Work resumes on East Alley Project

After delays caused by early winter and pandemic, progress being made in downtown pocket park

Members of the Three Rivers DDA Design Committee, Three Rivers Department of Public Services, Three Rivers Improvement Movement, and local volunteers recently made some headway on a downtown placemaking project.

Late last week two stages of the Downtown East Alley Project were completed, and the parking ramp walkthrough continues to progress toward its final form. Downtown patrons may notice new “pinwheel” style wooden benches, as well as new landscaping. DPS installed the new benches on Thursday, and Jason Ballew, the design committee’s expert gardener, led the way on new landscaping for the alley. 

Ballew, who is finishing his Master Gardener Program at MSU, joined the committee last fall and has brought a level of expertise to the committee. In addition to the East Alley, you can see some of his work-in-progress in the rain garden portion on the lower level of the Mural Mall. 

The committee feels safe to work in small groups of 10 or less on outdoor projects downtown, and are working hard to play catch-up after being unable to work for so long. TRDDA Executive Director Tricia Meyer and Mary O’Conner will also be planting flowers in the large flower pots on the downtown sidewalks next week. Committee Chair Michael Hogoboom noted the alley isn’t currently lit up as it usually is because “the lightbulbs we had ordered tripped the circuit, and we found that they have water inside of them, which is why they are off.” But fear not, replacement bulbs have been sent, and will be changed in short order.

“At our June meeting, we decided we were ready to start working in small groups. The Mural Mall has a great new selection of plantings, and the East Alley is looking great as well,” Hogoboom said. 

“A special shout-out to Colin Monroe [a member of the committee] for bringing his tractor so we could pull out the bushes, and Mike Curtis and Lisa Devine of TRIM for help with planting and also bringing their gator to haul the rocks and excess soil to the old public beach —where they will be re-purposed. Really, there was a lot of effort by everyone. Colin, Mike, Lisa, Amy Mitchell, Dawn Campbell, Tara Adams, and Jason Ballew; we got a lot of work done on Friday.”

With the project is near the halfway point, the next steps include a stage in the East corner, the installation of eight large paintings, two pieces of metal art, a sign, and the purchase of bistro-style seating that can be used during downtown events. Originally the project completion date was set for September 1, 2020, but the MEDC has allowed for an extension due to the COVID-19 Crisis.

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