Saturday, May 13, 2017

Dangerous, unhealthy alleys: Clean them up, reduce crime, make them a community asset for almost no money? Impossible?

This blog post is about ways a neighborhood can reclaim a dangerous, unsafe, and under-utilized alleyway in the City of Lake Worth. However, prior to making any changes to an alley you must contact the City first. Why? That is explained below.

So, is it impossible for a neighborhood to make an alleyway a community “backyard”? Try telling that to a creative group of people in Seattle who are reclaiming their alleys and making the community safer. Here is an excerpt from the article:

     [Todd] Vogel started with a small poetry reading. Sixty people showed up. It was the first in a series of events that included music performances, readings, cat adoptions, circus acts, and doggy costume parties. A few neighbors had liked the idea and helped orchestrate the first events. Soon, nearby business owners began to contribute as well. Windows that were previously boarded up were now open, a cinder block wall that blocked a doorway was removed, and neighbors put in planters and contributed to the upkeep. [emphasis added]
     “If you treat it as a place where nobody goes, then you’re inviting illicit activity and you’re inviting people not to respect it” said Vogel, who noted seeing changes in his ”backyard.” “The healthy activity meant that the unhealthy activity was self-policing.”

Seems like a worthy experiment for our Downtown and other neighborhoods in Lake Worth, doesn’t it?

However, prior to “reclaiming” an alley nearby you need to contact someone such as your City commissioner for advice or maybe someone at the Neighborhood Assoc. Presidents’ Council (commonly called the “NAPC). The vast number of alleys in the City of Lake Worth are owned by the City and it’s crucial to keep these alleys accessible for power line maintenance, clearing of vegetation, and in case of emergency situations as well.

So permanent structures will most likely not be permitted.

To find out what an easement is, the City’s responsibility and a citizen’s responsibility vis-à-vis an alley, and for a helpful Q&A use this link for the article titled, “Alleyways — The City’s Roadway to Utility Services”.

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