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Update of PSSS (Philadelphia Society of Small Streets)

From: Lynn L.
Sent on: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 12:19 PM
Hi PSSS members!  We really appreciate members (17) showing up and sharing their stories at last Thursday's meeting at the Ethical Society.  We came to a consensus on many issues:

  • We are organizing a meeting with the Streets Department and other city officials to discuss a variety of issues, including the issue of residents repairing their own streets and the process they should follow, as well as changes to city regulations, as enumerated in the list below
  • If you are interested in attending meetings with city officials or volunteering to pass out literature on your street, please email us at [address removed]
  • If you want to organize a meetup in your own community (as compared to PSSS general meetups), please contact us at [address removed].  We can make you an event organizer so that you can do it yourself!
  • Please post photos of your street on our meetup page!
  • Let us know if you want us to visit your street for some personal attention and advice. 
  • PSSS members should notify the Streets Department of any road hazards on their streets -
  • At this time, we as a group will not accept donations for the repair and restoration of our historic small streets.  Members can, of course, solicit money for repairs of their own streets.  However, we have contacted the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia regarding setting up an account to send donations for the repair and restoration of our historic small streets.  The Alliance is a 501 C3 and is qualified to accept grants, etc.  They appear supportive and have requested that we write them a letter formally requesting their assistance. 

Proposed changes to city ordinances, regulations, or policies: What can you do now?  Support the enumerated proposals above!  E-mail your city officials - [address removed], [address removed] (Chair of Streets Committee on City Council), [address removed] (Streets Commissioner), and [address removed] (Executive Director of Philadelphia Historical Commission) and tell them you want these changes in city policy!   We'll be getting back to you soon on the latest developments!  And don't forget that this Meetup Group is for your benefit!  Use it!   Lynn and Cliff Landes, organizers 217 S. Jessup Street Philadelphia, PA 19107 (215)[masked] [address removed]  

  1. The Streets Department should have a trained crew(s) to reset bricks, stones, and pavers.
  2. It is understood that historic "restoration" can be costly and time consuming.  However, historic streets should be "maintained" the same as any other street, particularly as it applies to situations that affects the safety of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
  3.  No more patches, please! What is appropriate for aspalt roads is not appropriate for historic brick and stone cartways.  Currently, residents who hire contractors to dig up a street for plumbing and other purposes, must refill the hole and top it off with asphalt.  Then, theoretically, the city is supposed to dig the hole back up, pour 8" inches of concrete, and then relay the brick.  We all know that that rarely happens, note all the patches on our historic streets.  We also question the use of concrete that seems to serve no other purpose than to do the following: 1) entomb our utilities, which makes future access difficult,  2) hold water, which accelerates the degradation of the brick, or 3) direct water toward our basements. 

    Our suggestion is this:  Residents who obtain a permit to have a street excavated should be responsible to fully restore the street after the work is complete, not the city.  The city's policy of an 8" of concrete fill should be abandoned in favor of crushed stone and screening (the fine particles left over from crushed stone), the exact amounts to be determined by the city).
  4. Prohibit the use of mortor between bricks or stones as it renders them not fit to be reused after excavation. Replace mortor with screening.
  5. Bricks and stones should be set with no spaces in between, in order to allow for safe foot passage.  This setting would be in contrast to other designs that provide spacing between the bricks, which admittedly allow for more storm water penetration, but are not practical for pedestrian foot traffic.
  6. Limit heavy vehicles (the weight to be determined).  Need discussion on the use of the city's smaller trash trucks.
  7. Snow removal vehicles are damaging the small streets, particularly the streets that are only 6 feet wide.  We need special regulations for the small streets that would require residents shovel the street and a path to their front doors, rather than their sidewalks.  This change in policy entails the same amount of surface to be shoveled, it simply moves the location from the sidewalk to the street, thereby making the street passable.


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