Albemarle council to soon decide on formal name of downtown alleyway project

Despite the many years of discussions regarding the alleyway project that will help transform downtown Albemarle, it has never been formally named.

It has been referred to by many temporary names during council meetings, including the King Alleyway and the Falcon Alleyway, but nothing has stuck.

That could soon change.

After soliciting input from the public, more than 60 names have been suggested. They include Albemarle Alleyway, City Square Plaza, John Stanly Way, Court House Alley, Gene Starnes Alley, The Gathering Spot and Wiscassett Way.

“I am thrilled that when we put it out there, we had this many come in,” Mayor Pro Tem Martha Sue Hall said.

During its meeting Monday night, the council agreed that each member would submit their top three choices to David Fath, the city’s public information officer, by the end of the week.

Councilman Chris Bramlett suggested that the best name would be one that is short and historical. He advocated for Courthouse Plaza while others, including Mayor Ronnie Michael and Hall, expressed support for some variation of Hitching Post Alley.

The alleyway, which stretches from West Main Street to King Street, will become a pedestrian plaza with seating for outdoor dining and casual gathering. It will include overhead string lighting and decorative poles and green space, including planters that can be adjusted for the seasons.

The council awarded NJR Group, a construction company based in New London, the bid to complete construction of the alleyway during its Feb. 20 meeting. NJR Group came in at the lowest bid of $837,595, which is a revised amount from the company’s original bid in 2021.

The council had already approved utilizing $350,000 from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to go along with the $547,000 already in the project budget.

The total budget will be a little more than $1 million, which includes $98,000 previously funded from the city’s General Fund, $97,450 previously funded from the city’s Electric Fund and $5,000 from private grants, most notably through Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation.