MIDDLEPORT — Asphalt is going down on a portion of Main Street in Middleport after a ruling by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
In a letter to the Ohio EPA with regard to the project, Diana Welling, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer for Resource Protection and Review, stated “We concur with your finding that the proposed undertaking (asphalt on Main Street) will not affect properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.”
The decision comes after a site visit on Friday by representatives from the Historic Preservation Office and the Ohio EPA in which they walked the Main Street area with village officials to discuss the proposal to put asphalt on a little more than two blocks of Main Street, rather than the Middleport Brick which had been on the street.
In that meeting, Village Administrator Joe Woodall discussed the village’s need for the placement of asphalt rather than brick after the wastewater project necessitated an eight foot trench instead of the original four foot trench. To put the bricks back would have cost the village approximately $276,000.
“Although the brick streets in Middleport may not meet the criteria for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, the SHPO recognizes the community pride and significance of the brick streets to the citizens of Middleport and Meigs County. Therefore, as we discussed at our site visit on June 8, 2018, we strongly encourage the Ohio EPA to work closely with the Village of Middleport to find ways to mitigate the loss of the bricks along Main Street, including but not limited to, reusing the brick in other public works projects with interpretive signage about the history of the brick,” wrote Welling.
Asphalt work on the street has already begun, with the brick crosswalks having been installed near the intersection of Main Street with Fifth and Sixth Streets. The crosswalks are one use of the bricks which was discussed on Friday.
While the village was clear to go ahead with the plan as presented, the SHPO noted that the project should have initially been submitted for review before by the Ohio EPA.
“On July 18, 2017, the Ohio EPA issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for this undertaking ‘because the Area of Potential Effects (APE) of the proposed project is located in a paved street, this undertaking does not have a potential to cause adverse effects on historic properties,’” writes Welling.
She notes that since the project involves construction and earth moving activities it does not meet the criteria to show “no potential to cause effects.”
“As such, this undertaking should have been submitted to the SHPO and other consulting parties for review and comment prior to any construction activity,” wrote Welling.
Welling stated during the visit on Friday that she will recommend a public meeting be held before Phase II of the project in the village which is set to begin later this year and will involve other brick streets in the village. A separate decision from the SHPO will be made on that project.
Woodall stated that there will be a requirement included in the Phase II contract which ensures the bricks streets are put back in place.
Updates regarding the projects taking place in the village are planned to be posted to the village website, https://vomiddleport.wordpress.com/.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.