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Alley Activation Project

In my community on the west side of Detroit, we are working to transform our residential alleyway into an internal neighborhood greenway.

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Photo of Korey Batey

Mackenzie Fankell 
 
I look forward to attending the next community working sessions to share my experiences and challenges working in my community. Currently in our neighborhood, there are no designated bike lanes for residents to commute throughout our community, however, there are several major developments currently happening that will address this issue. Many residents that walk have already begun to create shortcuts in our community using vacant lots and the alley to travel about in areas where there is poor lighting or no sideways available. The number of homes that are also left open causes a huge concern for females, Elderly and children walkers in our community.

The biggest obstacle to the health and wellness of the neighborhood is the current conditions of the homes. Due to the amount of overgrowth, trash, and illegal dumping in our alleyways many homeowners experienced longer power outage times, radiants issues, and flooding which later creates mold. This problem is amplified when the number of vacant homes in the community increase and no dollars is available to demo the properties or make improvements.

We are also piloting a timesharing platform called YING SKILL SHARING which allows us to assist our neighbors with skills and labor at no cost. This platform collects information from each resident of the skills they are willing to donate to our community as well as the services they would request from our community.

We utilize this information to connect neighbors with each other based on skills and needs to create long-lasting business relationships amougst those who live in our community. Increasing civic engagement and promoting entrepreneurship is what would allow are residents a healthier and more comfortable life here in the city of Detroit.

Photo of Mackenzie Fankell

Korey Batey This is all really good information. Thank you! Please invite anyone else who is interested to the community working sessions! The more feedback the better!

Photo of Perry MacNeille

Maybe the ad-hoc trails people make are natural transportation routes in your community. I think a time honored approach to such routes is to improve them, making them easier and more enjoyable to travel as well as opening them to new modes of transportation like wheel chairs and walkers.

Photo of Korey Batey

Mackenzie Fankell Thank you for reaching back out to me on this subject. We are currently piloting the Alley Activation Project with the Prairie Street Block Club on Detroit west side. Our first objective was to help this community to establish a block club so that a voice for all of the homeowners in our target area could be voiced. This also helps us to gain the rights to the alley space which is privately owned by the homeowners. It is our intent to help connect the Prairie Street Block Club to the Joe Louis Greenway Project, a 30 mile walkable/bikeable trail, set to be built by 2021. Alleys have been unused space and now are used for illegal dumping and posses numerous health issues to our environment. This project promotes health and wellness, community stewardship, and civic engagement amongst neighbors.

Photo of Mackenzie Fankell

Korey Batey  Thank you for your response! It would be great if you could come to at least one of the community working sessions to share your experiences. The next one is on Tuesday, July 30th. I also recommend that you stick around for the Propose Phase of the challenge.

It sounds like the the major issues that you are trying to address are to make the neighborhoods safer and healthier for residents while getting people more involved in the community. How do people walk or bike around the neighborhoods currently? What are the biggest obstacles that you see to health and wellness of these neighborhoods? Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

Photo of Korey Batey

Hey, @Mackenzie Fankell I wanted to confirm that the workshop is on the 31st of July or the 30th? The website and what you wrote me wasnt adding up

Photo of Mackenzie Fankell

Hi Korey Batey , sorry for the late reply!!! The workshop was originally the 30th but it was moved to the 31st. I hope that you can make it tomorrow! :)

Photo of Korey Batey

Perry MacNeille 
Thank you so much for that response and we have been stating that same information to our residents and community leaders throughout the city of Detroit. We are currently speaking with the University of Michigan to assist us with the study of the plants and fruit that is growing in the alley so that it could be incorporated in our trails. Keeping in mind the current conditions your idea of eliminating the poles makes perfect sense and running everything underground. We deal with a lot of power outage as well in this community and that plan prevents that. Although good thing to remember is that residents in Detroit own the alleys in most cases so dealing with this space requires a lot of community engagement and understanding. We are also looking at how this space could enhance the neighborhood branding and reintroduce art back in our communities.

Photo of Perry MacNeille

Alleys could provide good access for lightweight auto-rickshaws and other neighborhood transit. Most properties are graded with the house at the highest point and water drains into the street in front (over the sidewalk) and into the alley in back. A lot of the underground drains have not been maintained and are damaged and pavement is often in very bad shape. Utility poles run through the alley, but usually the structures have access to utilities from the street.

Removal of the utility poles and cracked concrete is an immediate improvement. If the alley is repaved with pervious concrete slabs runoff can be absorbed by the soil. Trees and rain gardens can replace the utility poles for the benefits of a natural environment that further absorbs runoff to prevent flooding.

If at a later time the alley is needed for utilities the pervious concrete slabs can be lifted, utility lines buried underneath and the concrete slabs reset in place. If one slab breaks, it can be replaced without pouring new concrete. If a new development is built and the alley no longer needed the slabs are removed and used for a new alley somewhere else.

Pervious concrete slabs: http://www.percoausa.com/

Photo of Mackenzie Fankell

Adrian Laurenzi this might be something that you are interested in.

Photo of Mackenzie Fankell

Korey Batey  Thank you for your post! I am a Michigan Central Station Challenge facilitator. The videos that you posted were very interesting. What kind of changes are necessary to transform an alley into a neighborhood greenway? What kinds of transportation or mobility issues did your neighborhood have before you started the project? Has your project helped people to get around more safely or effectively? Thank you for the great work you do! I look forward to hearing from you.

Photo of Elizabeth Durden

Hello Korey, I love your idea nothing looks worse than an area that is littered with debris and items that have been disgarded, because someone didn't care where they dumped them. I have contact information for an organization I partner with frequently to do just what you want to do. They have resources and volunteers that will come out to the spaces you select and beautify them by planting sustainable shrubs, flowers and other greenery. Contact (KDB) Keep Detroit Beautiful 5700 Russell St. 313-876-0140. Often how we look determines how we are treated by others and how we feel about ourselves, well it is the same with how our homes, streets and yes our alleys look too.....I would love to volunteer for your Alleyways Transformation Project. Please keep me updated on your Project. Thank you.....liz