Destroyed Parklet 2021

Parklet builder Ellen Smith pauses while cleaning up a destroyed parklet along Wooster Street in Bowling Green.

A vehicle destroyed a parklet, one of the new outdoor dining areas in downtown Bowling Green, this morning.

Wooden splinters were scattered in front of Kabob It, 132 E. Wooster St.

The parklet was struck at 4:48 a.m., according to Bowling Green Police Lt. Dan Mancuso. The vehicle left the scene.

According to the police report, officers began searching the surrounding area for the suspect vehicle. When located, officers spoke with the driver, Timothy Koogan.

Koogan, 65, Bowling Green, was cited for failure to maintain reasonable control and stopping after an accident on public roads or highways.

Ellen Fure Smith, who built the parklets with the assistance of faculty and staff from Bowling Green State University School of Art’s Integrated Studio, said she was incredibly disappointed.

“I have put my blood, sweat and tears into this as have so many members of this committee,” she said.

Smith said she has already seen the benefits to downtown, and to have this happen, “it’s sickening, honestly.”

She called herself “a stubborn builder” and said the parklet will be rebuilt.

The platform shifted but didn’t buckle, which was the way it was designed, and the planter did what it was supposed to do, acting as a barrier, Smith said.

“I’m ready to rebuild. … It’s not going to keep us from making our downtown a better place,” she said.

Councilman Jeff Dennis said this is going to be a good opportunity to reevaluate the way downtown streets are being used. He said council may need to reconsider whether the goal should be getting people through downtown as fast as possible or getting people to downtown Bowling Green to enjoy businesses.

“I think that it’s clear we have a real traffic problem down here,” he said, “and it is very fortunate no one was harmed.”

Dennis said the remaining parklets in front of Juniper Brewing Company and Grounds for Thoughts, both on South Main Street, will remain.

“Those are protected by curb bump-outs,” he said.

Dennis suggested perhaps extending the curb permanently in front of Kabob It.

There were numerous volunteers on site helping with clean-up.

“When we heard something was going on, we all dropped everything and we’re happy to come and help out,” Dennis said.

Kabob-It owner Zach Baroudi said it was unfortunate, but he was glad no one was hurt.

“We’ll get through it. I think it was a one-time accident,” he said.

Downtown surveillance video captured the crash. It shows a silver Toyota RAV 4 southbound on North Main Street, then turning eastbound onto East Wooster Street.

The video shows the SUV strike the parklet.

According to the accident report, detectives found the vehicle parked at 215 E. Poe Road at 7 a.m. It was a match to the one in the video and had damage to the front passenger side, the report said.

In the police report, Koogan stated that he went to a downtown bar Wednesday night and left at 10:30 p.m. He said did not recall striking anything. He said no one else drives his car and no one else has a key to it.

Koogan stated that he had stopped drinking when he left the bar and kept asking officers what a parklet was, according to the police report.

Koogan stated that he had stopped drinking when he left the bar and kept asking officers what a parklet was, according to the police report.

He also reportedly said that he could not remember anything and had left his drink alone at the bar for a few minutes. Koogan inquired about getting tested for drugs that would make him black out, the police report stated. The officer told him that the hospital could test for drugs; Koogan refused an ambulance, according to the report.

Two pieces of clear headlight plastic, left at the scene of the crash by the RAV 4, matched the missing pieces on the front passenger side of Koogan’s vehicle, according to the police report.

He is scheduled to appear in Bowling Green Municipal Court on Wednesday.

“Isn’t that just awful? We are so upset, just thinking about Kabob It and the people that put so much time and effort in the parklets,” said Chris Tracy, owner of Juniper Brewing Company, which has a parklet.

Tracy said they have no qualms about keeping their parklet open.

“Absolutely not, I look forward to seeing the Kabot It parklet rebuilt,” she said. “I think this was a freak accident.

“From what I learned, it happened early in the morning, and I have zero reservations.”

Customers have been dining on the Juniper parklet all day, Tracy added.

“Folks have been using it all day today. We couldn’t be more excited and grateful,” she said.

Kelly Wicks, owner of Grounds for Thought, which opened a parklet earlier this week, said that the Kabob It incident was unfortunate.

“But it really isn’t a parklet issue, it’s a traffic safety issue,” Wicks said, adding that the vehicle could have hit another vehicle or the building.

“I’m still very excited about the parklets,” he said. “The parklets themselves are great ideas and we’ve had terrific response.”

On Thursday at 2 p.m. the Grounds parklet was full. It has four tables and can seat up to 16 people.

The installation of the three parklets started Friday.

Located in the parking lane adjacent to the curb, parklets are designed as an extension of the sidewalk. 

The city’s program permits parklets to be in place downtown April through November.