BY KATIE HOOS
Con Edison work to repair gas lines will simultaneously occur alongside the Palmer Avenue Streetscape construction, throwing a wrench in the original project plans.
With work initially slated to begin July 7 along the west side of Palmer Avenue from Depot Way to the north side of Chatsworth Avenue as far as the Railroad Bridge, the Village of Larchmont had to adjust its plans for the streetscape project to accommodate Con Ed, which is working along the same portion of roadway.
“We were stunned,” Larchmont Mayor Anne McAndrews, a Democrat, said regarding Con Ed’s last minute notice of its gas line work. “But we’re going ahead and rearranging our plans to accommodate the work simultaneously. Con Ed is ‘numero uno,’ very important stuff, but it’s most unfortunate with timing. We just have to adjust.”
To avoid conflicting with Con Edison’s work, the streetscape construction will likely start on the southern end of Palmer Avenue, near the intersection of Palmer and Glen Lake Drive, and will head north toward the intersection of Palmer and West avenues.
The streetscape construction was originally supposed to begin on the northern end of Palmer Avenue and work its way south, but changed course to accommodate Con Ed. Con Ed’s gas main work, which began last week, is expected to be completed in August. Con Ed, which was working in the area overnight, will be working 24-hours a day beginning this week to help speed the process up.
McAndrews said the street-
scape plans the village submitted to Con Ed are still being finalized, and is uncertain as to the start date for the project.
With construction still up in the air, village residents and business owners expressed mixed reactions toward the impact of the streetscape project.
Lee Rubin, owner of Wendy Gee, a gift shop and home accessory boutique located at 1949 Palmer Ave., said the project is a long time coming and something the village needs.
“Let’s hope this time they get it done,” he said. “We have to be patient and just be glad they’re finally working on it. I think the town needs a little cleaning up.”
Larchmont resident Kathy Tabora, 35, said she is looking forward to the end results of the streetscape and the benefits it will have for pedestrians.
“The sidewalk is a little bit narrow,” she said. “I’m for working on the sidewalk since we walk my daughter to school. Improvement is always a good thing. If it’s for improvement, it’s worth sticking it out for a few months.”
Meanwhile, some believe the project will cause more harm than is necessary.
John Billet, a Larchmont resident, said although he sees both the benefits and the drawbacks to the project, he thinks it will cause major congestion.
“I’m not looking forward to it because it’s going to overcrowd the place,” Billet, 60, said.
Similarly, 46-year-old Larchmont resident David Feldman said he doesn’t see the project’s overall benefits.
“To me, it seems unnecessary,” he said. “I didn’t think it was happening anymore. It does have a poor impact on the town.”
Addressing the concerns of residents and business owners over how the overlapping Con Ed and streetscape construction might impact the downtown, McAndrews said the village aimed to begin the streetscape during “the deadest part of the year” to accommodate the business climate.
“I am concerned about the merchants, but this is to enhance the business district,” she said. “The end product will be something residents and property owners will really appreciate and will hopefully create an attractive area for new businesses to come in.”
The streetscape project, which intends to widen and replace 4,000 square feet of sidewalk, plant trees and install new benches, streetlamps and trash and recycling receptacles along Palmer, Chatsworth and Larchmont avenues, has experienced numerous setbacks and came to a halt in June 2013 when the village issued a stop work order for the Mount Vernon-based DiMarino Brothers, the former contractor on the project.
DiMarino Brothers was declared in default of the contract in July 2013 for “failures to comply with the terms and conditions” of the contract when work was not progressing.
The project has been on the drawing board since 2000 and was initially slated to begin October 2012, but was postponed until Spring 2013 due to setbacks stemming from paperwork issues and inclement weather. This past April, Selective Insurance Company of Americas, the surety company that issued the performance bond guaranteeing satisfactory completion of the project, selected Lincolndale-based contractor McNamee Construction Corporation to pick up the project.
The project will be broken into several different phases, with each phase taking one to two weeks to complete. Construction will take place weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Even with Con Ed’s work thrown into the situation, McAndrews said the village is doing its best to ensure the effective completion of the streetscape, which was originally projected to be completed by Thanksgiving. The project’s completion date, however, is now up in the air following the additional delays with Con Edison, McAndrews said.
“The bad part of the delay is that we look incompetent, and I cannot stress enough that we have full time staff and professionals all on this,” she said. “But this is one of those projects that turned out to be much more difficult than I imagined.”