Coal bins filled up along with sidewalk repair in Franklin Grove
FRANKLIN GROVE – Underneath the streets of many 19th century towns lie coal bins.
In Franklin Grove, they run the length of the business district on Elm Street, said village trustee Tony Schaneberg, who also sits on the streets and alleys committee.
One section at a time, they’re being filled up.
The Lincoln Way Cafe decided to take advantage of the village’s sidewalk program, which partially reimburses property owners for the cement used to fix their sidewalks, because the walk was going to be closed for 3 weeks.
It seemed like good timing, Schaneberg said, so a number of businesses along Elm decided to do it all at once.
Schaneberg ran into village engineer Ralph Tompkins as the work was going on.
He asked about how tall the curb was. Tompkins told him 8 feet.
“He said when he was little, he used to pop the manhole cover, crawl down in there on top of the coal and run underneath the whole street down there to the building that his parents owned,” Schaneberg said.
Schaneberg hadn’t really thought about what lies beneath Franklin Grove’s streets, but he said he’s not surprised. Lots of towns, including Sterling and Rock Falls, had coal bins.
“I didn’t know it was there,” said Max Baumgardner, a member of the Franklin Grove Area Historical Society. “I’ve only been here 20 years, and I’ve heard about every wild story that Tony could tell.”
To fix the sidewalk – it’s deteriorating with age and the curb is falling into the street – it makes sense in terms of cost to fill in the vault with sand and then put the sidewalk on top, Schaneberg said.
It’s up to the property owners, he said, how they want to complete the project.
The village still has some funds left over for sidewalk projects, Schaneberg said. It’s first-come, first-served, and property owners receive $250 per square foot in reimbursement.