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Brick sidewalk plans hit a bump

May 08, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- A potentially significant roadblock has popped up in Waynesboro officials' plans to replace Main Street's concrete sidewalks with bricks.

The borough received a $500,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for the project between Grant and Walnut streets.

Borough staff recently used white paint on the sidewalks to illustrate the developing problem. The borough owns a 12-foot right of way from the center of the road, meaning a couple of feet of sidewalk against the buildings belongs to the property owners.

Council members question whether they can compel property owners to pay for and install the bricks.

Harry Morningstar Jr. talked to the borough council this week on behalf of nonprofit organization Main Street Waynesboro Inc. His message was property owners support the bricks extending to buildings, but not if they have to pay for them.

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"Every property owner I've talked to -- owning the majority of buildings downtown -- say they certainly want to see it done right," Morningstar said early in his discussion with council.

The tone changed, though, when Councilman C. Harold Mumma asked whether property owners would sign agreements saying they would pay for and maintain the bricks.

"No one is willing to spend money in that manner. It'll never happen," Morningstar said, saying he would sign the agreement, but most won't.

Although brick and concrete don't differ much in cost, the brick takes more work to maintain. And some officials say regulations indicate property owners actually can do whatever they want with the portion of the sidewalk they own.

The council decided to seek construction bids for the work. The main bid will ask for quotes to install bricks in the borough's right of way, then an additional item will find out how much it would cost the borough to pay for the property owners' bricks and installation.

The bids, scheduled to be opened in July, will reveal just how far $500,000 will go.

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