Use last summer was limited to side streets while MnDOT worked through due diligence regarding use on U.S. Highway 2 corridor

    By all accounts, the debut of the parklets/portable patios in downtown Crookston last summer was a success, with various “parties” being held that attracted people to downtown to enjoy food, drink, entertainment and, of course, the portable patios, which were constructed by Marc Wagner of Wagner Mobile Welding.

    Not only did they make a splash, they were groundbreaking, at least in the sense that Darren Laesch, Minnesota Department of Transportation District 2 planning director notes that until Crookston reached out, MnDOT had never received a request from a community in the state to use a parklet/portable patio within the right-of-way of a trunk highway corridor. While last summer’s patio parties were held on side streets like Second Street located off the Main and Broadway U.S. Highway 2 corridor, Laesch said that Crookston is on track toward receiving a “limited-use permit” to place the portable patios along Main and Broadway if downtown events organizers so desire.

    “It’s exciting, especially since we’re the first one in the state to do this,” City Administrator Shannon Stassen said in a recent meeting with Laesch and other MnDOT representatives. “Thanks to the DCDP (Downtown Crookston Development Partnership) for making this happen.”

    Stassen said downtown and portable patio proponents possibly got a little ahead of themselves earlier this year when they sent out an email indicating the portable patios were “good to go” along Main and Broadway. Turns out, Laesch said, MnDOT still had to work through its due diligence regarding the potential for additional liability and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), so the City was advised until that process could be worked through to limit the use of the portable patios to side streets downtown.

    City Council Member and DCDP liaison Clayton Briggs said it’s his understanding that Wagner will be crafting an extension from the portable patio to the curb to make certain it complies with ADA.

    As for visibility, orange cones were typically placed adjacent to the portable patios this year to alert passers-by, but Public Works Director Pat Kelly advises that the portable patios be outfitted with reflective measures to increase their visibility when it’s dark outside.