NEWBURYPORT — The city hosted a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony on the corner of Essex and State Streets Thursday to unveil its new grant-funded parklets for outdoor dining.
The parklets — featuring wooden decks, flowers, umbrellas, tables and chairs — provide extra space for restaurants to expand their capacity and adhere to social distancing amid COVID-19 concerns.
"Having expanded outdoor dining options was instrumental in helping our restaurants reopen and generate business last year, and we're pleased to be offering a more permanent and, frankly, more appropriate way for everyone to enjoy this spring and summer," Mayor Donna Holaday said in a statement.
The state Department of Transportation awarded Newburyport a $280,000 Shared Streets grant this past winter, which allowed the city to install the parklets.
"We're thankful the state awarded us a grant to support this opportunity, which will be a much-appreciated asset for local businesses recovering from the challenges of the pandemic," the mayor said.
The parklets are modular, so they can be easily moved and stored for the winter to be reused for years to come. They replace the large, temporary barriers that the city utilized in parking areas last year.
Parklets are installed on Pleasant and State Streets in front of restaurants including Port Tavern, Agave, Anchor Stone Deck Pizza, Paddle Inn, Carmine's, Brine, Angie's Food and Diner, Loretta and Lin's Little Kitchen.
To provide space for these expanded outdoor dining options, the city has loosened restrictions on select streets, sidewalks, plazas, parking lots and in parks.
Mission Oak Grill was allowed to put in a decked dining area in Brown Square between the veterans memorial and a statue of William Lloyd Garrison, although the site doesn't abut the Mission Oak property.
At the unveiling Thursday, the mayor was joined by her chief of staff Matt Coogan, representatives from the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Department of Public Services staff members and deputy director Jamie Tuccolo, city councilors, local restaurant owners and state Sen. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen.