Okay, the next time you visit Market Square — and we really do hope that's soon — try to guess how many Belgian blocks surround the new terrazzo plaza where the Farmers Market will set up this Thursday from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Just so you know, you won't win a jar of jelly beans if your answer's correct. But you'll sure develop an appreciation for the guys who spent months on their hands and knees placing each of those pieces in place — one block at a time.
Now, if you were in the Square around lunchtime this past Monday, you might have noticed Frank Manno laying the final block just across Market Street from Mixsters. And you couldn't have helped but see the big smile on his face when the job was done, sort of like he finished a giant jigsaw puzzle that he started last December. Even when the rest of us were snowed under this past February, Frank and Nino Costa and Anthony Merante were clearing away the white stuff so they could get back to work.
So we asked Frank if he knew how many blocks were in the Square and here's what he told us. "I don't know, but it seems like a million to me." Well, the truth is, there are approximately 50,000 blocks in the Square, according to Anthony, owner of Merante Contracting. That's about two blocks for every square foot of space they cover. And every time you step on one of those stones, keep in mind that about 75 percent of the blocks are recycled from the old Square. The rest are reused from other projects.
Here's something else to think about. Frank and his crew eyeballed each and every block to get a perfect fit. And then they made sure that each stone was level and on the Square, so to speak. With the last block down, the Square is a little closer to being finished. And that's a mighty big step.