On July 25 we had what appeared to be a very productive meeting with the Streets Department, chaired by David Perri, on the subject of the restoration and maintenance of historically designated streets. Also invited to the meeting were the Philadelphia Historical Commission, Preservation Alliance, Washington Square West Civic Association, Streets Department staff, and members of our group. The meeting was the first of its kind, to our knowledge, since the program was put into place 13 years ago.
We discussed several topics, but our emphasis was on plumbers 'asphalt' patches and how to avoid them in the future. Some solutions were put forward, but as far as we can tell, no action has taken place.
We are disappointed that our emails to the Streets Department for a follow-up of any kind to the meeting, particularly on the subject of plumbers patches, have gone unanswered. As a result, the inevitable has happened. Warnock Street, which was just completed two weeks ago, got a plumbers patch yesterday, courtesy of one of Philadelphia's utility companies. Yesterday and today we have again contacted the Streets Department to request action on this issue.
If we do not get a response by the end of the week we will be asking you, our members, to call your representative on City Council and ask for assistance.
We believe that there is no excuse for plumbers patches. Currently, the City is paid a $500 fee by contractors/plumbers to restore the street after it is dug up. However, in the case of historic streets, the Streets Department rarely comes back to do the restoration, so the patch can remain for years, if not decades. We recommend that the city drop the fee and make whoever digs up a historic street responsible for putting it back properly. Furthermore, we strongly recommend that only those certified to work on historic streets be allowed to do so.
Last month we had a plumber on our street deliberately jackhammer a historic gutter stone (9 feet long) in half and then break it in another spot, while we were literally screaming at him to stop. Those plumbers did not have the equipment nor the know-how to properly and safely restore the street. We contacted the Streets Department about the incident, complete with photos, yet still no follow-up. Hopefully, we are not reaching an impasse. However, if that is the case, we trust that our members will rally to the cause.
Lynn and Cliff Landes