Life in a construction zone starts in July —and Pelham Bay’s small businesses are dreading the upcoming mayhem.
The east Bronx neighborhood’s merchants are bracing for a rough stretch after getting their first glimpse of the MTA’s plan to renovate the Buhre Avenue No. 6 elevated train station on Westchester Avenue.
“Parking in this neighborhood is atrocious to begin with, and this will make it much worse,” said Raymond Macioci of Pilgrim Pharmacy, which sits directly under what will soon be a construction zone at the intersection.
Macioci was one of over 30 local merchants who packed local eatery Honey Thai Pavilion on May 20 to hear from NYC Transit personnel and the city’s contractor, Yonkers Contracting, first-hand.
Choosing a ‘stage’
The city wrapped up the first stage of its multi-million dollar Number 6 line revamp, on the Castle Hill and Middletown Road stations, in early May of this year.
But the construction faces a whole new set of challenges when it starts work in July on the Buhre Avenue stop – a shopping area where five streets collide.
Plans call for much of Buhre Avenue to be blocked off until the work is targeted to be completed in February 2015.
Both sides of Pilgrim and Edison avenues will be used as so-called “staging areas” holding construction equipment.
Nearby Crosby Avenue, for now, is safe.
Besides concerns over parking, local business owners are worried about conducting day-to-day operations.
“I have no idea how we are going to make our deliveries,” said Sal Alrubai of Pruzzo’s Supermarket, the neighborhood staple at the foot of the el.
“We have 18-wheelers coming in at all hours of the day, and we need at least 100 feet of empty area.”
Other businesses that normally benefit from being so close to the train griped that customers will be less likely to make the trek to their shop through a work site.
“Of course it’s going to affect me more than most,” said Manny Manassakis at Quality Café at Buhre and Westchester avenues. “The subway steps end right at my door.”
At least they’re talking
MTA officials on hand said that they would work with businesses to coordinate delivery and sanitation schedules –and pledged that the workers would respect the local shops.
‘”If anyone is disrespectful, call me,” said Jackie Carter, assistant director of community relations at NYC Transit. “These are your neighbors for the next seven months. You don’t have to put up with that.”
Merchants plan to go on a walk-through of the site with the MTA before June 10, when there will be another meeting, open to the public, at St. Theresa’s Church.
“It’s going to be a mess, but it’s work that has to happen, said Irene Guanill, president of the Pelham Bay Merchants Association. “We at least appreciate that they came to us to initiate an open dialogue.”