By Kristan Huntley
The alleys in Cooper-Young are a longstanding feature of the community that have served many purposes over the years, from garage access to utility service to walking paths. Currently, most alleys are constricted by overgrowth, impassible, and sometimes viewed as unsafe. All of this is despite quarterly clean up efforts by neighborhood volunteers and community service workers. Anyone who has helped at one of the quarterly clean ups that focused on alleys knows how hard that alley clearing is (and often itchy because of poison oak and ivy).
In order to properly address the current state of the alleys and plan for their long-term upkeep and usage, information from CY residents needs to be gathered.
The Cooper-Young Community Association has been awarded a small 2011 Strengthening Communities grant by the Community Foundation and the University of Memphis to research perceptions of safety, alternative means of maintenance, and additional proposed uses from you, the Cooper-Young residents, along with stakeholders including local businesses, Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW), and Memphis Police.
There are three research goals:
1. Determine current perceptions of alleys, community safety, and the role each plays in those perceptions.
2. Evaluate community buy-in to the current alley maintenance plan and its perceived effectiveness.
3. Gather alternative ideas of upkeep and usage.
This is where you come in. Cooper-Young residents have never been shy about sharing their opinions. In the upcoming month, you will be receiving a survey, either in paper or digital form, from the CYCA asking about your views of the current state of the alleys, how you envision their future, and how they can be improved to increase safety and decrease frequent maintenance. We need to have as many residents as possible respond to make sure that all interested parties are involved and informed. We want this research project to pave the way for a larger future project that benefits Cooper-Young.
We will also be forming two smaller focus groups so that we can have more in-depth discussion about the alleys and their future. If you are interested in participating in one of these focus groups, or have any questions, concerns, or ideas, please email Kristan at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 901-272-2922. Let’s find a way to make the alleys safe and beneficial now and for the future.