gourmet alley downtown gilroy fourth fifth street
Gourmet Alley between Fifth and Fourth streets is shown in downtown Gilroy. Photo: Erik Chalhoub
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Gilroy officials say a major grant the city received from the state will go a long way toward bringing downtown’s alleyways to life.

On March 4, the City of Gilroy announced that it had received a $3.9 million grant from the California Department of Transportation’s Clean California Local Grant Program.

The funds will be used to improve the Gourmet and Railroad alleys between Fourth and Seventh streets, adding lighting, benches, garbage enclosures, bicycle and pedestrian markings, signage and more. The grant will also help launch the “Keep Gilroy Clean” campaign, raising awareness through social media on how to properly dispose of trash and host cleanup days and free dumping days for the public.

Mayor Marie Blankley said Gilroy was one of 105 projects that were awarded out of 329 applications statewide. Gilroy was also the only city in Santa Clara County to be awarded.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to make some significant improvements to the downtown and to see the plans for Gourmet Alley come to life,” she said.

Officials praised Karine Decker, the city’s management analyst overseeing economic development, who found the grant and developed the proposal, as well as Senior Civil Engineer Jorge Duran, who developed the scope and estimates for the infrastructure projects.

According to the grant application, four tons of waste are collected weekly in Gourmet and Railroad alleys, consisting of broken televisions, mattresses, furniture, toilets and more trash.

“The issue of illegal dumping in both alleys has never been permanently addressed,” the application states. “In both alleys, unsecured free-standing dumpsters stand behind existing businesses that face the main street. Large/bulky items and trash gets dumped in the alleys on a regular basis both legally and illegally, when residents dump waste in the unlit alleys overnight.”

The city plans to install 16 new garbage receptacles along the alleyways, according to the grant application. Both alleys will also be repaved with stamped concrete.

City Administrator Jimmy Forbis said the city council is expected to accept the grant in June. The city will be reimbursed from the state once it completes the projects over the next two years, with no matching funds required, according to Forbis.

He added that the grant application was purposely broad in order for the city to be flexible and gather public input on the proposals.

“We believe this will put a significant shot in the arm to the downtown movement,” Forbis said.

Gary Walton of the Gilroy Downtown Business Association said the organization has been working with the city and downtown business and property owners for the past 19 months on a vision to enhance Gourmet Alley.

The GDBA has made strides in the plan, having reached an agreement in January with Pacific Gas & Electric to power a group of buildings that underwent retrofits.

“It’s a great day,” Walton said. “To come this far and have money available to help work on that vision is a great thing.”

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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