The alleyways initiative is related to the Muncie Action Plan (MAP) Initiative 4, which is a series of actions meant to support the creation of attractive and desirable places in Muncie. Alleyway improvements can help Thomas Park/Avondale (TPA) create more attractive and desirable places by creating safer and more efficient alleyways for public use. Aspects of this alleyways initiative also contribute to the Muncie Action Plan Initiative 5 Action 6, which is an action supporting the implementation of a model of sustainable design around the city. This could apply in TPA if rain gardens were incorporated into yards along alleyways which would support sustainability.
Figure 1: Alleyway with lights and rain gardens.
Residents created this initiative based on resident feedback during a brainstorming session at the Thomas Park/Avondale Neighborhood Association meeting held on February 3rd, 2016.
Alleys are an important but often forgotten aspect of neighborhoods. Alleyways currently have issues including a lack of paving and lights which makes alleys difficult to use and increases the potential for crime. Alleyways in TPA can be improved to provide more safety and functionality.
Alley Street Improvements and Paving
The City of Muncie Street Department is in charge of repairing, repaving, and filling in potholes in alleyways. Contact information for the street department can be found below. The Street Department is part of the Department of Public Works which can be found at 5790 West Kilgore Avenue Muncie, IN 47304. They are open Monday through Friday from 7am to 3pm.
- Street Department
The Street Department handles many areas of maintenance and repair. Call the Department to report street surface problems, potholes, sunken areas, cracks, snow removal needs, ice removal needs, or sweeping.The Street Department is also responsible for handling requests for grading parking areas on unimproved streets, and alley vegetation trimming.
- Building Commissioner
Call with complaints regarding dirt, mud, or other debris on the streets or sidewalks.
Alleyway Lighting Issues
Light is a major issue for alleys when improving safety and comfort. Lighting can be added by property owners along alleys to improve the alley for everyone. If possible, existing lights along alleys should be left on at night and new lights installed. Lighting can include interesting lights such as uplights, which shine on buildings, trail lights near the ground, or hanging lights between two buildings.
Public Street Lights
Concerns regarding the repair for public streetlights can be directed to the City using the this form:
General Public Street Light Issues
Concerns regarding streetlights should be directed to the Department of Public Works, which is located at 5790 West Kilgore Avenue, Muncie IN 47304 and can be reached at:(765)-747-4847
Privately Owned Lighting Along Alleys
Property owners can help contribute to safer alleys by putting in their own lights along the alley or by simply leaving on currently installed lights. There are many creative and low-cost options for lighting that residents can install. If lighting needs cannot be met, then residents may wish to contact the City Public Works Department for information about public light installation. However, funding is not always available for such initiatives, making privately owned lights by property owners especially important.
Additional Alleyway Opportunities
Alleyways can become interesting spaces for the community, and increased use in alleys can make them safer and more comfortable. Many of these improvements are dependent on property owners and not the city. Potential ideas may include:
- A naming rights program can support funding for alleyway improvements
- Installation of light colored pavement can help reduce the urban heat island effect, or when urban areas are hotter than other areas. Light colored pavement will absorb less heat and reflect the sun reducing the urban heat island effect.
- Permeable pavement can help manage stormwater in alleyways as permeable pavement allows water to seep into the ground instead of becoming standing water. If repair on an alleyway is planned, residents may be able to request permeable pavement in their alley. For example, residents in Detroit used fundraising efforts to support green, permeable surfaces in their neighborhood alleyways (as discussed in the case study below).
- Increasing visibility:
- Visibility between property owners and alleys can make alleys safer by increasing the number of eyes on the street.
- Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) can provide housing along alleys while also increasing eyes on the street (or alley in this case). ADUs must be approved by the City of Muncie Board of Zoning Appeals before they can be built.
- Removal of tall grass, weeds and trash improves sight lines.
- Spend time in your backyard
- Rain gardens:
- Rain gardens are plantings that are placed in wet areas of residents’ yards that help absorb stormwater. These are not only beautiful, but by absorbing storm water, they also reduce damage to alley surfaces and can even reduce mud.
- Before digging a rain garden, be sure to call utilities to ensure that the digging is safe.
- Rain gardens are easy to plant and instructions can be found in the rain garden source at the end of this document.
- Graffiti removal:
- Property owners can discourage graffiti by removing it quickly.
- Organize community cleanups
This initiative could be handled by any member of the community. There is no specific timeline for this initiative, but alleys in the worst conditions and alleys with accessibility issues should be prioritized. Many aspects of alleyway improvements will be handled in residents’ own backyards, so property owners can work on this whenever is convenient for them.
An alleyway in Detroit, Michigan, was turned into a “green alley” when residents raised money for its remodel. Permeable surfaces were used to allow stormwater to drain into the ground instead of running off and causing urban flooding. Low-lying plants were planted along the edges of the alleyway, which supported beautification efforts and improved stormwater management since these can absorb stormwater. This alleyway became not only a more attractive space, but better stormwater management also helps protect nearby buildings.
Figure 2: Source: Detroit Green Alley
The following map shows the location of alleys in Thomas Park / Avondale.
Department of Community Development
300 N. High St. City Hall
Muncie, IN 47305-1639
Phone: (765) 747-4825
Fax: (765) 747-4898
Contact: Terry Whitt Bailey, Director
Additional websites of interest
Patron City. “Detroit Green Alley.” https://www.patronicity.com/project/greenalley