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Restaurant help: Volunteers build parklet for downtown Colorado Springs seating

Posted at 7:14 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 21:14:28-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub, Manager, Meredith Klube arrived at work Friday morning with a crowd of construction workers showing up for a big volunteer project in front of her business and several others on South Tejon Street in downtown Colorado Springs. "They were all doing warm-up exercises out there. It brought tears to my eyes." The emotion is not about the warm-up, rather the project about to get underway. It is meant to aid Jack Quinn’s Pub and other near-by eateries.

Dozens of skilled construction workers here at no cost to the businesses. "Incredible volunteers from G.E. Johnson and HBA cares," said Downtown Partnership, President & CEO, Susan Edmundson.

The workers are on an aggressive one-day mission to build a block long parklet on this stretch of Tejon Street. A parklet extends usable sidewalk space. In this case it goes out over parking spaces to create outdoor seating for restaurants struggling because of extensive COVID-19 capacity restrictions. "It's not going great,” said Klube, “It's hard. We had to lay-off 90% of our staff.” The extra seating is hopefully an added stop gap to reduce the economic crisis COVID-19 is causing at restaurants.

"Anything you know we can do to, you know, help the community and these restaurants. We're all in," said G.E. Johnson Construction, Supervisor, Tim Redfern. The workers are happy to offer their skills. "The guys can jump right in to actually getting a lot of production done quickly. Which feels good," said Eric Brouilette who is also with G.E. Johnson. All involved see the threat not just to the restaurants, but also the community they call home. It is motivating a high energy effort to help.

The construction skills prove impressive. The build part of the parklet happens in less than 12 hours. For at least four eateries on the block it will more than double outdoor seating. It is winter in Colorado, but sunny days and outdoor patio heaters will make the seating workable.

The materials for the project were paid for by CARES Act funding. G.E. Johnson diverted workers from other projects. HBA Cares, a philanthropic arm of the Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association recruited dozens of skilled volunteers. RTA Architects helped with the design. Bin There Dump That donated the dumpster.