COLUMBIA — Most downtown business owners would welcome more traffic by their storefronts, but Tony Grove is hoping for the exact opposite.
Grove, co-owner of Grove Construction and owner of Evorg Properties, wants the Columbia City Council to make Alley A more pedestrian-friendly by prohibiting cars and trucks from driving through it. The alley, half a block south of Broadway, is home to apartments and several businesses, including a sushi restaurant.
The property owners of businesses between Ninth and Tenth streets and the city have joined to spruce up the alley, which now includes decorative pavement, storefronts and apartment entrances.
Grove said he wants to protect pedestrians.
"It’s not like it’s a huge safety concern, but it’s something that could potentially come through," Grove said. "I’ve seen cars come at a fairly high rate of speed."
Bob Grove, also of Grove Construction, wrote a letter to city Planning and Development Director Tim Teddy in mid-August requesting that the city prohibit all vehicles except emergency responders from driving in the alley.
At Tuesday's meeting, the council accepted Teddy's report and gave the go-ahead for drafting the legislation. The report states the alley could be made pedestrian only by installing decorative, collapsible barriers. Tony Grove said the Alley A Association would pay for the bollards, though the report notes the city might need to pay for some signs.
Columbia resident Claudia Brown used to work at a business that backed up to a nearby alley. She said employees consistently experienced problems with parked cars blocking exits. Brown said making Alley A off limits to vehicles might make things easier on business patrons.
"The question is if the businesses will have spots for deliveries," she said.
This concern is echoed in Teddy's report, which states that although the alley might become more inviting for pedestrians, it could obstruct delivery and other service vehicles' movements.