Council asked to revisit ‘parklet’ plan

April 14, 2019

Two weeks after approving a temporary sidewalk extension on Historic Third Street, the Rochester City Council will likely be asked to reverse its decision.

Alan Yanowitz, an attorney with a law office on the same block, has requested time for Third Street Southwest business owners to speak during Monday’s council meeting.

“The request for a hearing is based upon the fact that when (Council Member Mark) Bilderback asked the applicant if she had consulted with neighboring businesses, the applicant nodded in a manner that upon information and belief was construed as if she had said all affected businesses and property owners were consulted and supported her application,” Yanowitz wrote in a message to city administrators.

The applicant was Grand Rounds Brewing Co. owner Tessa Leung, and Yanowitz said several affected businesses didn’t know the council would be considering a one-year pilot project to create a small parklike space that will serve the same function as a sidewalk cafe.

Referred to as a “parklet,” the space would be built with wood decking over three metered parking spaces outside the brewery. One space is a 30-minute metered slot, and the others are marked as loading zones outside Grand Rounds.

Bilderback, who has since met with Third Street business owners, said many concerns appear to stem from miscommunication.

“It wasn’t a clear, concise message,” he said.

While disagreements remain, Bilderback said he doesn’t feel it’s time to pull the plug. He’s hoping the project can be put on hold long enough to continue discussions with neighboring business owners.

“I really would like to see the groups continue working together,” he said, noting the project and related discussions could affect other proposed changes for the street.

At the April 1 council meeting, Assistant City Administrator Terry Spaeth said the project could be the first step in trying to determine the future of the street following reconstruction planned for 2020 or 2021. Options discussed have included removing most traffic and vehicle parking from the block between Broadway Avenue and First Avenue Southwest.

During the same meeting, Council Member Nick Campion said he liked the concept of testing the new street design because it was ”something that makes us uneasy,”

On Friday, he said he’s willing to listen to opposition, but remains undecided whether he would consider revoking the permit.

Council Member Michael Wojick has indicated on social media that he might ask council members to reconsider their earlier decision.

“In discussions with staff, some of the materials in the council packet (on April 1) were incomplete or misleading,” he wrote.

Deputy City Administrator Aaron Parrish said the request from Yanowitz to address the council doesn’t require action. It will be up to council members to decide whether to reconsider the April 1 decision.

He added that staff members have met with a group of business owners in the area but does not intend to make a recommendation to the council.

“There was no consensus developed by the group,” he said of the meeting with business owners.

The City Council meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday in council chambers in the city-county Government Center.