Lynn and Cliff Landes, founders
217 S. Jessup Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Welcome to the Philadelphia Society of Small Streets (PSSS)!
PLEASE TAKE NOTE: One of our main goals is to stop unsightly "plumbers patches" -- Sep 12, 2013: Good news! In a July 19th, 2013 email we received from Streets Commissioner David Perri, he stated, "The pilot program to allow homeowners to contract historic street restorations through their plumbing contractors is now available." See link: http://www.philadelph...
Previously, plumbers felt that they had to pour an asphalt or concrete patch. Homeowners had to wait years for the city to get around to restoring the patch, which rarely occurred. Now, homeowners have the option to contract for the restoration work to be done immediately!
Although they will have to pay for the restoration out of their own pocket, Commissioner Perri said in a July 23, 2013 email to us, that homeowners would receive a $450 discount off of their permit fee. However, we pointed out to the Commissioner that the discount has not been included on the website, and we waited to announce the program until that was done.
We recently asked the Commissioner again to update the website with that important incentive, but nothing has happened thus far. So, we thought it was time to go ahead and let you all know about the program. The Streets Department also said that they would notify homeowners through a press release and other means.
So, congratulations to everyone. We think that this is a good first step toward putting an end to unsightly "plumbers patches", and it wouldn't have happened without your support. Thank you!
Lynn and Cliff Landes
If you want your historic street repaired: Please write a letter and gather signatures from your neighbors and send them to the list of government officials below. Send a hard copy to the same people. Also, get residents to write their own personal letters. That's very effective as well. You need to make a strong case. The Streets Department likes to restore these streets in clusters. So, it is a good idea to suggest other nearby streets for restoration at the same time. Point out things like the streets' unsafe condition, how often people visit, how many people live on these streets, and the streets location near other tourist attractions. Also, provide photos and measurements of streets to be restored. The petition could read something like the following: The Philadelphia residents below respectfully request that the Philadelphia Historical Commission and Streets Department restore the following streets through the special $200,000 annual fund allocated for this purpose: list streets. Although, the City has a dedicated fund of $200,000 per year to repair streets, you can also look into additional fundraising and the letting of private contracts, as well as applying for grants through organizations, such as The Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.
What can you do now to make sure our historic streets are properly maintained? Support the proposals below. E-mail your city officials and suggest the following changes to city policy:
• your council member - http://www.phila.gov/citycouncil/imgs/map1.png
• Mark.Squilla@phila.gov (Chair of Streets Committee on City Council)
• David.Perri@phila.gov (Streets Commissioner, Streets Department)Jon.Farnham@phila.gov (Executive Director of Philadelphia Historical Commission)
Proposed changes to city ordinances, regulations, and/or policies:
1. Plumbers patches: No more asphalt or concrete repair patches, please! Repair these streets as they were intended - PICK THEM UP AND PUT THEM BACK DOWN AGAIN! Currently, property owners have the option to restore the streets at their own expense (with a $450 reduction is the permit fee), but we believe that immediate restoration by the property owner should be a requirement, not an option. SEE - http://www.philadelphiastreets.com/transportation-highways-historical-streets.aspx
2. Construction: The Streets Department should consider using the Netherlands model of 15 inches of pulverized concrete (we prefer modified aggregate) and on top, 2-6 inches of sand (of good quality, not like the sand on a beach), rather than an 8-inch concrete base with 1 inch cement/sand topping. A concrete base increases storm water run-off, makes it difficult to access utilities, directs water toward homes, and after excavation, concrete chunks generally get thrown back into plumbers ditches, thereby creating future subsidence problems. Also, the spacing between the bricks and stones should be minimal to making walking (particularly in heels) easier and safer.
3. Accidental paving: The Streets Department should check first with the Historical Commission that a street is not designated part of the historic cartway before crews pave it.
4. Private financing: There should be a protocol in place for residents to contract out to repair their own streets with either their own funds or through grants. At the current rate of repair, it will be 70 years before all the streets are fixed.
5. Public information: Currently, there is no easily obtainable information on the Philadelphia Historical Commission (PHC) website regarding our historically designated streets. PSSS would also greatly appreciate being listed on the following PHC webpage as a resource that citizens can access -http://www.phila.gov/historical/resources.h....
6. Public meetings and input: This should be standard practice. Public meetings should take place in a timely manner on which streets get restored, how, and in what order.
7. Historic curbs: Currently, the Historical Commission only has control over the flat surface of these historic streets. Our curbs should also be protected.
8. Streets crews: The Streets Department should have a trained crew(s) to reset bricks, stones, and pavers.
9. Resident crews: The Streets Department should consider certifying residents to repair small projects.
10. Weight limit: There should be a posted signs with a weight limit for heavy vehicles.
11. Snow removal: On small streets, approximately 6 feet wide, residents should be required to shovel their half of the street and a path to their doors, leaving the sidewalk available to take the snow. This method requires no more effort of the part of residence in that they are currently required to clear a path on their sidewalk 36 inches wide. It will also save the small streets from damage from snow removal equipment.
12. Special equipment: The city and contractors should use special designed light-weight equipment to reset the heavy elements of the streets, rather than depend on backhoes and similar heavy equipment that can damage the streets.
NOTE: If you have a safety hazard, you should immediatelynotify the Streets Department - http://potholes.phila.gov/tap.nsf/d15d032a30a36768852578850008337c?OpenForm or call 3-1-1 (215-686-8686) Save the reference number if you need to follow-up.
Annual Report for 2012: The results of the work done on our historic streets in 2012 was somewhat predictable, as the Streets Department insisted on laying a concrete base: In general the restored streets, by contractor Spaventa & Sons, look great (200 blocks of Jessup and Warnock, 1300 blocks of Cypress and Panama). However, the mortar between the bricks is crumbling in some places, the streets are not porous and are therefore holding water, and the Belgium blocks are placed too far apart for safe and comfortable walking and riding (in cars or on bikes). On Jessup Street there is a new crack straight across the road just next to our house (217), breaking one of our old granite gutter stone in half. We believe that the crack is the result of the concrete being laid in one continuous stretch and encompassing all the street elements, not allowing for any breaks and therefore no 'give'. That said, the restored historic streets look really good.
Links and information for maintenance and construction:
• Vegetation between pavers: Please do not use herbicides on streets and sidewalks. Instead, apply full-strength white vinegar in a spray bottle or watering can. Use vinegar at the end of a hot day, so that it will not quickly evaporate.
• Reclaimed brick for sidewalks, etc.: Provenance - Old Soul Architectural Salvage, see http://www.phillyprov...
• Brick and stone street restoration company: Pavement Savers Inc., uses radiant heating technology - http://www.smoothroad...
Contractors for restoring sidewalks and streets, as recommended by PSSS members:
How to add a street to the City Plan:
Go to - http://www.philadelph..., also see http://philaplanning....
• You can also contact your councilman for assistance. If you do not know who your councilperson is, go to - http://www.phila.gov/....
How to add a street to the Philadelphia Historic Street Paving Thematic District: Contact Ms. Erin Cote, M.S. in Historic Preservation, email@example.com
Various construction examples:
- Netherlands: TigerStone http://www.tiger-ston... (paver installation company). From a Tiger-Stone representative, "In the Netherlands we use 15 inches of concrete debris ( pulverised concrete) and on top 2 to 6 inches of sand ( of good quality, not like the sand on a beach…) In a lot of countries the use stabilized sand, this is a mixture with cement. The most important is that the base construction is solid so in the long term the road quality can be guarantied. We use sand on the last few inches because the ‘’old’’ stones are not likely to al have the same dimensions. The sand does have the compacted with a compacting plate before paving the stones."
- Portland, Oregon: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/article/77074#sequence Streets are excavated to full depth, about 13 to 18 inches below top of curb. Drainage geotextile fabric is placed on the ground surface, and a layer of 2”-minus rock drainage blanket 6-10 inches deep is laid on top of the fabric and compacted. ... The permeable pavers are then installed on the leveling bed. The space between paving blocks is filled with the fine rock, and rock and pavers are compacted. (We don't agree with using geotextile fabric as it interferes with excavation for repairs, and also interferes with subsidence, which acts as an early warning system for the formation of catastrophic sinkholes.)
- From Davenport, Iowa: "We generally use six inches of 95% proctor compacted ¾” down (with fines) crushed stone material for the base, with about 1” of sand on top of that. We vibrate the bricks into the sand, then sweep more sand over the top and vibrate again to get the sand to fill the gaps between the bricks. On hills we mix in 1 part mortar to 3 parts sand to prevent the sand mixture from washing away."
- From Willmette, Illinois: "This work shall consist of removing existing bricks in streets at various locations determined by the ENGINNER; removal of the existing deteriorated stone base to a depth of 6 inches, placement of a new 6 inch CA 6 base (CA is crushed aggregate), a 1 inch sand layer and replacement of the bricks."
Brick Pavement Repairs, 6 inch Stone Base: used for brick repairs , with settlement
Brick Pavement Repairs, 13 inch Stone Base: used for brick repairs , with a lot of settlement
HISTORIC RESTORATIONS: (We have requested the construction specifications on the projects below - Mar 13, 2013)
Washington Place, Troy, NY
O & P Streets, Georgetown, DC
Phil LaCombeDirector and Co-Founder, Small Streets
Paul Daniel Marriott & Associates
3140 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016