Parklet Grant

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Gardner responds to the AARP Community Challenge and is awarded funds to build a parklet for Downtown!


Gardner is one of 129 communities across the nation that was awarded grant funding as part of the AARP Community Challenge for “quick action” projects that achieve one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options
  • Create vibrant public spaces
  • Support the availability of a range of housing

The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative that helps communities make immediate improvements and jumpstart long-term progress to support residents of all ages. Nearly 1,600 applications were received from non-profits and government entities for the program, now in its second year.

What is a parklet?

A parklet is a sidewalk extension that repurposes space for vehicles as space for people.  Gardner will create this portable pop-up mini park as a place to rest or socialize in the shade along the City’s sidewalk network within close proximity of City Hall, the public library, businesses, churches and schools. 

Why did Gardner decide to build a parklet?

This accessible parklet is the first step toward creating permanent public parks (civic greens) for flexible community activities in the heart of Gardner, as envisioned in the Gardner Main Street Corridor Plan.  By becoming engaged in the process of creating the parklet, citizens will become familiar with the long-term vision plan for Downtown and will find opportunities to become involved in making this vision a reality.  The parklet will foster a spirit of socialization by creating a comfortable informal gathering place, and will provide a visual demonstration of the City’s commitment to public recreation and the Downtown.

Who is the parklet for?

Everyone! Residents and visitors.  People visiting churches, schools, downtown businesses, or the public library. People employed Downtown, parents waiting to pick up children from school or dance class, people traveling through town in motorized wheelchairs or on bikes, non-profit groups sponsoring a public gathering or event, local musicians and performers, the local Chamber of Commerce – any other ideas?

What do people do in a parklet?

Whether alone or with others, a parklet is a flexible recreation opportunity!  Hopefully people of all ages will get in the habit of hanging out in the parklet, whether for active socializing or passive people watching.  We envision people eating lunch, reading, chatting, and resting along their way around Downtown.  The parklet could host impromptu or planned performances by musicians or other performers, or become a meeting space.

What will the parklet look like?

We will be asking for your help with that.  It must be accessible to those with mobility challenges, and provide seating and shade for pedestrians taking a walk or wheelchair ride through downtown in hot weather.  It could involve plantings, bicycle parking, games, and art.  We think it will be built on a modular steel frame for portability, will have wood flooring to reduce heat, along with benches, safety features, an ADA access ramp, and furniture.

How can I get involved?

The City will ask citizens to help design, fund, construct, and program the parklet during the remainder of 2018.  It is anticipated that the parklet will be complete by early November.

  1. Volunteer to be a project champion (be on the leadership team).
  2. Be ready to submit your ideas for parklet designs.
  3. Attend the design input meeting and support the best designs.
  4. Donate materials per the project wish list (to be developed soon).
  5. Donate labor to help build the parklet.
  6. Help with community outreach.

After the permanent public parks are built, what will happen to the parklet?

The parklet will be installed and managed by the city as a mobile public park.  It will be designed to be moved to other locations to provide ADA seating at events.  The City may also solicit proposals from other organizations in the future who want to use the parklet for public events.  Hopefully the parklet will be shared and used by many people in the community.