There has been significant utility work done on Essex Street (the stretch near the YMCA). Plans to repair the surfaces, including sidewalks have been in development for several years. There is a pre-construction meeting tonight at 6pm.
There has been some discussion about the removal of bricks on this stretch of Essex Street as well as questions about why bricks aren't being installed.
This is what we sent to the City Engineer in advance of tonight's meeting.
Historic Salem, in cooperation with community members throughout Salem, has recently initiated a “Brick Coalition" and is investigating pro-active measures that can be undertaken to preserve, enhance and maintain brick sidewalks in our historic downtown and in neighborhoods throughout the city.
This particular project on Essex Street has been announced as pending construction several times over the past few years. Each time there was a robust discussion among preservationists and with city officials about the loss of existing and the lack of new brick in the historic downtown, and each time we were informed that it was too late in the design process to consider the environmental and cultural benefits of brick sidewalks. We understand that plans announced two years ago were delayed due to various issues - in part having to do with COVID - and are now being executed on. While it once again appears “too late” we formally register our opposition to the loss of any instance of brick from Salem's sidewalks and voice our request that if any opportunity arises to add value to this project through installation of brick that it be thoroughly investigated. Research indicates that environmental, cultural and accessibility goals can all be met through brick paving, with the clear indication that maintenance is at the core of any issue (as is true with all sidewalk materials).
Previous discussions about this project were one of many impetuses for the formation of the Brick Coalition. We are hopeful that through their work we can prevent such losses and missed opportunities in the future. We look forward to sharing their research findings and supporting measures to ensure committed maintenance of existing sidewalks and, at a minimum, a legal requirement to replace like-for-like.
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