By Tristan Marks
Pedestrians walking through Downtown Grimsby may notice that the alleyway next to Harmony Jewellers looks a little different, maybe even a lot different.
As of last Friday, the pedestrian access between Main Street and Balsam Lane has been all dressed up with wooden picnic benches, floral arrangements, string lights, colourful posters and more. The pedestrian alley is the brainchild of Kevin Luttjehuizen, owner of Harmony Jewellers.
“I bought this building 15 years ago and since that time, I’ve been trying to envision what this alley could look like,” Luttjehuizen said.
When he was approached by Town of Grimsby Staff about using the space as part of the upcoming ‘Downtown Reimagined’ initiative, Luttjehuizen said he finally had the opportunity to put his ideas into action.
“This is a temporary space for public enjoyment, a place to experience all that Grimsby has to offer,” he said.
Pedestrians can sit at the many benches and picnic tables set up through the alley. There is plenty of room to enjoy take out from Downtown restaurants, the various art pieces and floral arrangements set up around the alley and there will even be free public wifi.
Luttjehuizen said there will also be a free place for downtown merchants to advertise their business. There will be a frame hung near the Main Street opening of the alley on which merchants can advertise.
“Everyone will be able to hang up 8.5” by 11” laminated posters with their business info on it,” he said.
Similarly, the Town has set up a seating area with muskoka chairs just outside of the alley on Main St. Next to it is a poster explaining the ‘Downtown Reimagined’ initiative.
“So far we’ve had nothing but positive feedback,” said Ashley McCallum from the Town of Grimsby staff.
Grimsby Downtown Improvement Area board chair Mike Williscraft agreed.
“It is a win-win project all the way around. Kevin’s initiative dovetails nicely with our DIA visioning exercise undertaken last Fall. That plan was really a possible redesign for after some major renovation work Niagara Region has planned for the core,” said Williscraft.
“This temporary parklet gives us all a chance to see what possibilities may unfold down the road thanks to his efforts. It’s great for downtown.”
Luttjehuizen noted that there was still some work to go to finish the alley as of Friday. He still has plans to install a stage for pop-up entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays.
The public space will remain set up until late fall. Although its current incarnation will be temporary, Luttejehuizen said he plans on making a permanent space later on.
“Long term I see this all in cobblestone with lighting and seating,” he said.
Pedestrians are encouraged to take selfies and post about the space using the hashtag #dtgrimsbycourtyard. They can also weigh in with their ideas about reimagining Downtown Grimsby’s public spaces by using the hashtag #letstalkdowntown. Letstalkgrimsby.ca will also feature a ‘Lets Talk Downtown’ page for online discussions.
Merchants wishing to adertise their business on the community board can email: firstname.lastname@example.org