Downtown Taylor continues to change but from different directions.
Second Street is an example of convergent ideas from Taylor’s municipal government. The city’s parklets program recently became permanent while the 2015 Downtown Master Plan continues to be implemented in increments.
Residents occasionally misidentify one for another. Councilmember Robert Garcia brought up the issue during the Taylor City Council meeting on April 22, when the parklet program became permanent.
“There was some confusion on what’s a parklet and what’s the bulb-outs,” agreed Councilmember Dwayne Ariola. “What’s the difference?”
After a public hearing last year, the City Council approved an ordinance to begin a parklet program June 11, 2020.
“A parklet is an area within the public right-of-way — typically a parking space or two — that is licensed to the adjacent business owner to use as an extension of their business,” said Tom Yantis, Taylor assistant manager and director of development services. “An example would be a restaurant using the parklet to provide additional, outdoor seating.”
Bulb-outs and greenscaping
After a lengthy public engagement process, the Taylor Downtown Master Plan was adopted in 2015. The plan is intended to be a flexible document that is used to evaluate short and long-term policy decisions, capital improvements, development and revitalization efforts.
“Over the years, the City Council has sought ways to make historic downtown Taylor an even more inviting place — a destination where people want to visit, stroll, shop, dine, drink and enjoy,” said Mayor Brandt Rydell last year when part of the plan began to take effect.
A section of the Downtown Master Plan has suggestions for the district’s signature streets.
“One of the recommendations in the Downtown Master Plan is to install bulb-outs at key intersections,” said Yantis. “A bulb-out or curb extension is an extension of the curb and sidewalk into the pavement area typically at a corner. These extensions shorten the distance that a pedestrian has to traverse when crossing the street and provide areas for pedestrian amenities such as landscaping, benches and trashcans.”
Downtown roads include Main, First, Second, Talbot and Porter streets.
“As the master plan continues to be implemented,” said Yantis, “there will be more bulb-outs installed.”
What’s here right now?
Bulb-outs, which include “greenscaping” and décor, have been placed on Second Street between Porter and Talbot streets. Temporary materials such as pain, rubber curbing and metal planters were used.
“This was done in order to be able to make a more cost-effective pedestrian improvement and to get it done quickly,” said Yantis. “While this is not the final improvements that will be done, it helps to demonstrate the concepts in the Downtown Master Plan and provide a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape.”
As of April 26, there are no officially licensed parklets in Taylor.
“The City has discussed potential parklets with a few businesses,” said Yantis, “but none of them have moved forward with the permit yet.”
However, a bulb-out could be used for a parklet.
“A business that is adjacent to a bulb-out can apply to utilize a portion of the bulb-out in their parklet permit,” said Yantis.
Parklets are available to any Taylor business adjacent to a city street but not adjacent to Main Street or other roads maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation.
“The first step in the application process is to schedule a pre-application meeting,” said Yantis. “That can be done by contacting the Development Services office at 512-352-3675.”
In the meantime, the visible changes on Second Street will effectively remain.
“The bulb-out is staying there forever,” said Councilmember Robert Garcia, “and the parklet program is something else.”
For more information on parklets or the Downtown Master Plan, contact Yantis at 512-352-5990.