Dear editor,

How disappointing that a majority of city council members voted on April 9 to accept the bid to tear up a block of brick street on South from 17th to 18th and replace it with asphalt.

My question is: Why?

Why the rush to do this now? In a recent online poll conducted by the Enterprise, 89 percent of the 518 respondents indicated Blair should preserve their brick streets. Granted this was not an official ballot measure vote, but it does make one question whether city leaders are responding to the wishes of the citizens or acting on their own biases against brick streets.

Except for local traffic, why drive on South Street if the desire is for a smooth surface? Why not use Colfax or Washington Streets?

Why destroy the integrity of a historic, residential street when the proposed bypass will reduce the number of vehicles using South Street as a “feeder street” to drive from HIghway 30 to Highway 75?

Why replace a sustainable paving material, brick, with an unsustainable, fossil-fuel based material, asphalt? As we all know, asphalt will not last 100 years without being patched or replaced.

Why not create a task force to research how other cities, such as Fairbury or Aurora, maintain and repair their brick streets? Why not create a sensible master plan to find a long-term, sustainable solution?

Nearly 20 years ago the big contentious issue in Blair was burning leaves in the fall and spring. A compromise and workable plan were created to solve the problem of yard waste disposal and alleviate air quality concerns. Why not apply this same effort to preserving Blair’s brick streets today?

Please do NOT rip up a block of South Street until such a plan can be affected.

Dawn Nielsen

President, Blair Historic Preservation Alliance

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