If the city of Davenport wants to replace the brick intersection at 5th Street and Western Avenue, it will have to do so without the blessing of the Historic Preservation Commission.
The Commission unanimously voted Tuesday night against a request from the Public Works Department to remove the intersection from the list of protected brick streets so it could replace it with asphalt.
Public Works Director Nicole Gleason and City Engineer Brian Schadt appeared before the commission with the request. They said replacing the brick would bring higher than expected repair costs and that the city needed to complete the project expeditiously.
The intersection project, which was to include ADA updates and drainage work, was budgeted $400,000. In order to replace the entire roadway in brick, Schadt said it would cost in excess of $500,000. By comparison, he said that an asphalt replacement would cost around $450,000.
Gleason said asphalt projects had been coming in under bid by 10-20 percent lately and because of a lack of expertise, the city would need to contract out the brick project.
"It was much more than we had anticipated and what we had previously seen in cost," Gleason said. "The other issue is completely shutting down this intersection to relay brick would be a pretty big hardship on the county as well as general traveling traffic."
Former Davenport Mayor Thom Hart asked the commission to deny the request, citing the favorable life-cycle costs of brick, and the ability to find other sources of funding for it.
A properly laid brick street can last 200 years, Hart said.
Besides asking the county for support, Hart recommended the city look at using self-supported municipal improvement district dollars. Part of this brick street falls within such a district.
As mayor, Hart signed the Historic Preservation ordinance in December of 1991. He said nearby two business owners also opposed the city's request.
"There is really something unseemly about the city petitioning the Historic Preservation Commission to exempt themselves from their own regulations and designations," Hart said. "These are people that have invested in the city, come from Nebraska about 15 years ago, business, restaurant, and chiropractic office and they are there largely because they like the ambiance of the historic nature of the area."
Deanna Walter, who moved from Omaha and owns Cafe d'Marie and a successful online business, said customers often comment about the beauty of the neighborhood and said there is a reason why it is protected.
"It's part of that reason that I think we're bringing a lot to Davenport and a lot more to see from the Blackhawk Hotel or wherever they are walking through these streets," Walter said.
With the street to the east, west and north all brick, Terry Genz, president of the Gold Coast Association Board, said: "It seems so odd for the sake of easiness to remove this intersection."
Alderwoman Marion Meginnis, 3rd Ward, was invited to speak and said it seemed like the high cost was because of the brick, but that was not the case.
"There are drainage issues and a tremendous amount of the expense has to with the drainage issues," Meginnis said.
Meginnis added she was surprised the commission received the request so late and without a staff report.
In agreeing with much of the public sentiment, Commissioner John Freuh said it made sense to have brick streets in neighborhoods not only for the life cycle but because they were one of the reasons people chose to purchase properties.
Freuh also disclosed that he was one of the last remaining organizers of the Gold Coast organization whose goals included preserving the brick streets in that neighborhood.
"I in good conscious have to follow my heart," Freuh said. "I made that commitment when I signed the incorporation papers in 1989."