Phoenix couple turns alley into art gallery, saying it helps cut down on crime

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Scott Borchardt and his wife Anita Puntney have turned their once-neglected alley into an art gallery. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Scott Borchardt and his wife Anita Puntney have turned their once-neglected alley into an art gallery. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The project started 10 years ago. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The project started 10 years ago. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Dark and dirty, sometimes crime-ridden, alleyways have gotten a bad reputation. Some Phoenix residents are working to change that.

In the heart of the Coronado neighborhood in central Phoenix, Scott Borchardt and his wife, Anita Puntney, have turned their once-neglected alley into an art gallery. 

"One of the things I really enjoy is the beaver, which was taken by one of our friends and neighbors and was actually taken in one of the canals in downtown Phoenix," said Borchardt, showing off one of his favorite pieces. 

Some items are found, others are donated.

"Reuse and recycle," said Borchardt.  

The project started 10 years ago, but the work to add more is constant. 

At a time when some neighborhoods are considering closing off their alleys to lock out trouble, Borchardt and Puntney are doing the opposite, inviting neighbors to a self-guided tour. 

[RELATED: Phoenix considers closing access to alleys in Royal Palms neighborhood]

"Any place that's not frequently visited can attract people you don't want there, people that are there for nefarious reasons, loitering for whatever reason," said Borchardt. "But if it's a more common area where people are walking their dogs, bringing their children, the criminal element doesn't want to hang out in an area where there's common foot traffic."

They say it seems to be working.

"And I think it's contagious when people do beautiful things and set things up, other people emulate it, and if you put out a dump and you just drop your trash, that's contagious too," said Borchardt. 

In case trouble ever does come their way, the couple has put corresponding house numbers on all of their neighbors' back gates, so police and fire can find homes quickly in an emergency. 

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

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Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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