What to do with a historic stone wall?

FAIRFIELD – A historic stone wall along US 127 that dates back to an early 1900s estate is in poor condition and lies mostly in the public right-of-way.

And now it’s up to city leaders to decide what to do with the structure and how much money should be spent.

“Nothing has been put in place regarding the upkeep and upkeep of the wall,” said Mark Wendling, City Manager. “We assumed it was the owners’ responsibility until we found out it was in the city’s grip.”

The 860-foot-long wall was built on the west side of US 27 – also known as Pleasant Avenue – between Hunter Road and the Emerald Lakes subdivision. It runs behind eight properties in the Parliament Hills subdivision, built between the early to mid-1970s.

At the start of last year, staff members noticed significant issues with the wall, said Greg Kathman, director of the city’s development services. In March 2019, the city hired the Kleingers group to do a visual structural analysis.

Portions of the wall have fallen or are collapsing. Other sections contain flowers and foliage. Parts of the wall lean in different directions, Kathman said.

This stone wall on US 127 in Fairfield was built around 1900 and is deteriorating, with foliage sticking out.

The results of the study showed that trees and their roots have an impact on the wall of which 35% are unstable and 85% are unstable when the soil is saturated, said Mike Brunner, former Fairfield resident and structural engineer at the retirement of the Kleingers group.

“When there is heavy rain … (it) saturates the ground and creates a destabilizing effect,” Brunner said.

Another problem, he said, is the slope of the road.

“The levels on either side of the wall have changed dramatically from where they were when the wall was built,” Brunner said. “The surface of the pavement on Pleasant Avenue was much lower and it was filled – 10.12 feet at the highest point.”

Three options for repairing or replacing the wall have prices ranging from $ 115,000 to $ 432,000.

Spending money on fixing the wall may not be a good idea, Mayor Steve Miller said, as the city plans to widen the road to two lanes in the future.

“I don’t know how much we should invest in this with the right possibility that over the next five to ten years it will go away,” Miller said. “Pleasant Avenue needs to be widened. I hate to see us spending money on something like this when we (may) have to tear it down.

City Councilor Chad Oberson said he didn’t agree with putting money in the wall – except for a minimal amount for security reasons.

This was also the thought of Councilor Tim Abbott, who chairs the council’s finance and budget committee.

“Let’s put it in the capital improvement program next year unless it’s a huge safety issue – but I don’t hear that now,” he said.

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