AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - A city-owned alley has been a thorn in the side of business owners in the Red River Cultural District for years now. It serves as a thoroughfare from the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless to Waller Creek.
The problems in that alley have only gotten worse in recent months. In fact, an Austin police officer told FOX 7 Austin he won't go down there unless he has to because it's so unsanitary.
David Leal has been living at a downtown Austin shelter while he works to get back on his feet. He said he doesn't like what regularly goes on at the city-owned piece of land.
"People need somewhere to sleep, but, also, we can't allow drugs or prostitution or nothing of those sorts on the streets because our kids are seeing this stuff too," Leal said.
He isn't the only one concerned with that particular alley. Business owners with property that backs up to it have long complained about the mess, smell, and crime taking place right behind their venues and they have asked for the city to block access to it for years.
"This area right here, and the areas like this, definitely need to be patrolled, gated off," said Leal referencing the alleyway.
When we checked with him in February he said, "Come back in a month. I have one more month."
Four months later, there's still no gate.
"It is a city-owned alley and it's something we need to do something about, and it's something the council's asked for. We haven't gotten really good answers as to why it hasn't happened, so, now everybody is asking about it," Adler said.
In the meantime, people who walk past the alley often said it needs to be cleaned up regularly to prevent a public safety emergency. Already, Leal has noticed that rats have infested the area.
"I see them everywhere and they're not afraid of you," said Leal.
The mayor points out there has been some progress to gate the alleyway as a permit was recently requested by the city.
"When we checked, just a few days ago, Councilwoman Tovo says she was told that within 40 days it would be done… We're sure hoping that's true," said Adler.
One thing that delayed adding a gate to the alley, according to the city, is that the Public Works Department needs to have access to meters there.