The city council will soon decide on the future of parklets

Many have expressed concerns about what the final permits will look like and how it will affect businesses.

NEW ORLEANS — Tomorrow, the New Orleans City Council will decide the future of parklets after hearing today from business owners and residents across the city.

Many have expressed concerns about what the final permits should include and how much it should cost businesses.

Pepp’s Bar owner Sam Wourth said he hopes his parklet is here to stay.

“The positives have been incredible. People love to sit outside having a beer and it makes my bar fun and attractive because people are in front and having a good time. It’s amazing,” said Wourth, “I really need this parklet to make my business successful.”

Wourth is one of 40 business owners who opted into the temporary parklet program in the fall of 2020 when COVID-19 took hold of local bars and restaurants.

Nearby, Wourth’s neighbors at the Silk Road Restaurant and Wine Bar also want to keep their parklet.

“Some people still prefer to sit outside,” Chief Ganesh Ayyengar said.

These two businesses in Marigny are ready to comply with safety regulations and permissions decided by the city, but the people of Silk Road are concerned about the proposed fees which vary from $10.50 to $31.50/square foot depending on the location.

“There’s no reason why, first of all, why we should be lumped together with the French Quarter which has metered parking. You know we’re not taking any revenue out of the city like they would, but also just the amount it was kind of just created out of thin air and completely unwarranted,” Silk Road Wine manager Cassie Borden said.

At Wednesday’s economic development meeting, the New Orleans City Council said it would review the fees and possibly consider scrapping them as some businesses are still trying to get back on their feet.

While some neighborhoods want parklets to stay, people across the city had different concerns.

“The magazine isn’t going to expand, so if you already know that, why waste people’s time going through the process if you just have some kind of restricted area,” one woman said at the meeting.

The City will determine the areas to be restricted due to safety and congestion issues.

Council member Oliver Thomas expressed concern about the loss of parking spaces.

“We are losing something, but maybe we are gaining something more. I don’t know,” Thomas said.

Under the proposed permanent parks program:

  • Parklets must be ADA compliant
  • Parklets will not be permitted in areas with a speed limit of 30 MPH or higher
  • Parklets should be removable for things like parades and hurricanes
  • City design guidelines will apply
  • Parklet opening hours will be limited to 8:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.

Some companies are concerned about having to invest additional funds to meet City design guidelines.

But Pepp’s Pub is not concerned.

“Stretching up the neighborhood is something we could all seek out,” Wourth said.

Because in a city where you can already drink on the street, some think that a permanent seat to do so is fine.

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