A newly clean and inviting alley is the first step in making Uptown Martinsville more fun place to hang out.
Next will be applications for grants to fill it with seating areas, cool lighting and pretty flowers.
Several volunteers and city employees spent Wednesday morning removing graffiti, leaves and debris, cobwebs and trash from the alley that runs between Walnut and Bridge Streets in the block between East Church and Main Streets.
“This is the first phase of a larger idea,” Uptown Partnership Executive Director Kathy Deacon said. “We would like to activate this alley to use as a public space.”
It’s a start toward making “as many sticky places” in the business district as possible, where people can relax outdoors, Deacon said. They, in turn, would “generate some care” about Uptown and interest in improving it.
Wednesday’s alley clean-up was to “let the community know Uptown Partnership is committed, to make sure revitalization happens even in a small-scale space,” she said.
“It feels like a first quick win for the community, where they can see things” happening, she said.
Martinsville Public Works Director Jeff Gauldin gave UP tools and supplies, including brooms, trash bags, trash grabbers and cleaners, she said. Martinsville police joined her, Natalie Hodge, Beverly Pitzer and Jennifer Reis in cleaning.
Martinsville Police Chief Eddie Cassady, Capt. Jim Minter and officers Coretha Gravely and Willie Warnick’s cleaning included removing graffiti with a special cleaner.
Ricky Hundley of the water department helped get Beverly Pitzer and Natalie Hodge going on a pressure washer to deep clean the pavement, turning it from brown to beige.
“Pressure-washing is much harder than I thought!” Pitzer said. “Holy cow – a lot of muscle that’s needed to do that.”
Deacon is making a list of minor repairs property owners could make in that alley, including replacing rotted trim around doorways and rickety stairs.
UP is accepting donations of money to go toward the costs of a consultant and then items needed to liven up the allies and make them useful, as well as applying for grants, Deacon said. They can be taken to Uptown Partnership at 5 E. Church St. or mailed in.
“I feel like we have to maximize space here, and there’s a lot of space that’s underused,” said Hodge, who lives in an apartment in Uptown.
Martinsville’s goals are in line with other cities, including Roanoke, which have turned their alleys into attractive places to be, she said.
“We have to make things fresh, new, innovative” Uptown, Hodge said.
Holly Kozelsky reports for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org