NEWBURYPORT — Broken sidewalks often generate calls to City Hall. But residents on one Newburyport street recently ignored the complaint part and fixed a walkway themselves.
A stretch along the handsome residential thoroughfare of Marlboro Street fell into disrepair in recent years, in part because mature shade trees were uprooting aging layers of cement.
This fall Leah McGavern of 21 Marlboro and Dana Hooper of 25 Marlboro saw a need and talked with city officials about it.
A plan was agreed upon and the neighbors went to work. Curbs were raised and asphalt was peeled off heavy roots. Then hundreds of bricks were wrestled into place.
The result is a "new" brick sidewalk running 240-by-4 feet along the east side of the street.
Pedestrians appear pleased with the improvement and those who put in the work are proud of the autumn undertaking.
"We had families from four houses and we completed the job in about a week and a half," said McGavern, an architect.
"It's a beautiful street, but in this case it had asphalt and concrete sidewalks from many years ago. The brick look goes with what we have here."
The bricks in front of 21 Marlboro are "antique," and McGavern got them from a friend who traces their origin to old construction in Boston.
Bricks in front of the three other residences are of a newer vintage, but the mix works.
The women put more than sweat into the project — they estimate the four families split a cost of about $6,000.
"We had a lot of help on this," said Hooper. "Those who work for the street department were out here with machines and shovels and really cared about the project.
"Ted Norton, a contractor, helped plan and supervise. It was a team effort, including others in the neighborhood."
Also contributing this fall were Cliff Goudey, husband of Leah; Bob Miller, husband of Dana; Charmaine and Matt McDermott; and entrepreneur David Hall, who owns an apartment complex on the street.
"We were happy to be part of it," said Allen Frost, general foreman with the city's Department of Public Services. "We had machines here to raise curbs and level the base of the sidewalks.
"This is an example of local residents working really hard to improve (city) property in front of their houses, which makes the whole neighborhood look better."