City, others discussing possible improvements for downtown passages
Published 3:01 am Monday, October 2, 2017
Improving some of the downtown alleys could become a joint venture involving the City of Washington, Washington Harbor District Alliance and private-property owners.
During its Sept. 11 meeting, the City Council and city staff discussed such improvements.
“This was mentioned in the streetscape plan — about the improvement of alleyways. I just want to mention to members of the council that all the alleyways inside the central business district do not belong to the city,” City Manager Bobby Roberson told the council. There’s a series of them — about five or six of them, just as a matter of information — Havens Lane, Ayers Lane, Ward Lane, McClain Lane are all owned by individual property owners. We get comments all the time that we, meaning the city, don’t mind cleaning it up. If we do, we would have to assess those improvements costs against the property owners.”
Roberson said the city is willing to do whatever the council wants in regard to improving the privately owned alleyways. Roberson said the city’s receive comments about the alley “in front of the Turnage Theatre” that leads toward the waterfront.
“The ones (alleys) that we have, we have a person downtown that monitors that. We’ve been working with (Washington Harbor District Alliance) on a regular, routine basis. We’re going to have that schedule, and we’ll present that to you as well,” Roberson said about a time frame for improving alleys the city owns.
“The only comment I’ve gotten is on that alley you were just talking about. I know I have talked with the gentleman who owns Ribeyes, and his customers sometimes have to park on Main Street and the lot in front of the courthouse (and use that alley to reach the steakhouse),” Mayor Mac Hodges said. “He’s asked me about that, and I gave him the same answer you just gave me. There is a need for that one to be (improved).” Hodges said some Ribeyes customers have complained about having to use a dark alley to access the restaurant and the parking areas they use.
“I looked at it after he complained, and it does have a lot of mildew and mold on the sides of that alley. … We do need to look at getting more light in the back half.”
Roberson said the city would be happy to assist with improving the lighting, if the property owners give the city permission to do so.
Ten years ago, the Ayers Lane improvement project was completed. That alley, which runs along the east side of the former McCellan department store, was reconfigured with grant money. That alley was improved before other alleys because it serves as a major corridor connecting the Turnage Theatre complex with the parking lot in front of the Beaufort County Courthouse and the rear of the Turnage complex.