RHINELANDER - You probably wouldn't consider a dark, smelly alley an ideal place to sit and relax. Maggie Steffen agrees, which is why she's planning to transform an alley on Brown Street in Rhinelander.
Steffen plans to tackle the project in three phases. Phase one is lighting the alley, which sits between The Brick restaurant and Bath and Body Creations. Downtown Rhinelander, Inc. agreed to pay about $2,800 for five LED lights if the city would pay for the electricity.
Monday night, the City Council voted 6 to 1 to pay up to $230 dollars a year for the power. Alderman Steve Sauer was the lone dissenting vote with Sherrie Belliveau absent from the meeting. The city will revisit the plan one year after the lights are installed.
"It needs to be a partnership, they [the city] do not own the alley, but it is for the betterment of the city itself," Steffen said.
Steffen would also like to add a mural, metal archway, benches, and nice pavement in the coming years. Those additions would take a lot more money and are things that won't happen this year, but Steffen says the lights are a good start.
"To have it go as well and people actually buying into the idea and agreeing... I don't want to say a nice surprise, but a welcomed thing to see that I was on the right track and it is a project that should be taken on," Steffen said.
Urgency to light the alley came to a head last month when someone tossed a brick onto a squad car from a rooftop along the alley in late July. Rhinelander police say they often catch people urinating there late at night.
Steffen believes the lights will keep people from vandalizing the alley when it's finished.
"Everyone likes to have a comfortable home to live in and so I'm looking at that alleyway as a comfortable spot in the downtown, so I think they will respect it," Steffen said.
The alley lights will likely go in by this fall.