COLUMBIA – Downtown's Alley A is about to become off-limits to cars and trucks.
An ordinance to install two decorative bollards (posts) at the east and west ends of the alley to make it more pedestrian-friendly was approved unanimously by the City Council during its Monday night meeting.
Alley A is a half block south of Broadway between Ninth and Tenth streets. About 10 feet wide, the alley is home to apartments and several businesses.
The ordinance is an amendment to the Alley A Right of Use Agreement that was endorsed by the City Council on Aug. 15, according to a memo to the council from Community Development Director Tim Teddy. The original agreement granted permission to Alley A property owners to install storm water infrastructure and paving.
The owners of Alley A businesses asked the council for the ordinance.
Jim Peckham, manager of Good Nature, which fronts the alley, said the ordinance is good and he looks forward to having Alley A reserved for pedestrians. He said cars driving through the alley pose a potential danger.
“Cars drive way too fast," he said. "I've seen cars driving at 50 miles. People could die or get hit."
Art Wuttisak, manager of Kampai Sushi Bar & Restaurant, has the same concern.
"The alley is too small. If you drive fast, it's hard to see cars coming from the private alley," he said, referring to a smaller alley that runs perpendicular to Alley A.
Peckham said the bollards also will be good because they will stop vehicles from parking in the alley for hours and make it more convenient for customers and residents to walk through.
In addition, he said, heavy traffic is destroying the road surface. He pointed to a two-foot-long crack on the alley outside his front door.
He concluded that making Alley A pedestrian-only is “what it was designed for and what it should be.”
The Downtown Community Improvement District, which has offices at the east end of Alley A, also supports the ordinance, executive director Carrie Gartner said.
“There's so much going on in the alley, residence, cafe. It makes more sense to keep it a sidewalk," Gartner said.
Derek Garrett, manager of Jock's Nitch Locker Room at the west end of the alley, said his only concern is having to bring merchandise into his business through the front door. He has been using the alley to drop stuff off at the back door since he opened in October.
The bollards will be removable or collapsible so emergency or service vehicles can access the alley when necessary. Emergency responders will have access to keys that will be stored in two lock boxes at each end of the alley, City Manager Mike Matthes explained on the meeting.
Alley A businesses will pay to install and maintain the bollards. The city, however, might have to pay for signs at the alley's entrances.