Countless numbers of Brookville residents past and present have trod up and down –or walked their bicycles up - the walled and often graffitied pathway that extends Franklin Avenue between St. Michaels Boulevard and Murphy Street. 

Last month, thanks to the Brookville Street Department, the slope mostly referred to as “the gravel hill” shed the nickname as recycled asphalt grindings replaced the rocky and weed-covered incline. It’s largely accepted that the hill had been virtually untouched, other than occasional weed control and mowing, for the last 50-plus years prior to this recent project.

According to the street department, storm damage in the spring felled a large tree across the path and placed it on an adjoining property line. The town decided to go ahead and trim the fallen tree but also took the opportunity to complete an improvement project that had been simmering on the back burner.

Over a few days the week of July 11-15, the department hauled loads of grindings from its 4th Street location over to St. Mike’s and got busy spreading them out across the hill. The last step was removing the old guard rail that blocks vehicular traffic at the top of the trail and installing a white picket fence in its stead.

Beyond the esthetic advantages, the department noted there are other pluses to the project. Children and families by foot, bicycle or golf cart will have a safer alternative to using High Street hill next to St. Michael Church or in the case of Oregon Hill south of Main Street, much safer. Upkeep will be more manageable and the hill we be more safeguarded from erosions and washouts. Potentially, if officials ever decide to pave the slope and open it for two-way vehicle traffic, the new base will make that future project much less costly.

Quality of sled riding still to be determined.

On another note, legend carries that the hill dates to the early part of the 20th century –or back to the 19th c. It was likely the main thoroughfare for horse-drawn carriages. Then when horses were sharing the roads with the first automobiles, it could be assumed that horse and buggy continued to choose this route versus the faster pace starting to quicken just off to the west.

Also, work was completed over the weekend on repaving East 7th Street along with some necessary updates for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. Per the department, the street had one of the lower PASER (Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating) scores and needed repair.

In more street department news, the town garage(s) previously housing the department and its equipment at 419 High Street was sold at the reserve minimum price of $85,000 to Sacksteder Properties, LLC, Trafalgar, at a public auction held July 20.

Registered agents for the LLC are Brent Sacksteder and Todd Sacksteder, the latter inking the purchase agreement a day later. Ten percent of the sum ($8,500) was to be deposited into escrow at First Title, Brookville, by close of business on the 21st as a down payment. The balance of the sale is payable no later than Aug. 20, 2022, unless an extension is agreed upon.

At the Brookville Town Council meeting of July 19, board president Curtis Ward had signed/disclosed four Conflict of Interest statements into the record “out of an abundance of caution.”

“For the sale of the old street department tomorrow, I have a business partner who’s expressed interest in bidding on it and a past client who will be bidding on it,” said Ward about this specific property, speaking to his position as a Century 21 realtor.

The street department has since moved its operation to 725 High Street, across the road from the old Zimmer Tractor building purchased by the town.