Hello! Summer has officially arrived and our newest intern is in the office working on projects.
The Cambridge Brickwalk Conservancy, Inc. (CBC) team was at the Make Music event in Harvard Square on June 20th sponsored by the Harvard Square Business Association. Our table was set up on Brattle Street midst brick sidewalks in that historic section of the City.
In the course of the event, we spoke to Cantabridgians who were very supportive of preserving the legacy of brick sidewalks in the City while making them safe for everyone.
Tourists going by our table were also able to appreciate this unique characteristic of historic Cambridge.
The shopkeepers I know have said legacy brick sidewalks are a unique draw and would like to see them preserved and maintained.
Maintaining what we have without using asphalt as the main patch material would be a great improvement.
I am sure that the patches were meant to be temporary but are now permanent (or is several years temporary?)
At CBC we are campaigning to galvanize what we are told is strong (but unorganized) support for brick sidewalks in Cambridge.
The Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA) recommended wire-cut bricks be used for ramps in its historic neighborhood and architectural cast concrete pavers be installed for the detectable warning pad. The US access board has said that properly laid brick is just as ADA compliant as poured concrete. The warning-pad pavers can be made in any color and can be made with the same audible echo as the plastic pads. As a benefit, they are 1/3 the cost of the plastic pads and possibly have a longer lifespan.
Back in Cambridge, you may notice that many of the currently installed warning pads already need repair. As a consequence, the Cambridge DPW is trying to find and test more durable warning pad material. The concrete warning-pad pavers suggested by the BHCA would seem to fit the bill.
Cambridge Brickwalk Conservancy agrees with the BHCA that it is possible (and desirable) to satisfy both the ADA guidelines and historic preservation guidelines without compromising either. And, as the BHCA pointed out. it is critical to do so to preserve our historic legacy.
We will continue to campaign for a policy that better balances the needs of the disabled with the importance of preserving historic brick sidewalks in Cambridge. The charm and beauty of this feature need not be lost because of a false belief that serving the needs of the disabled requires relentless degradation of the City’s brick sidewalks.
Diane Beck, VP of Cambridge Brickwalk Conservancy, Inc.