New Haven re-purposes parking spots so you can dine al fresco

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– If you’ve taken a spin around the Elm City recently you might have noticed, instead of cars, there are bike racks and diners in parking spots.

It’s what the city is calls a terasse. It’s where a business pays the city for the parking and they rent from the Town Green special services. So, they can rent the ballards and patio furniture.

Owner of Meat & Co., Danielle Ginetti rents a space from the city for a little over $100 a week. She says it gave them more foot traffic, doubled their seating, and allowed them to hire more people.

“I love that New Haven started this because it’s really helped us as a business prosper. So, I think it’s a great program,” said Ginetti.

Folks we spoke with were split on whether they’d want to dine on a terasse.

“I found it fun. It brings you right out onto the street,” said Jeff Olszewski.

Bob Pilloise said, “I don’t like eating with exhaust fumes in my face, but other than that people like it. It’s not for me.”

Plus, even with the ballards as a safeguard drivers are close to the diners.

“Safety is a huge issue as you can imagine with people eating in the street so close to moving traffic. So, the city and Town Green are making sure they’re not putting terasses in high risk situations,” said Town Green of Special Services, Win Davis.

It’s why they’re only on streets where the speed limit is 25 miles per hour or less.

City leaders believe it encourages folks to spend more time downtown. It’s the same reason why you’re seeing more bike racks are taking over spots. That’s through the New Haven Public Improvement Program or NPI. It’s where the city gives $10,000 a year to individuals to improve their downtown space.

“The NPI is really a way to engage our communities, engage our greatest volunteers in New Haven and invite them to spend their tax money, their way,” said Doug Hausladen, Dept. of Transportation New Haven. “The goal is to expand parking options for all types of shoppers in our district and we know that bike commuters and bike shoppers actually spend more per week in our businesses and restaurants than the car commuter.”

And you may see more spots used in different ways. They’re looking to expand the terasse program to include Parklettes. That’s where a business will be able to take up more spots, install a deck, and give folks who want to dine outside more space.

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