The roundabout in Downtown Utica is set to be completed by the end of October. And many people are ready for it to be finished. But no one seems to be more ready for it to be over with than some surrounding businesses.
Carmen Hernandez moved from Boston to Utica last spring and started Lily's Party Store in March. "I was so excited," she says, "the bus stop was right there in front of my store, so I was excited."
Soon after she opened she says construction began and the business that was starting to grow slowed drastically. She says people think she's closed, are concerned about parking, and don't know where to walk. And she's not alone. Johanny Franco of Johanny's Hair Parlor says she's lost about 80-90% of her business and doesn't know if she'll recover. "A customer could go to a new place and then stay there because they like it," Franco said.
Franco's neighbor at Tu Cocina Restaurant is concerned about paying her bills. She says her restaurant used to be bustling and now it's almost empty all the time. All three businesses are particularly upset with the city for not helping them out. Some businesses have had signs advertising their store or restaurant near the detour areas reminding customers that they're open. Franco says she went to Utica City Hall a few weeks ago to try and get a sign and was told construction would be done September 17th and was discouraged from getting it so late in the game.
Mayor David Roefaro tells Eyewitness News no one has made him aware of these issues. "They have not contacted us, but most of the people there are actually having record sales for the month of September during this construction," he said. He encourages any business owner to contact his office if they'd like to put a sign up and he'll make sure that it's done.