Monett's alleys need Pride and Progress

Friday, February 17, 2012

There's a part of Monett that seldom gets seen. At least it's behind the scenes, not the front door that we tidy up, keep clean and display for the neighbors.

Like a lot of towns, Monett has miles and miles of alleys. They are seen, by the residents who use them to park their cars, and the trash truck crews who gather their loads.

Like a lot of things just out of sight, Monett's alleys represent the shabby edges of the garment. They represent the essence of benign neglect. No one meant to make a mess. It just ended up that way.

There's something to be said for rutted, chunky alleys. Kids aren't likely to go speeding through them. The alleys that have reverted to dirt offer the added ambience of truly living in the country.

Monett has become an exceptional community, because the city government has been willing to reinvest in it. The streets generally look first rate, and the street department has done an excellent job maintaining them. The general infrastructure has remained a high priority.

Because of that, the alleys really stick out. Some alleys have been resurfaced or given new layers of gravel that tend to wash away over time. Mostly the alleys have chip and seal roadways, and they are just plain worn out.

Upgrading the alleys is expensive. It can be comparable to adding half again as many streets to the system. You can get into territorial fights with one side of town claiming preferential treatment for the other side whose alleys get fixed first.

Doing nothing can only go so far. By now, a lot of Monett's alleys look just plain bad and are going to look even worse as time goes on.

Monett city leaders have been vocal about their commitment to Pride and Progress. Indeed, they have done a good job. The alleys are where the work stopped. It's time for that to change.

It's hard to convince property owners to shape up their rundown garages when the dilapidated look fits so well with the alleys next to them.

As Monett's sales tax picks up again, some capital improvement funds need to be set aside to deal with Monett's alleys. It could take a decade to get them all done, a little at a time. For many alleys, it may be five decades or more since they last received attention.

In a new year, a time for new starts, a fresh look is needed at Monett's shabby edges. The time has come.