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5/12/2017 10:13:00 AM
Kendallville RDC considers funding downtown 'parklets' along Main Street

Dennis Nartker, News-Sun

KENDALLVILLE — Members of the city’s Redevelopment Commission Thursday morning weighed offering $2,000 to $4,000 in matching grants from a proposed new fund for creating “parklets” along Main Street in the downtown business district.

The commission did not have a quorum for its regular Wednesday morning meeting, and the agenda was postponed to Thursday morning.

Commissioners won’t take any action on the project proposal until city officials develop guidelines about liability, ownership, public safety and the loss of parking spaces that would occur when establishing a parklet.

Members of the group Activate Noble County first proposed parklets at a town hall meeting in April.

A parklet is the extension of a sidewalk into one to three closed-off parking spaces on a street. It can be used as a place to stop, sit and rest while taking in activities on the street, or as a place for greenery, art and visual elements.

Parklets typically have a base platform that comes up to the sidewalk level. They can include tables, chairs and umbrellas for pedestrians.

“This is something new, and we’ve got to support it with enthusiasm, but we have to watch our funds, too,” said Commissioner Lance Harman, who submitted to the commission a draft of an application for a parklet grant.

The commission budgets $60,000 each year from the downtown tax increment financing district for Kendallville’s facade grant program, and has committed $300,000 in TIF revenue to a proposed Main Street streetscape project.

City officials will find out in June if their application for a $500,000 grant for the streetscape project has been approved by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

Redevelopment Commission President Ray Scott said a parklets fund should be separate from the commission’s facade grant fund. “We don’t want to discourage parklets,” he said.

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