Rossin College students work with PoliSci professor's team to help improve urban experience

There’s a colorful interlude for passersby on Fourth Street in Bethlehem—a pop-up parklet outside Roasted restaurant built by Lehigh’s Engineers Without Borders outreach committee and Professor of Practice Karen Beck Pooley’s Lehigh Valley Parklets team.

The colorful parklet, a sidewalk extension that fits within two city parking spaces and strives to improve pedestrian and customer experiences, will be in place until Oct. 31.

“Our hope is that more people will come out to the South Side, especially Lehigh students, and integrate more with the community,” said Annaliese Cunniffe ’19, who chaired the outreach committee. “And to beautify the South Side too.”

Popular in places like Seattle, Philadelphia and other cities, parklets are small public parks that extend sidewalks and offer green space and seating areas. Karen Beck Pooley, professor of practice of political science at Lehigh, helped bring the idea to Bethlehem through her classes that focus on South Side projects.    

Cunniffe, who received her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Lehigh, said she and other students involved with Engineers Without Borders visited one of Pooley’s classes to explore ideas and met Joe Lule ’19G, who was interested in developing a South Side parklet.

Joining Cunniffe, who is pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, and Lule, who received a master’s in environmental policy with a certificate in city planning, in the project were Carolyn Wang '21 (computer engineering) and Kristine Phan '21 (electrical engineering).

The Parklet outside Roasted, which cost about $1,000 to construct, is 34 feet long and 7 feet deep and filled with color—red, yellow and orange. A bench stretches across the back wall, allowing for different configurations of tables. The gray flooring is made of pallets, and a mural was added to the back wall.

The students, who received trained in woodworking to complete the project, built the Parklet inside Building C on the Mountaintop campus, then transported it in sections to Fourth Street. The students consulted with Roasted owner Derek Wallen on design.

“It’s great from our perspective because we got to do a hands-on project,” said Cunniffe. “From the community’s perspective, it brings in another space to beautify South Bethlehem.”

Read the full story in the Lehigh University News Center.

Story by Mary Ellen Alu


A new parklet goes up in front of Roasted

A new parklet goes up in front of Roasted on Fourth Street in South Bethlehem. From left, Annaliese Cunniffe ’19, of Lehigh's Engineers Without Borders; Roasted owner Derek Wallen; and Joe Lule ’19G.