DERBY, Conn. (WTNH)– A piece of history will be removed Wednesday from the city of Derby. The last cobblestone street will be paved.
The best guess is the street has looked like this for about 300 years, covered in cobblestones, also known as Belgian blocks. They’re nice to look at, but if you have to drive on Caroline Street, especially in bad weather, you might want to rip these stones up too.
Ripping up the cobblestones is exactly what the city plans to do, starting Wednesday. A local history buff tells us that the stones were used as ballast in 18th century sailing ships coming here from Europe. When the ships got here, they didn’t need the ballast anymore and they started paving the roads with the blocks. For years there has been just this one small stretch of Caroline Street that still had cobblestones.
The city had been waffling about what to do with the Belgian blocks, but the complaints from people who live around here kept piling up.
“It’s very steep. Even when not snowing, just raining, Belgian blocks get very slippery,” said Mayor Anita Dugatto, City Of Derby.
“It’s really just a road that’s been neglected. I think if people had to shovel like I have through the years to get out of here, they would see there’s really no benefit,” said Mike Gladwell, Derby.
— Kent Pierce (@kentpierce8) September 14, 2016
Plowing was also a problem. Imagine the blade on a plow truck going over those stones after a snowstorm. Not easy. As someone who lived in Derby for 14 years, I can tell you I would never drive down this block of Caroline Street. I would always go around.
And it’s not like this is some remote section of town. We are literally one block away from city hall, right off Route 34, the busiest road in town.
What’s going to happen to those cobblestones?
There’s a backhoe parked up there that is going to pry up the stones, then they’re going to pave the street and hopefully use those stones somewhere in the city, not as paving material, but as some sort of history exhibit.