MUKILTEO — For 63 years, it was where people hustled to get on a ferry.
Now it’s a walk in a parklet.
What’s up with that?
The former ferry approach ramp has a newfangled identity: parklet.
Add that cute little word to your vocab. And don’t be discouraged when spellcheck tries to change it to parakeet.
A parklet is basically a pocket area repurposed for seating, park space or dining. These mini amenities also go by parkette, pocket park and street seats.
This space could be a ramplet, if such a word existed. The ramp was used by 2 million vehicles a year on the busy Mukilteo-Clinton route.
Then, suddenly, it was a plot of pavement without purpose when the new ferry terminal opened eight months ago. State ferry coffers paid to remove the old roadway, dock, ticket building and pave the new parklet. Railings went up to keep people from toppling into the sea along the scenic overlook. Concrete planter boxes serve as traffic barriers along the street.
The parklet sits on prime real estate at the end of Highway 525 on Front Street at the crosswalk on the popular pedestrian stretch between Lighthouse Park and Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing.
The roughly 60-by-60-foot patch of asphalt is owned by the Port of Everett.
Ivar’s formed a partnership with the port to put the space to use and is overseeing the parklet.
“Because it is so small, they didn’t want to manage, landscape and keep the litter cleaned so they asked us if we would do it,” Ivar’s president Bob Donegan said. “They asked us to put some tables in there for the public and we could use a section of the parklet to put additional tables for the full-service restaurant.”
About half is fenced off with tables for Ivar’s diners only, who can have a drink or two.
Picnic tables will be added on the other side for public seating, where people can consume food but not alcohol.
Plans call for the parklet to look snazzy in 2022.
“What’s left of this summer, we will watch how people use the park and figure out how to lay out benches and planters,” Donegan said. “Over the winter, we’ll work with the Port of Everett and the city of Mukilteo to design a more accommodating park than just a bunch of asphalt.”
Diane Rhodes, a spokesperson for Washington State Ferries, said two interpretive boards are in the works to be mounted on the parklet wall near Losvar Condominiums. These will show aerial shots of the area in 1958, with the U.S. Air Force’s 10 fuel tanks, and today, with the new terminal and promenade.
“This is the first of many steps to revitalize the Mukilteo waterfront to promote tourism, economic development and public access,” Port of Everett CEO Lisa Lefeber said. “With today’s health climate, providing outdoor dining adjacent to public spaces is an attractive and prudent step for businesses and cities to promote and support.”
There is no official name yet for the parklet.
How about Port-a-parklet? Park Cutlet? Parkleteo?
Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said the parklet fits with the city’s vision.
“I’m excited about the development,” she said. “I hope we can work through a process to provide the same option for Diamond Knot eventually.”
Korey MacKenzie, manager of nearby Diamond Knot, said he is happy for Ivar’s.
“To expand outdoor seating is really important now,” he said.
His customers can take to-go orders to the picnic tables on the parklet. Diamond Knot had a sidewalklet with six tables a few months ago after it received approval for outdoor dining, but that was rescinded after a citizen complained about alcohol being served on park property.
Booze can be served on a parklet under the right licensing.
But cars can’t park on the parklet. Those concrete planters ensure that.
Not to worry. The former ferry holding area across the street is now a park-lot where lots of cars can park.
On a recent afternoon, Aart Maat of Mukilteo perused the parklet with his husky, Taz.
“I didn’t know what a parklet was,” Maat said. “It comes from park and parking place because it looks like a parking spot.”
Taz stuck his nose through the railing for a whiff of the sea, then the two continued on their daily three-mile walk along the waterfront.
Chris Larson of Lynnwood stopped to take a selfie in the parklet.
“I never even knew that was a thing,” Larson said. “Parklet, what? That’s crazy.”
Parklet was a new word for Brian Dehn, a visitor from California.
“It looks like a band-aid, they’re giving it a name,” he said. “It looks like this has a lot of potential as a spot. It’s gorgeous here.”