Brick project to spruce up Grantville
by W. Winston Skinner
Brick by brick, Robert Allen hopes there will be a brighter day in the future for Grantville’s downtown.
Allen, a member of the city’s Downtown Development Authority, recently traveled to Manchester to see a project where engraved bricks have been used to add visual charm to the town and raised funds. Allen talked about the DDA mounting a similar project in Grantville at the most recent Grantville City Council meeting.
The council unanimously approved the concept.
Manchester has been doing its brick project for about 10 years. "They still have people who come and want to buy these brick,” Allen said.
Manchester began as a railroad town, and an area near the train observation platform features bricks honoring railroad workers.
"Those are the engineers, conductors — anyone who worked on the railroad. It’s a very interesting project,” Allen said.
"They also had a veterans memorial. You could buy the brick for your relative who was in the military,” Allen noted.
Grantville actually began a brick project awhile back, and there are about 70 bricks ready to be put in place.
If Grantville uses the company that Manchester used for the bricks, Allen said the DDA can sell a 4-inch-by-8-inch brick for $30, netting about $10 per brick. There also would be an 8-by-8 brick available. Allen also said people would be able to buy "a little memento brick that you can put on your desk" for $8.
"This company is in Phenix City. You can buy either the tan color or the red color," Allen said.
Allen explained that seams in sidewalks make perfects places to put rows of bricks in place. The council approved having the city staff place the bricks, despite concerns from Councilwoman Selma Coty.
"I have a problem with the city workers installing these bricks. We're short-handed now. That would just stretch us thinner,” Coty said. She said the DDA needs “to get their own labor.”
"That would be cost prohibitive for us,” Allen said. "That would be cost prohibitive for us, too,” Coty countered.
City Manager Johnny Williams said he did not see a problem with city workers installing the brick. "It’s something that could be done in the course of their ordinary duties,” he said.
Mayor Jim Sells said having the city install the bricks is a good move, meaning the city will “have control over” the progress and process of the project.
Sells is enthusiastic about the project. "We could have sold hundreds of brick this summer,” he said.
“The downtown sidewalk really is very unattractive. It’s your basic very bland concrete,” said Sells, who also owns business property in the downtown area. He said making improvements like the brick project encourage other people to make improvements to their property.
The bricks would be “an attractive addition to downtown,” Sells said. "I think you'll sell a lot of bricks.”