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Derby digging up its last historic cobblestone street for ‘safety reasons’

DERBY — A Connecticut city is saying goodbye to its last cobblestone street, but not everyone is happy about it. Derby's mayor says the change has to happen, but residents wish the change didn't have to include removing some of their history.

Derby Mayor Anita Dugatto said the cobblestone, or "Belgian block," portion of Caroline Street will be removed due to "safety reasons." Work begins on Wednesday morning and is expected to last a couple of weeks.

Dugatto told FOX 61 that losing the cobblestone is "regrettable," but necessary to improve safety.

She said the road becomes very slippery and dangerous during wet or icy weather. She also said the uneven road, which has needed to be patched several times in the past, is rough on vehicles and city snow plows.

Dugatto said the decision was made during several city meetings, but most residents say they only heard about the change this week.

"I received a phone call from the mayor asking me to videotape the dismantling of the cobble stones and I was actually offended by it. It caught me by surprise," said lifelong Derby resident Markanthony Izzo.

Izzo said he refused to document the project, and instead shared this news in a letter to the editor and on social media. He hoped to make other Derby residents aware before it was too late.

"It's derby's history. Once you forget how you got here, you're going to forget how to get to where you're going," Izzo said.

On Tuesday, many Derby residents stopped by "Cobblestone Hill" to see it one last time. Several took photos.

Mayor Dugatto said the stones will be preserved at the city's public works facility. She hopes they will be used in a future project, possibly during the widening of Derby's Main Street or around benches downtown.