Pope brought a proposal to the Cortez City Council during its Tuesday workshop, asking support to convert a few parking spaces in front of the Sunflower into a “parklet.” He said it would provide seating and a shady place to hang out for people gathering on Main Street. After much discussion about the effect such a project would have on nearby parking, liquor licensing and other concerns, the council expressed support, and Pope said he hoped to have it built by the end of the summer.
“We see it as a gathering place before and after, and even during, events, for people to be outside enjoying the weather we have here,” he said.
He said the KSJD staff had asked several neighboring business owners what they thought about the idea, and had received mostly positive feedback. The proposed parklet would be 8 by 32 square feet, taking up three parking spots, and would have a wooden shade and some permanent furniture. Pope said he wanted to open it by late August, although the council would have to approve an extension of KSJD’s easement for the property first.
While the area would be open to the public, Pope said its primary purpose would be to provide an outdoor dining and drinking area for Sunflower attendees, especially after evening events, when most Main Street businesses are closed. But he acknowledged that if the parklet proves to be popular, it could lead more businesses to create their own outdoor seating.
Although the response from the council was positive overall, some members said they would need to conduct more research before officially approving the project. Because of this, Mayor Pro Tem Ty Keel said he didn’t think it could be completed by August.
“There’s a checklist I think we need to go down to do our due diligence, so that we’re not exposing either (KSJD) or us to some sort of liability,” Keel said.
He said the Sunflower’s liquor license may have to change in order to allow drinks to be served outdoors. Council members also expressed some concern over the effect it might have on parking and Main Street traffic. Board member Shawna McLaughlin said she worried that if other businesses decided to open up parklets on Main Street, much of the already-scarce parking could go away. City Manager Shane Hale said KSJD’s parklet would be a good “test” to see if the model would work elsewhere in the city. Other council members said they felt the benefits could outweigh the costs.
“I think this is just one more way we can add some interest to our downtown area,” Mayor Karen Sheek said. “I think the time may be right for something like this.”
Pope said he hoped to bring an easement change before the planning and zoning commission and the council in July.