Mall battle: Arena, city face off over broken bricks
Four years after the $7 million re-bricking of the Downtown Mall, a patch of damaged bricks along the edge of the Main Street Arena near Water Street is pitting a property owner against the city in a dispute over who's responsible for the repairs.
"They have been in this condition for almost a year," wrote Arena General Manager Will van der Linde in an email sent last July to the city in advance of the planned visit by Michelle Obama, which was cancelled in the wake of the mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.
"Anything you can do to attend to this problem would be appreciated," van der Linde wrote.
The city fired back a week later with a letter from Parks and Rec Director Brian Daly, who cites a 1995 agreement between the city and the property's original developers assigning the responsibility for repairing storm and sewer lines under the bricks and for replacing the damaged bricks.
The failure, wrote Daly, was of a drain and pipe under the bricks. "I am advising Main Street LLC that you have thirty days from the receipt of this letter to develop a plan of action for remediation of the defects."
Arena owner Mark Brown was quick to dispute Daly's assessment, asserting in a letter to Daly that the storm and sewer lines were in working order and that the area of damaged bricks is outside the bricked area that the Arena must maintain.
"As you can plainly see the area in question is not included in the private maintenance area, therefore the obligation for maintaining those bricks is the city's," wrote Brown.
For pedestrian Kevin Cox, the issue is more than cosmetic, and he's outraged that the city has allowed the bricks to remain in their current condition for more than two years, regardless of who's ultimately financially responsible for their repair.
"It's a hazard, it's ugly and it's way overdue," says Cox, a pedestrian activist, whose wife is visually impaired. He's particularly incensed that the city initially marked the damage with cones, then with 2x4s, neither of which are ADA compliant, before finally erecting an ADA compliant plastic wall, which was blown down in early March and has yet to be re-erected.
"Little things affect quality of life in the city and the appearance of the city," says Cox, citing other examples, including a bike wheel that he says was left chained to the Drewary Brown Bridge on West Main Street for months.
"They make the city look scruffy as hell," says Cox, who wonders why the western-most portion of the Mall wasn't rebricked along with the rest of the Mall.
"Council felt that that section was a good bit newer than the other section," says Neighborhood Planning director Jim Tolbert. "At the time, they didn't feel it was in bad shape, so they decided not to do it.
As for the damaged bricks, assistant city attorney Richard Harris says he sent Brown two additional letters in March warning him that he must present plans for completing the repairs by April 11 or the city will complete the work and send him the bill.
"I wish them well on that one," says Brown, who stands by his earlier letter. "We've reviewed the documents, and it's clear they're responsible for the repairs," he says of the city. "If they think they're going to send me a letter or a bill to make me nervous, they're barking up the wrong tree."Read more on: Main Street Arena