Two months after it shot down a request by some business owners to preserve brick sidewalks in the downtown district, Fair Haven’s Borough Council is now determined to replace a stretch of faux-brick pavers in front of nearby Memorial Park with real brick.
A flip-flop? No, says Mayor Mike Halfacre. Even though the sidewalk in question abuts concrete walkways within the park itself, and the new scored-concrete walkway of the business district is just yards away, this patch of earth is deserving of brick, he says.
“This is a park, not a commercial district,” one that is home to memorials to war veterans and victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, Halfacre says. “There’s certainly more incentive to accomodate people’s desires with a park.”
The concrete vs. brick issue arose earlier this year as work was about to begin on a streetscape makeover in the historic business district, and soon exposed a citizenry obsessed about the aesthetics and costs of what’s underfoot.
Businesses that had installed brick walkways at their own expense were faced with having them ripped out, while others who thought the use of brick should be extended railed against a plan for poured concrete that would be scored to create tile-like squares. They lost, largely because their appeals came too late and would have involved costly change orders.
The question of what to do with the stretch of walkway that fronts the park arose because the path has to be removed to accomodate electrical conduit to the traffic light at the intersection, Halfacre says. And what’s there now is “not technically brick” but a common, and to his eye not very well made, paver that’s beginning to crumble.
“It’s not particularly attractive, and it’s not particularly well done,” he says of the installation.
The brick job at the park is not a done deal, however, and hinges on the town being able to negotiate an acceptable cost for the the change order with the contractor on the job, Halfacre says. Work on the sidewalk was imminent when redbankgreen spoke to Halfacre yesterday.
Meanwhile, we haven’t heard back from Barbara Dillon, an area resident for 44 years who spearheaded a petition to save the pavers.
The petition, which drew some 156 signatures at last count, opposed replacement of the “relatively new brick sidewalks” at the park as “an unjustifiable economic extravagance and an aesthetic insult to Memorial Park and the historic district in which it is located.”
“We were appalled by them ripping up the bricks at the Javastop [coffee shop] and a few other businesses,” Dillon told us recently. “The brickwork should be preserved, thats all there is to it.”
Brooks Von Arx, an attorney and historic preservation advocate who led the charge for the pro-brick faction in May, was away and unavailable for comment.