On Tuesday, October 14, a number of residents met to discuss transforming our alleys into safe, enjoyable spaces for the community. Before exploring current ideas, we briefly discussed the results of the alley satisfaction survey conducted in 2012. Seventy five percent of survey respondents expressed some level of dissatisfaction with the alleys. These respondents also identified overgrowth, crime, pavement issues, and poor visibility and lighting as the main reasons for this dissatisfaction. When asked what might be done with these overgrown spaces, the most popular idea was to turn them into a green space with a paved walking and biking path. Some survey respondents were also interested in trying to absorb alleys into existing homeowner property if possible.
With these results in mind, we opened the discussion of how to approach transforming our alleys. Meeting attendees had three main concerns for the project. First, any new plans would need to be sustainable and easy to maintain. Second, if one alley was chosen as a pilot for this project, it would be necessary for a large percentage of residents on that block to approve the plans. Lastly, plans would need to fit the space available; for example, a garden would be a poor choice for an area with little to no sunlight. We also fielded a number of exciting suggestions for the project. Several attendees discussed the importance of choosing pavement over gravel or sand surfaces both for ease of use and maintenance. Others suggested using a number of different ideas on a single alley so that some areas could be garden space while others could
house outdoor art or involve local businesses to create unique spaces. Alley sponsorship by area businesses or block clubs also sounded promising, and one attendee suggested we name the alleys as a way to foster ownership and pride in the space.
As you can see, we had a lot of great ideas but it doesn’t end here! If you have an alley behind your house, we encourage you to (safely) take a look and consider what YOUR alley needs to be a fun, useful space for you and your family. Here at the CYCA, we hope to continue moving forward with this project, and we want our residents to be happy and excited about planning this great new endeavor. Whether you rent or own, your ideas and input are a valuable part of this process. If you come up with something, shoot us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), give us a call (901-272-2922), or stop by and chat at our office (2298 Young Avenue). We will also need volunteers for every step of the way so if you love landscaping, have an idea for some outdoor art, or like to get outdoors and do some good old fashioned manual labor, we want to hear from you! As always, we’ll keep you updated on any developments here and at our website, cooperyoung.org. — Kristen Schebler