-James Osborne, News Editor
The city of Clinton is making some needed repairs to the historic brick streets, and Mayor Phil Fisher has been working firsthand, volunteering in Olde Towne Clinton. Work on the bricks has already started on Jefferson Street between Self Hall and Aven Hall and on the east side of Leake and Jefferson. Work continues on Jefferson Street. The portion closest to the college will continue to take priority in the renovation project during the winter months. The project is planned for the winter so that the bricks won’t be as hot as they are in the summer months. Because of budget cuts and other projects, the brick street renovation does not take top priority for the department of public works, but they are addressing it a little bit at a time as is convenient.
“The brick streets are a treasure of our city,” said Mayor Fisher, “and we have to preserve that treasure.” Fisher has a great interest in the history of the city and preserving that history. “The plan is for public works to take the bricks up and realign them and get them tightened back up again,” said Fisher. Restoring the brick streets has been on his agenda since he entered office over a year ago. The mayor said he would like to spend a couple hours a day throughout the winter to get everything done.
“Eventually, and I’m not sure how to do this yet, I’d like to get the asphalt off of Monroe Street and reveal the bricks underneath again,” said Fisher. Monroe was originally all brick but is now covered in a 4-inch layer of asphalt. Taking away the asphalt on Monroe Street is estimated to cost a quarter of a million dollars. Solutions could possibly include hiring a company to melt all of the asphalt off Monroe Street.
The bricks for the streets were first put down in 1928 and are now almost 90 years old. The city can’t make new bricks just like the old, but there are several of the old bricks in storage. Over the years when the street has had damage, previous city government administrations have put asphalt over the bricks. Attempts to repair the street have also left several gaps between the bricks or layered asphalt over dirt and concrete.
The mayor can be seen working on the brick streets with a sledgehammer and chisel trying to scrape off as much of the asphalt as he can. Fisher said he has fun and has a great workout. “It’s our city and I think everyone should volunteer,” said Fisher.
Besides setting an example of leadership, Fisher’s volunteer work also pays off in grant money. Some grants have “in-kind” service opportunities. For every hour that the mayor, or anyone else, spends volunteering with the renovation project, $16.50 goes toward a grant for restorations in Olde Towne. “It’s a real good way to not only volunteer, but to help the city raise grant money,” said Fisher.
“I was surprised,” said Ann Sims, sales associate at the MC bookstore, about Mayor Fisher working on the brick streets. “If he wants to do it I think that’s great. I’m real pleased that they are trying to improve and renovate downtown and Olde Towne,” said Sims.
The brick street renovation is just part of a city-wide beautification process. Also planned are new flowers along parts of Highway 80 and Northside Drive, and working with MDOT to expand parts of Highway 80 for bike and walking trails. “We are trying to get a pattern of landscaping along Highway 80 and all the major thoroughfares to have some type of uniformity,” said Fisher.
Mayor Fisher said that the whole idea behind the renovation and the beautification project is finding out what makes Clinton different than the rest of Hinds County and finding ways to make the city stand out.