Heard of the Block 93 Alley Project? Maybe you have, but it has probably been a while.
Several years ago a group of Montrose residents, elected officials and citizens, came up with a project to utilize several of the city’s downtown alleys. The overview of the plan was announced in summer 2020 with the vision of transforming an alleyway into a pedestrian-friendly, aesthetically pleasing thoroughfare.
The alley is located on the northeast corner of Main Street and Townsend Avenue, and the aim is to make it a community amenity that could also activate the alley into a welcoming commercial/retail space and a safe haven for citizens and patrons.
The aesthetic portion of the project as of now, according to the city, is on hold.
Alleyways, originally designated to be utilitarian, hold the hidden potential to contribute to the walkability and vitality of downtown and become some of the most interesting spaces in the core of our community.
The Block 93 Alley Project looks to incorporate street lights, special paving, furnishings, planters, sculpture, murals and other design elements to make the area feel safe and inviting.
Much has been (and has not been happening) since the birth of the 93 Alley Project.
Visiting the alley in question, you may find very little that would designate this space as a core of the downtown community.
“Not a lot has been done,” said Montrose City Council member Dave Frank. “We ran into some snags.”
Among those snags, the sewer system along the entire alley from Cascade to the Auto Parts Store totally collapsed, Frank said. You may have seen construction work in and along the alley related to the sewer. The city has gone in and done some stabilization work.
“We have to have a plan because there are viable businesses operating there,” Frank said. “We have to have trash pickup, and we have to have deliveries for the stores.”
Frank said the city has since tried to get the project right and going.
“We went through that phase where we were working hard to move the project forward,” he said. “We were getting full buy-in from one or two businesses.
The city, Frank said, really wanted to move forward after the sewer was stabilized. Frank suggested that the organizers and the city attempt to complete the project as intelligently and as fiscally conservative as possible.
“This will be the big year for improvements as we will start to do the underground work,” said William Woody, public information officer for the city.
The city contracted with DHM Design, a firm hired to do the design work for the project.
“We have basic design schemes in place with a few different options, so it really has come down to us choosing what we want to do,” Frank said. “It also has to do with available funding. The plan was to use unexpended general funds to utilize for this project. We don’t have a (Downtown Development Authority), but we do have a business group that donates to a fund that can be used for these types of projects.”
The project is not dead. It is just not very alive at the moment.
According to the councilman the sewer will need to be repaired before the rest of the project can proceed. This will take some time and additional planning and an influx of funds to move forward with the Block 93 Alley Project.
Cliff Dodge is a freelance
writer for the Montrose