Since its inception the Marshalltown Central Business District has worked on various projects to advance downtown - its recent proposal to transform an alley into a pedestrian walkway is the latest example.
While the beautification and safety effort is admirable, it also serves another purpose of bringing attention to ample parking in downtown Marshalltown.
Perhaps the largest complaint the CBD hears is that there is not enough parking, however, there are in fact 13 public parking lots downtown. This pedestrian alley between Apgar Photography and Fiddle & Whistle Irish Pub on Main Street would make a lot behind the businesses more readily accessible.
Beyond its function, this is exactly the project Marshalltown needs to continue to impress visitors and residents. It falls in line with an ideal to make downtown a destination.
As with many businesses, we often hear from visitors what a beautiful downtown we have here in Marshalltown. The flower berms, banners and trash receptacles that the CBD funds and maintains through volunteer work are prime examples of small touches that make an impression.
However, we think a pedestrian walkway would not only impress those visiting downtown, it would follow a developing trend for Main Streets in which people are spending more time in their downtowns. Creating an artistic yet functional walkway suggests we want people to socialize and linger in our downtown - and we do.
A possible grant to feature lighting in the alley would implement an idea lauded by the Marshalltown Police Department. Providing more lighting is a concrete way to deter crime.
The $50,000 project will be funded by grants and private donations. The CBD is not requesting city money for the project, just permission to close the alley. The CBD has also agreed to provide volunteers to keep the walkway clean and clear of snow.
With the CBD membership in favor of this project, and many avenues in place to provide funding, we encourage the city to close the alley and allow for its growth in this new and exciting manner.
The Central Business District is being proactive on this project and trying to do things to make our downtown even better. That's an idea we support.