Chester is old…very old. Settled in 1644 and incorporated as a city in 1866, it’s one of those places that has been holding on for a very long time with old buildings, old streets, and old stuff under the streets. Without a steady infusion of ‘repeal and replace’ of our buildings, roads, and utilities, we’re left with a hodge-podge of stuff falling down and falling in.
There’s hardly a block without an abandoned building. There is hardly a block with a fully paved street. Who knows what the condition of the pipes are underground.
Unfortunately, there is no money in city government to support infrastructure upgrades. It’s unthinkable to expect any politician to campaign on smooth paved roads with real yellow lines painted down the middle. There’s occasional talk of getting rid of run down buildings but that usually is coupled with the hope of grants and outside money. Thankfully, Chester’s main thoroughfares are state roads and receive funds from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for upkeep giving us some relief on well traveled streets.
The block between 6th & 7th and Welsh streets is a perfect example of a best effort to fix a street becoming compromised by what’s going on under the street. You recall the extraordinarily long process to replace the street and sidewalk last June (if not, click HERE). It took less than 10 months for the street to start caving in with a huge sink hole big enough to swallow a first grade class.
I learned that a old terra-cotta (clay) water pipe was crushed and water washed away the substructure causing that sink hole. Not long after the street was repaired, new ripples appeared just 50 feet up the block.
So, as of today, Welsh Street is closed again to make the latest repair. If you walk around the street you’ll see every color of spray paint marking underground stuff. That tells me that this may not be the last repair on this block.
If you hurry, you can see the cobblestones that still sit right under the surface of the asphalt proving how old our streets are. I’m sure the construction guys hate having to dig with those things in the way.
Down on third and Jeffery someone is demolishing an old building one brick at a time…or at least it seems. The structure is so unstable, someone had the presence of mind to close off the entire block to protect traffic and pedestrians from a tragedy waiting to happen.
It’s definitely an eyesore to see so much blight in one little town. But, what can we do about it? As one of my Immaculate Heart of Mary nuns would say, ‘I’m old and gray and weary.’ She could just as well be talking about the city of Chester.