BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The city’s historic preservation group is now looking at the value of the city’s brick streets and their role in future tourism efforts.
At Monday’s meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission, the group discussed how to proceed preserving the brick streets still present in the city, and how they may fit into future marketing plans.
HPC president Chris Sorrentino said he’s been speaking with city Public Works Director Mark Bousselot about the possibilities concerning the streets and the city’s plan going forward.
“I don’t think we want to totally replace brick streets that have already been torn up, but I do want us to look on this committee at what streets are still there, get a list of those streets, and go back and see where the original brick streets were for comparison,” Sorrentino said.
He said the streets that are paved over usually have the bricks ripped up, but he was interested in finding out what it would cost to repair and preserve streets that are still viable.
“Let’s go with what streets are still brick in the entire city and go from there,” Sorrentino said.
Commission member Andy Andrews said the streets are part of the city’s history and need to be preserved where possible.
“My main concern is the 10th Street sewer project is going to probably tear out the oldest brick street in town from Avenue H to the tracks down there,” said Andrews said.
“That’s probably the most endangered one.”
He said a 20-foot by 20-foot section was ruined in 2008 by the flood, but it was repaired with bricks.
Sorrentino and Andrew agreed the streets are vital to people visiting the community.
“It’s already been well expressed by visitors from the cruise lines and from other states, that part of their goal is to see the brick streets, because there are so many towns that have done away with them,” Sorrentino.
“That’s why we are addressing it now and we need to start working on it with the city.”
City councilman Mark Lair said some of the streets are really rough and have had some asphalt patching and may not be cost effective to try and save.
Sorrentino said that’s why its important to get city staff involved in the discussion.
‘Mark’s agreed to come to one of our meetings once we get all this data. We can sit down with him and go over it and he can give us more knowledge on what we can do with them,” Sorrentino said.
One suggestion was to get a historic brick street district north of the Park to Park Historic district on the city’s east side that bookends with Old Settlers and Central Park.
Andrews said the city needs to hold onto the remaining brick streets.
“We need to keep them. We get all kinds of visitors in town who want to drive the brick streets and we send them to D,” Andrews said.
In other action, the commission:
• received word that $5,000 match program has generated more than $11,300 for the City Cemetery renovation efforts.
• discussed putting an iron archway on the Avenue H main entry of the City Cemetery with some of the renovation funds and is looking for firms interested in helping with the design and creation of the signs.
• discussed getting bids from headstone companies to reset and repair damaged markers in City Cemetery.