Brick streets have resurfaced as an issue of discussion and debate for the Glenwood City Council.
Two Glenwood citizens – Jean Jaskierny and Linda Forman – attended council meetings in August to voice their displeasure with the city’s public works department for using concrete to repair a brick intersection at Coolidge and Hazel Street earlier this summer.
Jaskierny and Forman said by using concrete to make the repair, the city broke a promise it made in the late 1990s – to repair brick streets with bricks. Glenwood Public Works Director Perry Cook said the repair was necessary because the intersection had deteriorated to the point where it was holding water. Cook said repairing the damage with concrete was the quickest and most economical route to go.
Jaskierny and Forman, members of a brick preservation committee founded in the 1990s, said their organization should have been told of the city’s intent to repair the intersection, as has been the practice in the past. Forman noted that she and other members of the committee have previously volunteered their time to clean, preserve and properly lay brick pavers on several city streets.
“When this all began, the city made a promise to us,” Forman said. “We fulfilled our end of the bargain and came out to replace bricks.”
The city has a brick street “policy” in place, but not an actual ordinance, Forman and Jaskierny were told.
Jaskierny said the city should just “bite the bullet” and remove the concrete from the intersection.
“I really think the concrete needs to be taken out and the bricks put back in” Jaskierny said.
Council member Craig Florian sided with Jaskienry, stating, “I agree with you. I think the concrete should be pulled up and the bricks put back in and the public works department should take the hit.”
The hit would be approximately $14,000, Cook reported to the council. That cost would cover the removal of existing concrete and the replacement of bricks by a private contractor.
The cost, Florian said, should be absorbed by the city and the matter chalked up as a “learning experience.”
“I’m still of the mindset that I hate to take a brick street out,” he said. “It’s a matter of principle.”
Cook said he’s not opposed to preserving the brick streets, but repairs can be costly and time-consuming, typically demanding three times the resources of concrete or asphalt-paved streets.
“Most communities that preserve bricks have a funding mechanism in place to do so,” Cook said. “Glenwood does not.”
Jaskierny said she believes the brick streets are more cost effective over the long haul because they stand the test of time.
Cook said a city-wide evaluation of all brick streets is needed. The evaluation should look at life expectancy, feasibility, historical significance and long-term planning for future repairs. He noted that some brick streets, such as Coolidge Street south of the Glenwood Fire Station, are of major concern. Although Forman said the brick preservation group is still willing to provide the labor and expertise to replace and maintain brick streets, including at the intersection of Coolidge and Hazel, Cook questioned the soundness and liability exposure of a city policy that relies on a volunteer labor force that may or may not be in existence 10 to 20 years down the road.
Under a compromise plan proposed by councilman Allan Chistiansen and endorsed by Mayor Dyle Downing, the intersection at Coolidge and Hazel will be finished with concrete and reopened to traffic until a timeline and plan of action agreeable to both the city and the brick preservation volunteers can be reached. If volunteer labor is used to replace the bricks in the intersection, the cost of the project will be reduced to approximately $5,000 to $6,000, Cook said. The intersection has been closed for several weeks pending a decision by the city council.