Sixth Street future remains a mystery

Residents fighting to keep historic brick road may have an uphill battle to raise funds

The effort to preserve a portion of Sixth Street as a vintage all-brick road continues, but questions remain over the path to success.

Sixth Street between Garfield Avenue and County Line Road is scheduled to be resurfaced next year, and residents along that stretch were told in January that the village would pay only the cost of using asphalt on most of the road.

To keep it brick, a special service area would need to be established through a vote of included homeowners to cover the significantly higher price tag.

At the historic preservation commission meeting Tuesday night, Commissioner Bill Haarlow, a Sixth Street resident who is leading the campaign to maintain the brick, told his colleagues that supporters will need to come up with $2 million.

“We’re looking at a 30-year property tax increase for people to pay the amount, so you can spread that among the people that will be living in those homes over the next 30 years,” he said of the SSA.

A delay in receiving the estimate prompted the village to extend the deadline from July 1 to July 16 for residents to inform the village of its desire regarding an SSA, Haarlow said.

“Between now and mid-July, the residents have to make a decision as to whether or not they’re going to support a special service area. That decision will be, I think, impacted, in part, on who is included in the SSA,” he explained. “Is it people who have Sixth Street addresses? Is it people who have Sixth Street frontage? Is it people who have driveways on Sixth Street? There are several different ways to slice and dice that. No determination on that has been made yet.”

The net of contributors could be further widened to the Robbins Park Subdivision or even the entire village. But Haarlow expects less support in a bigger pool.

“There does not seem to be a lot of positive feeling amongst our volunteer group that there would be any success on the village level,” he said.

“There also does not seem to be any belief that there would be success on the district level, and so we’re currently thinking that it is really up to Sixth Street to do this. I don’t, frankly, we feel that we have the wherewithal or the time to try to get on board people beyond the 30-some residents who are on these four blocks of Sixth Street.”

Commissioner Shannon Weinberger asked if private donations could be made toward the effort. Haarlow said such giving opportunities are being explored, including the possibility of people helping defray the increased property tax burden.

“(That) would be based on the assessed valuation of the home on that property, via the village’s 501c3, whether it was a gift or the actual property tax payment, and those are two different things, whether one or both of those might be tax deductible,” he replied.

At a village board meeting in January, Village President Tom Cauley expressed his firm opposition to the village paying to replace the bricks.

“You can come every meeting from now to July 1 and ask me, or the board, to pay for the entire $2.8 million to do four blocks in all brick and the answer from me is always going to be the same: No,” he told brick street supporters. “We can continue to have this conversation, but you’re not going to change my mind.”

Haarlow said can’t yet discern the outcome but said he and his neighbors will continue the cause.

“There are a group of us who are trying to push this forward,” he said. “It is not easy to do, and we always feel like we’re playing catch up.”

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean