthington said at the meeting. “My intention was to build something the community could enjoy, not just Little Trouble. I’ve received a lot of compliments on it.
“It helped us recover from (COVID-related business slowdowns), and it’s continuing to help us recover.”
At the July 6 meeting, Mayor Pro-Tem Angie Gonzales Sanchez said she didn’t mind the parklets, but was concerned about their impact on parking availability. Councilmember Kara McGregor said she’d heard fewer concerns about space availability, but more about sight lines and visibility, noting that citizens had expressed to her concerns about difficulty when backing out of parking spots.
Worthington said her crew had worked to obviate those concerns.
“We’ve been thoughtful about making sure we didn’t impede traffic and stayed within the lines of the parking spaces,” Worthington said. “I have not heard any complaints about not being able to maneuver. I park in the spot next to the parklet and I have had no trouble getting out of that spot.
“I know that in the beginning people had no idea what to do with it, but I’ve seen people from Black’s and Wendy R sit down and enjoy their day.”