Park your butt Slope! Temporary seating take over parking space

Park-ing spaces: Plazas pop up curbside Downtown
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Feed your face, and not the meter!

The city will go ahead with a plan to install temporary seating in a parking space along Fifth Avenue in Park Slope after members of Community Board Six okayed the proposal last week.

But some Park Sloper merchants and residents are still questing a plan that will swap parking spots with public picnic tables during the warmer months.

“To give up a parking space for people to sit outside and have a sandwich — I think we’re going too far,” said Community Board 6 member Suzanne Turet, who voted against the installation at Wednesday’s meeting, though the plan ultimately flew through with a 24–10 vote. “That’s not really good for the neighborhood.”

The Department of Transportation will stick the summer seats — which are surrounded by wooden planter boxes to protect loungers from surrounding car traffic — in front of Thai cuisine and ice cream joint SkyIce Sweet & Savory at St. Mark’s Place later this month and leave it there through November.

SkyIce teamed up with the city to bid for the seats, but neighbors do not have to patronize the business to enjoy the public street-side lounge — the 20-foot-long plant-lined box serves as a miniature public park for locals to hang out and soak in the sun, which many neighbors say would be a welcome addition to the commercial corridor.

“I feel that servicing all of the people in the neighborhood looking for a place to relax, enjoy each other’s company, and have a snack, is more beneficial than making room for parking,” said Joanna Smith.

But others argued the seats — in addition to stealing space for cars — are a city-sanctioned loophole for businesses who want the benefits of a sidewalk cafe without going through the onerous public review process.

“It’s unfair to the people who have applied for sidewalk cafe permits,” said board member Daniel Kummer.

With the okay, the city will now begin developing a custom design for the fixture through a community feedback-gathering process before installing the seats in April or May.

The city will appear before the Community Board after the seats’ first season on Fifth Avenue to gather feedback on the project’s launch, and will only re-up the fixture if the community once again gives it a thumbs-up, said transportation committee co-chairman Thomas Miskel.

The so-called “Street Seats,” were a popular addition to Downtown in 2014 when they were placed on less car-friendly areas including little-used Lawrence Street, on a space where parking was only legal during limited hours during the week.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.