BISBEE, Ariz. — The city's Public Works Director Tom Klimek is going for a $203,000 grant to repair the 104-year-old sidewalk that contains 1,200 individual glass squares in front of the Fair Store Building.
He told the city council members at a recent meeting that city crews have shored up the sidewalk with a number of two-by-four's and placed plywood beneath the slabs to insure that pedestrians can safely walk across it.
Each of the 10 panels of sidewalk has to be carefully removed in order to repair the glass inserts, which cast natural light into the basement. That means he'll have to come up with a way to safely cover the open hole in front of the building for pedestrian traffic.
Klimek explained the city was awarded a $78,600 grant from Arizona Department of Transportation's transportation enhancement grant program back in 2009 to make the repairs. The problem was that the sum was not enough to do the project, so no one bid on the contract.
Southeastern Governments Organization suggested the city re-apply and ask for more money, so Klimek put together a new funding application that will cover the cost of removal, repair and re-installation of the sidewalk panels, as well as replace the old, deteriorated I-beams that support the sidewalk.
"According to Mr. Robert Frankeberger, Senior Architect with the State Historic Preservation Office, sidewalks of this design and style were quite common in major cities over 100 years ago," continued Klimek. "To find one here is Bisbee is unusual. He indicated his full support for this project in terms of its historical significance."
The city also has the support of ADOT. In a letter, Bill Harmon, ADOT Stafford district engineer, stated: "This proposal is for much more than routine maintenance; rather, this is indeed a reconstruction project with the intention to preserve the flavor of the Old West . I am excited to support this proposal ."
Councilwoman Luche Giacomino was pleased that the sidewalk would finally be restored.
"Thank you. After fighting for this for the past 12 years, we may finally save our glass sidewalk," she said.
Richard Cooksley, a 91-year-old WWII veteran, runs the Bisbee Restoration Museum in the old Fair Store Building. He said in a brief interview that he asked the city for help in securing the walkway and is pleased that the city is trying again to fund the repair of the historic sidewalk.
According to Carrie Gustavson, director of the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, the glass sidewalk, made and installed by American Luxfer Prism Company, has been in place since 1908, according to records.
ADOT will announce awards in the coming months.
Information from: Sierra Vista Herald, http://www.svherald.com