German Village's charming brick sidewalks help promote the old-world appeal that so many residents - and visitors - cherish.

German Village's charming brick sidewalks help promote the old-world appeal that so many residents - and visitors - cherish.

But, as many residents will attest, they are expensive to maintain and replace.

So a committee of the German Village Society is looking into ways to help locals preserve their brick sidewalks. Members of the streetscape committee said they worry that lower-cost concrete will become a more attractive option and that German Village could lose some of its character.

One suggestion was to create a "brick bank," a loan program administered through the GVS that would allow homeowners to borrow the money and pay it back at a low interest rate. That would require the solicitation of donations and the blessing of the society's board of trustees.

Carolyn McCall, a member of the committee, suggested creating a list of preferred vendors and convincing some contractors to do the work at a reduced price.

Property owners replacing sidewalks must get approval from the German Village Commission, the local architectural review board. Jay Panzer, chairman of the board, said the committee usually frowns upon the use of concrete.

"Brick is the traditional paving material for streets and sidewalks in German Village," he said. "Though street and sidewalk paving bricks differ, they both differ from those typically used for residential construction in that they are considerably harder and, therefore, more resistant to wear from traffic and weather."

Ron Hoy, owner of R&J Concrete and Custom Design on the East Side, said the cost to tear out and replace concrete is $4 to $5 a square foot; brick is at least twice that much, and labor is a big part of the expense.

One option is to stamp the concrete so it resembles a brick facade and dye it red, Hoy said.

McCall acknowledged the cost is a challenge for some people who live in German Village, but what they get in return is inherently valuable.

"Our brick sidewalks and streets are such an iconic piece of German Village, and I think we have to do whatever we can to encourage people to use brick and find some ways to help that be possible," she said.