Yes, there is a cost!

I know this may appear as ‘too little too late’ but I would like to remind those who live in the Newburyport Historic District and have the good fortune to have historic brick or at least some brick on the sidewalk in front of your house; not to use rock salt.

The appropriate application for brick in winter is clean sand.       You can easily purchase for little money, clean bags of sand at Lunt & Kelly’s or at the big hardware stores.       If you are poor like me, you can also be really environmentally efficient and get sand from the quarry at March’s Hill or from the beach sand of Plum Island.      I assure you, it won’t affect the island’s survivability if we all take small amounts!

Why is it important?     Well, there is the common sense reason: or, to put it in another way, ‘Duh, don’t be stupid!”     Brick is a porous material.     When salt comes into contact with it, the moisture that is naturally within the clay will begin to be extracted.       This causes a cake-icing look to appear on the outside of the masonry.     Once the moisture is extracted, the brick will soon begin to crumble.        I was simply amazed when I saw the Institution for Savings recently pour bucket loads of money into new bricking for their sidewalks only to see their inattentive staff later slather rock salt over the brick.      Sure enough, there is already some of the new brick beginning to crumble.       Someone should slap a piece of paper on their front door clearing stating, “Spendthrifts!”      Apparently they are so loaded with cash they can afford to waste it.      

For a more detailed and kinder explanation, check out my previous post.

Now the reason I made the title, “Yes, there is a cost” is because some people have been whining over the extra expense resulting from living in the historic district.      These are part of the classic ‘I want my cake and eat it too’ crowd.      Some object to the muddy affect that results in having sand on the sidewalks.    Even though the sand falls into the cracks between the bricks and stabilizes the surface; they don’t like tracking in the mud into the house.     Aside that rock salt is a real killer to your garden; this little inconvenience is all part of the privilege of living in a special place.     

Just living amongst an inventory that represents only 8.3% of the homes in America naturally makes our architecture and our environment not common.      Our challenges to insulate, craft, decorate and renovate/restore are all out of the ordinary and it will cost.    

If you’re poor like me, you scrimp and save (which all takes time) and find creative ways to get the same job done that some High Street ‘pour money over the property’ owners will manage to do.  

And why do we all do it, regardless of our economic or skill level?

Because Newburyport is one damn-fine place to live and if we don’t; we’ll eventually end up looking like any other community – and suffer the same fate as any other community.


So as 2013 approaches and money will continue to be tight for most of us; don’t be tempted to cut corners.     Let’s keep Newburyport the special place it truly is!

-P. Preservationist

This entry was posted in Environment, Health and wellness, Heritage Tourism, Planning, Preservation, Quality of Life, Renovation, Restoration, sidewalks. Bookmark the permalink.

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