The city of Weatherford has begun the construction phase of several parklets on the downtown square, but not everyone is happy about it, as Parker County commissioners heard Monday morning.
Parklets are small outdoor venues directly outside of restaurants, which would provide an extension of seating for those businesses. Weatherford City Manager James Hotopp said the idea came about after government regulation drastically cut down the capacity for restaurants to be able to seat customers.
The city is looking at putting the parklets on three quadrants — the northeast, southeast and southwest sides, using monies from its hotel/motel funds.
Quickprint Weatherford Owner Vonda Norris said she was approached Friday by city staff about the project, after work had already begun. Her main concern was parking being limited in front of her business and others.
"There was talk that they would close the alleyway behind us and make that a corridor, and I was all for that, but I had never heard of a parklet until the other day," she said. "I've let a lot of things go. I've lost parking right in front, lost parking across the street that's now green ... I just feel like the city doesn't want service-oriented people here."
Each parklet will take up about three parking spots. Hotopp said the city has been working on additional parking improvements, including the creation of 47 spaces along Church Street and a project currently underway at Austin and Trinity streets.
Norris said she feels the city is just catering to the restaurants, which Hotopp denied.
"We are not Granbury, we are not Frisco," she said. "What is this doing for Texas Butane, for Bullard's [Vet Supply], for others?"
Hotopp said in general, most have been very receptive to the parklets because it is an investment into the downtown area to bring in more people and help those businesses that struggled during the pandemic.
He added that staff had approached businesses to offer dedicated parking in front — which Norris said she denied.
Another resident voiced her concern about traffic being cut off around the square.
Hotopp said nothing has been formalized or set up through either the county or the city's thoroughfare plans for reconfiguring traffic.
County Attorney John Forrest said that because the Parker County Courthouse is a functioning courthouse, it will continue to have availability of parking and traffic.
The square is presumed to be owned by the county, though the city has maintained it for several years now. Commissioners approved the city continuing the project, with a motion to review it again in six months, which would also give the court time to confirm ownership of the property.
Hotopp said the parklets are also movable, so that in the future if the court decided not to allow them, they could be relocated.
Commissioners praised the work the city has done in the downtown area, noting they would like to be made aware of upcoming projects as they move forward.
"We want there to be a resolution for everyone," Precinct 3 Commissioner Larry Walden said. "I would hope the city has a process in place to resolve issues that might be created by this.
"There's no doubt that we want to work with the city on many projects, we would just like to know a little bit ahead of time."