The Denison City Council will take more time to consider a request to officially name several of the city’s downtown alleyways. The effort to formally name the alleyways corresponds with ongoing plans to improve the streetscape of downtown Denison.
The request was initially included in the city’s consent agenda, which represents routine common items that are acted upon in one motion without individual discussion. However, the item was pulled from the consent agenda during Tuesday’s meeting by members of the council, tabled and sent back to the Main Street Advisory Board for further review.
“I love it, I think the committee did a great job,” Council Member Kris Spiegel said. “The only thing we wanted to do was take one more look at it before it is put in stone and basically capture all the history of the city.”
The request called for the renaming of four alleys to be named after their historical importance to the city. As an example, the alley between Chestnut and Crawford proposed to be named Skiddy Alley and the area between Woodard and Main renamed Depot Alley.
Spiegel said this was his first look at the proposed names, and he was not involved with the process by the Main Street Advisory Board.
Main Street Advisory Donna Dow said she believes the move by the council symbolizes a desire to reevaluate the names that are being used. However, she ultimately believes that the renaming effort will be successful, even with different names than originally proposed.
The advisory board is expected to meet on Jan. 29, with the council expected to reconsider the request on Feb. 18.
“I think we will come up with something they can support by then,” Dow said.
Dow said the effort to rename the alleys comes as one of the early steps in city efforts to revitalize downtown, primarily along Main Street. The plans, dubbed “Designing Downtown Denison,” date back to 2016 and include a multi-million dollar, multi-phase rebuild of Main Street complete with a new streetscape.
The plans also include work to revitalize the neighboring alleyways to support expected growth and traffic in the area. City Manager Jud Rex said these plans include new lighting, public art and potential rear entrances for main of the downtown businesses.
“The biggest part will be to completely redo and pave the alleyways,” Rex said.
The city hopes that these efforts will increase livability and walkability for downtown while also alleviating some of the negative perceptions of Denison’s alleyways.
Early concept art for the project by the Toole Design Group showed dedicated pedestrian routes through the alleys along with outdoor seating and patio space.
With the expected increase in traffic, Dow said it is important to give these alleys an official name so that people will be able to identify the places for directions and other events.
“We imagine that we could do something like a scavenger hunt and would need a way to direct people to those locations,” Dow said.
Other potential activities in the alley space could include things like block parties and gatherings for local businesses, but Dow said it could be as simple as two neighbors meeting while out for a walk.