Business and property owners in Homer’s Old Town neighborhood are considering ways to make the area more unified and walkable. Bunnell Street Art Gallery is leading the charge to play up the neighborhood’s culture.
About a dozen people met last Thursday night to focus on what Brianna Allen calls “creative placemaking.” She’s the development coordinator at Bunnell. Allen said the organization has applied for a $125,000 grant from ArtPlace that would be used to help bring artists to Old Town. Each artist could use a different medium to enhance the area.
“The whole idea of our proposal is that we could invite artists here in Old Town to use Old Town as their canvas. And actually allow them to bring some of our concerns as a community… and they will help organize us to alleviate some of these problems,” she said.
She said artists could provide things like murals, street paintings or sculptures. Much of the focus was on the need for more and safer areas for pedestrians. There are no sidewalks on Bunnell Avenue and Allen pointed out there is a healthy amount of traffic driving through the neighborhood.
Executive Director Asia Freeman has been talking with Homer Public Works Director Carey Meyer about what could be done and there are a few options. She mentioned narrowing the roadway to provide a small walkway for people and there was some discussion about a boardwalk. Freeman said improving walkability could lead to heavier traffic in businesses.
“Why shouldn’t we take a leadership approach? And why shouldn’t a nonprofit be the one to bring us all together for the conversation, the vision, and most of all for the organizational efforts,” Freeman said.
She said if Bunnell captures the grant, it could be used as a type of lever to start the process. Maura Brenin of Maura’s Café said it’s important to create an atmosphere in the historic district.
“With more art, more careful planning, more architecture that’s cohesive and a wonderful beach walk, it’s a district. And most waterfront districts usually end up being pedestrian districts,” Brenin said.
She also pointed out the need for an official Old Town Neighborhood association so the group could go to the city as an organized unit with any proposals. Bunnell is one of 19 finalists from across the country for the ArtPlace grant. Allen said they will find out in May if they’ve been awarded the money.