Harford County replaces Bel Air courthouse walkways

The area in front of the Harford County Courthouse in Bel Air has been a construction zone recently as a contractor has been busy rebuilding the brick walkways the county says were deteriorating.

"Caulk and mortar joints are failing, bricks are deteriorating, breaking and are not consistently level, and the transitions between the brick and the concrete borders are not level," Harford County Facilities and Operations Chief Tim Myers said via e-mail.

"In an effort to improve the overall appearance of the courthouse property and to minimize the safety risks to Harford County citizens and employees alike, we will be replacing the deteriorating walkways with new brick stone pavers starting with the area immediately in front of the courthouse," he wrote last week.

"This work schedule has been coordinated with courthouse personnel so as to minimize the disruption to the judges and other workers in the building, specifically coordinating the work with [Circuit Court] Judge [Stephen] Waldron's vacation schedule as his courtroom is on the Main [Street] side of the building," Myers wrote.

The $21,395 project had been set to start about a week ago, but because of "a miscommunication on the vendor's part" only started on Friday, he wrote.

The construction work is being done by Woodfield Landscaping Inc., and involves demolishing 1,400 square feet of concrete and brick work in front of the courthouse between the Main Street entry and the top of the stairs to the street-level sidewalk, Myers said.

Over the weekend, debris was set to be removed and a proper base laid, with new brick being installed this week, he said.

"After searching for a product that would complement and match as closely as possible to the existing brick, Coventry Brick Stone, Autumn Blend, by EP Henry was selected," Myers wrote. "As earlier photos of the courthouse showed the walkways around the courthouse in what appears to be concrete, we did not seek the approval of the Historic Preservation Commission."

The work is set to be finished Friday.

Besides affecting some weekday business, the work also forced Bel Air's First Friday to be moved across the street.

Bel Air Downtown Alliance director Scott Walker said the show was instead held on the small parking lot between the Harford County Sheriff's Office and Main Street Tower.

Although "they gave us a small heads-up" about the construction, Walker said most people seemed fine with the change of venue.

"It actually worked out great," he said, adding he was only "50-50" on it because while it works in the fall, there would probably not be enough shade during the summer.

With one First Friday event left, Walker said he has not heard yet if construction would still be going on then, but thought the Alliance would be fine with holding it on that parking lot again if it had to.

Myers said the Lunchtime Concert, which takes place on Fridays in September, will not be affected.

He added that the Town of Bel Air is planning to restore the sidewalks along Office and Courtland streets at some point for similar reasons.

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