Art Alley upgrades, pedestrian safety and facade improvement were the top suggestions Tuesday as the Downtown Business Improvement District  board solicited ideas for their next downtown improvement project.

Most of the 30 or so people who attended were downtown property owners. And while turnout was lower than expected, those who came to the meeting had clear ideas about how the BID board should spend the approximately $175,000 per year that is generated by a special tax on downtown property once that money becomes available in 2014.

Downtown building owner Lee Geiger suggested the BID board "take control of Art Alley," which he said had degenerated into "Graffiti Alley."

"We need a permitting system," he said, to regulate what's painted there. "Tagging is the lowest form of graffiti, and that's what we have back there."

James Taylor, who owns 603 St. Joe, suggested adding lights and cameras and establishing a curfew in Art Alley to improve security.

Elks Theatre owner Curt Small believes pedestrian safety should be top priority.

Small suggested "traffic calming" measures, such as raised crosswalks and "pedestrian scrambles" that allow all pedestrians to cross an intersection at once.

Helping property owners improve their building facades was mentioned, too. So were historic lighting, wifi access and beautification.

Several people said the BID board, whose first project was Main Street Square, needs to make improvements that will benefit businesses in Zone 2, which surrounds the downtown core.

"Art Alley does not affect me one bit," said Aida Compton, who owns Bully Blends at 908 Main St.

Meeting facilitator Ginny Nelson noted that the group was looking for clear leadership from the BID board in working with the city and other entities to address concerns about traffic and Art Alley.

The BID board, which meets at 4 p.m. Thursday, plans to select a project by spring and present its plan to the city council by June. 


Contact Heidi Bell Gease at 394-8419 or


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