The historical significance of Brooksville’s brick streets and how to maintain them was on the docket during the Brooksville City Council’s Jan. 30 workshop session.
Streets made from Augusta Brick are located throughout the City, Community Development Director David Hainley told the panel. While Augusta Brick was manufactured throughout the South, including Augusta, Georgia, as late as the 1940s, the material is no longer available unless it is reclaimed or derived from other projects elsewhere. Even so, protecting the existing brick streets may be more cost-effective and easier to repair than paving the City’s streets with non-brick material, he said.
According to Hainley, the city currently pays approximately $25 a square yard to mill and then repave areas. Meanwhile, it costs about $160 per square yard to put new bricks down – $190 if using existing bricks.
“Remember, you’re taking five times that $25 to get to where the brick is,” he said. “Also, Asphalt lasts about 10 or 15 years before it needs to be overlaid – at (age) 100, the bricks used have held up pretty well.”
In 1994, the then-sitting City Council passed a resolution to protect and maintain the city’s existing brick streets. Now, city staff seeks clarification for carrying out that resolution. “Does this mean that we should not overlay anywhere brick streets where they are showing through?” Hainley asked the panel. “Should we do something else?”
Mayor Blake Bell said preserving existing streets was a good start. “The list of negatives definitely does not outweigh the list of positives when it comes to brick streets in Brooksville,” Bell said. “Definitely don’t pave over existing brick streets – that’s a starting point – also, we’d love to see some way to restore the streets that have been paved over.”
In response, Hainley gave the Council a list of options to identify and repair existing brick streets. “I think we need a complete inventory for mapping purposes and for your information,” he told the Council. “Then establish construction standards that say if we’re going to fix a street, how we are going to fix it.”
City manager Ron Snowberger later told that panel that three or four years ago, the Council sitting at that time had authorized the city to spend approximately $600,000 a year to begin a repaving program.
“As a result, we had a company come in, and they analyzed every street in the city as far as brick street or if it is partially paved,” he recalled. “Trying to figure out where we go from here so that we have a plan, and that the plan is functional and is going to work.”
He suggested that the development of an ordinance is the best way to proceed. “I’ve spoken to the city attorney, and the best way to go about this is with an ordinance because resolutions are (generally) more of a short term,” Snowberger said. “Also, an ordinance should spell out how we’re (going to) do this so that it does not hamper our (existing) road paving program.”
Council member Crista Tanner said that a proposed ordinance would be a guide for succeeding councils.
“I concur with the Mayor; please don’t pave over any of the brick streets. If we need to amend the (existing resolution), we can do that for future councils,” she said. “And I would love to see the brick streets that have been paved over to (be restored).”
After polling the panel, Bell said that the consensus of the Council was to move forward with an ordinance that protects the brick streets.
During the public input session on the subject, Brooksville resident Chris Rhodes welcomed the preservation effort.
“I’m really excited to hear the words ‘historic preservation’ come up. I’m really excited to see where that leads – I’m very confident,” he said. “If we unearthed these brick streets, it could help us achieve national historic designation for at least some parts of our downtown area.”
An ordinance to preserve and maintain Brooksville’s brick streets is expected to be forthcoming.