McKownville Improvement Association
- McKownville  residential neighborhoods - the alleys in the area north of Western Avenue

The revised subdivision plan for the Country Club Highlands development filed in December 1912 included a significantly changed street and lot plan. It also added a system of alleyways (shown on this map - pdf) behind the houses allowing for access to garages from these alleys. In the original intention, this would have kept the house lots and sidewalks from being cut and paved over by driveways, and reduced the vehicle traffic on the streets. This arrangement not only promoted safety for residents and their children but, because the streets were not paved originally, also kept the dust nuisance down in the warmer months. Possibly they may have also made the streets a bit less slushy or ice-rutted in the winter.
These alleys are still actively used adjacent to several of the streets, but those next to Elmwood Street became inactive, with driveways to the street or onto Fuller Road  seeming to be preferred for houses built from about 1930. This may have been because these streets had been paved by then, but the alleys were not, and also perhaps because clearing of snow from the narrow alleys must have been a chore to be avoided if possible.
The alleys were also used to run electric utility supply lines, making the streetscapes attractively free of cables and creosoted utility poles, with the unfortunate exception of Norwood Street and Waverly Place where the utility used the streets as well as the alleys to install these. The usual butchering of street trees, planted before the utility line was installed, has inevitably followed.
alley between
        Parkwood and Glenwood Streets - thumbnail image alley between Parkwood and Glenwood Streets, with utility line.

        alley thumbnail image alley between Norwood and Glenwood Streets.

The town supervisor thinks these alleys may be unique in the State, in the fact that there appear now to be no formal owners of most of the sections of these alleyways as far as the property tax is concerned (map of present extent of the alleys - pdf). One is shown clearly marked as "common alley" on a fairly recent engineering plan [3.4MB pdf file] of a corner of the Country Club Highlands subdivision, behind 1467 Western Avenue, off Elmwood Street. The county tax map also marks them with this label.
Besides the aim of keeping driveway and garage access off the residential streets, the alleys are also where the pipes of a system of combination sewer and storm drains were installed in the early years of the development. A report of the Improvement Association Water and Sewer committee in 1946 states that ownership of the storm drain/sewer overflow system was even then not clear, and that no one seemed to be responsible for it. These drains were disconnected from house septic tank overflow sewer lines sometime between 1970 and 1973, when a separate sanitary sewer system was installed in McKownville. The remains of the old alley drain system have later proved problematical, because they are not systematically maintained. There have been places where subsidence has occurred, and also blockages, which have contributed to local high groundwater levels and individual basement flooding.
In general, residents where the alleys are still actively in use like them, and the walking paths they provide away from the traffic noise and fumes on Western Avenue are valued assets in this neighborhood.
The McKownville Improvement Association in 2014 distributed a explanatory flyer to residents owning properties adjacent to the alleys, who are requested to help maintain them so that they are usable, including not blocking access for utilities maintenance crews to the cables and wires which run along them.  

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