Updated: Nov 14, 2020
Louisville art, nature, and wildlife are being revitalized in a West Buechel neighborhood through efforts of a local community.
Illegal dumping, drug use, vandalism, and neglect had led an alley in West Buechel between Goldsmith Lane and Wingate by Wyndham Hotel to be dangerous and uninviting to nearby residents and passerby. However, the area has recently begun to be enlivened by the local community through donations of art, supplies, and the introduction of biodiversity to the surrounding environment.
Jody Dahmer & Mariah Corso, local residents, have plans to help capitalize on the local community's assets, inspiration, and potential with the intention of creating a public space that promotes people's health, happiness, and well being. The alley is being rejuvenated to be more inviting to pedestrian use, slow the speed of vehicles, and create a safer place for residents of all ages to enjoy.
Where are parents and children going to go to enjoy themselves if there is no peaceful and safe place within walking distance? The alley is a solution to bring art, recreation, and a more livable neighborhood to the residents within our community.
The alley behind Kemmons Street originates in the parking lot of the Wyndham Hotel and stretches east to Goldsmith lane for a distance of .14 miles or ~765 ft. A chain-link and wooden fence encircles the hotel parking lot, with a border of trees and small shrubs. On the south side is a brick wall that was at one time the supporting wall for a carport running the extent of the alley, with intermittent windows and doorways for the easy passage of residents in the apartments bordering Kemmons Street.
Due to the alley being privately owned by many different individuals and businesses, it had fallen into neglect. Negative activities such as illegal dumping and littering, drug sales and use, vandalism, and theft occurring in the hotel parking lot and alley has left residents fearful to even park in the area. Cracking pavement and severe erosion of the asphalt in numerous places as well as invasive honeysuckle had overtaken many native plants and trees due to the neglect.
We hope to decrease crime and transform the area into a more welcoming space. By making the alley engaging and safe, more residents will begin to patrol the alley by walking their dogs or visiting the art installations. Additionally, cars using the alley as a thoroughfare between the hotel parking lot and Goldsmith will be greeted by many different pieces of art to enjoy.
Steps the community has taken to improve the environment around the alley so far include picking up litter and abandoned property, disposing of hazardous materials such as drug paraphernalia and syringes, towing an abandoned truck, as well as trimming overgrown trees and shrubs, clearing away invasive honeysuckle, and seeding wildflowers and trees native to the area. The Wyndham Hotel has helped by installing a light pole to increase visibility near the parking lot, and solar powered motion detector lights have been installed along the alley by residents so the scene can still be enjoyed after dark.
Locals continue to clean up as well as drop off furniture and art to be displayed in the alley in an effort to revitalize the area. An observable increase in the diversity of wildlife and nature as well as a decrease in previous negative activities has led to a notable impact on the community in just three months.
From our initial meeting with the Wyndham Hotel in March, the light pole was installed at the end of May and we are well on our way to having over 50 separate pieces of art donated from local residents.
People of all ages have donated all kinds of art such as drawings, sketches, comics, paintings, coloring book pages, and sculptures! Many of the installations have been recycled from abandoned junk found in the alley, and can be interacted with in numerous ways. Plans for multiple murals along the fence of the hotel as well as walls within the alley are currently being designed, and donations from the community continue to be made daily.
As I traveled throughout Taiwan, I noticed pedestrians of all ages and demographics traversing the colorful and diverse alleys and markets. Having grown up in Louisville, we need to acknowledge how isolating the suburbs are to those that don’t have vehicles.
Jody, Mariah, and the rest of community have high hopes for the future of the alley and surrounding area, and are delighted by the impact their efforts continue to have.
The speed at which all of this has taken place is astounding. [The alley] has art, it has nature right outside our backdoor; we want to have the community be the ones to bring the space to life.
Since this project relies solely on donations of artwork and to limit unnecessary overhead costs, we’ve decided to undertake this project in a series of phases over the course of 2019.
If you have a piece of art, outdoor furniture, or want to help out in another way, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message to our Facebook page. Keep up to date with Kentucky Alley Art Project and the Kemmons Alley Initiative by following Beargrass Thunder on social media, as well as subscribing to our email list below to be notified when new content is posted.