Plan to pave brick street in South Greensburg sparks debate
A plan to pave a South Greensburg street has sparked a neighborhood debate, pitting history against convenience.
A 200-yard stretch of Elm Street is one of the city’s few brick roads. It may not stay that way for long.
Borough council is working with Westmoreland County to apply for a grant to pave the street, replacing bricks with asphalt, according to council President Clentin Martin.
However, many Elm Street residents say they prefer the bricks.
“I don’t like the (paving) idea,” said Elm Street resident Regina Zajdel, 90. “This is traditional,” she said, gesturing to the brick road from her porch.
To Zajdel, the bricks hearken back to a more prosperous time, the middle of the 20th century, when South Greensburg was a thriving industrial hub with three large factories.
Martin said there is good reason to replace the brick. It is tough to maintain and makes it difficult for garbage trucks to get up and down Elm Street.
“Naturally, you’ve got people who say, ‘I want my brick street,’ but we’ve got problems with maintenance and garbage,” he said.
Zajdel thinks the extra work is worth it. “I know it’s getting crooked,” she said. “They can fix that.”
The brick road has many dips and bumps. For Elm Street resident Jean Draskovich, the paving crews can’t come soon enough.
Draskovich said she’s asked borough council members why they don’t repair the road.
“They have nobody who knows how to fix these bricks now,” she said. “All the old-timers did it, and they’re all dead.”
Draskovich is in the minority. Resident Vanessa Lewis, who has been leading the charge against the change, distributed a petition to 15 homes on the street. The residents of 13 homes signed, saying they want the bricks to stay. Only two households declined.
“I just think they should leave it alone and pave a street that the residents actually want paved,” Lewis said.
The bricks were laid in the 1930s, she said. There were more brick roads in town at the time. All but three of them have been replaced with asphalt.
Lewis followed up the physical petition with an online version on change.org. More than 150 people had signed as of Monday afternoon.
“I don’t mind the bricks at all,” resident Dianne Levrio said. “I’ve never really had any problems.”
Martin said the paving isn’t a sure thing. The council agreed to apply for a grant and will decide what to do if and when it is awarded. Work would not begin until next year at the earliest.
“If you don’t apply for grants, you don’t get any money,” he said.
Zajdel said an asphalt Elm Street wouldn’t feel like home.
“It wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t be South Greensburg,” she said. “This is part of us.”
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter .