PORT TOWNSEND — It’s all about coexisting.
At the city of Port Townsend’s open house Tuesday afternoon, the conversation was about streateries and parklets, two features added to the downtown and Uptown in the wake of the pandemic.
Streateries are cafes set up in the public right-of-way outside restaurants, while parklets, with their benches and foliage, are diminutive city parks.
The city may work with adjoining businesses to initiate the building of a parklet, a space that’s open to the public at all times.
In recent discussions, the Port Townsend City Council has considered whether to make these a permanent part of the landscape, even as the streateries take up parking spaces.
The open house in the Cotton Building on Water Street was one of very few city-hosted forums held in person since March 2020. It was lightly attended, with a few dozen people coming in to talk with officials, including City Manager John Mauro, City Engineer Laura Parsons and Public Works Director Steve King, while Police Chief Tom Olson was also on hand.
Elysia Hays-Williamson, who owns The Chandlery with her husband, Jordan, was one of the retailers who dropped in. Her candlemaking shop, located inside The Undertown on Taylor Street, is surrounded by restaurants.
If they’re going to have streateries, she said, downtown’s waterfront dock areas would be better spaces for them than the asphalt roadway.
Pope Marine Park, for example, could be a sweet setting for an outdoor dining space. A hop-on and hop-off trolley would also benefit the shopping-and-dining districts, Hays-Williamson believes.
She doesn’t want to see a “triple divide” develop between restaurateurs, retailers and the locals who need parking spaces; “it takes a village to work together,” Hays-Williamson quipped.
Mari Mullen, executive director of the Main Street Program promoting Port Townsend’s historic districts, said she’s heard from a variety of people on the streatery-space question.
People want parity, she said, when it comes to the use of space in the business districts.
Streateries, permitted since mid-2020 but set to expire this May right after Mother’s Day, will be the topic of the Port Townsend City Council’s next meetings.
First the council members will review public feedback — from the open house and from the surveys conducted by the city and by the Port Townsend Main Street Program. That will be on the agenda for the council meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
Members of the public can attend in person at City Hall, 250 Madison St., or online via cityofPT.us. To connect with the meeting, use the Government menu and then Agendas and Videos.
Come April 18, the council plans to hear even more public input and look at modifying the municipal code, possibly to make streateries and parklets permanent.
That Monday meeting also will be open to in-person and online participation. The City Council could come to a decision on streateries’ fate at its May 2 meeting.
This issue has sparked considerable public commentary, Mauro said at the open house. Hundreds have responded to the city survey — “which is great,” he said.
Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or durbanidelapaz @peninsuladailynews.com.