Westcott Street business owners call road project a 'disaster'

Save The Rain construction project on Westcott Street, Syracuse

Business owners along Syracuse's Westcott Street are upset about the ongoing $852,000 construction project just outside their doors. The construction work is being done as part of Onondaga County's "Save The Rain" project.

A webpage dedicated to the Westcott Street project indicates it will capture up to one inch of rainfall at a given time, reducing annual stormwater runoff by approximately 1,180,000 gallons. The design also promises the installation of several green infrastructure elements that will capture stormwater and enhance the urban landscape.

26 business owners are now banding together, fed up with the disruption they say the project is causing. "We've had meetings before to discuss the loss of parking and hazardous narrowing of the streets, yet none of our concerns have been addressed," Lorraine Koury wrote to CNYcentral on Tuesday. "We're desperately worried about the negative impacts of the future. The new traffic pattern created by the construction is extremely dangerous," she added.

The project is being done in four phases, with the final paving of the street to be complete in June 2014.

Onondaga County says it did more public outreach about this project than nearly any other â??Save The Rainâ?? project to date. â??If people had been throwing up red flags about this, we would not have done it. We donâ??t impose these things on a neighborhood,â?? said Matt Millea, Deputy County Executive for Physical Services. Millea went on to say, â??This is an all hands on deck project, and we have done extensive outreach to business owners.â??

One of the issues, related to traffic turns out to be theft. Some of the signs directing traffic have been stolen, Millea said. They are replaced as soon as project managers notice they are gone.

As for business complaints, Millea says the situation on Westcott Street is similar to what business owners on Genesee Street endured during the construction of the Connective Corridor project. He believes the outcome of that project was worth the temporary inconveniences.

Business owners plan to meet Wednesday with project managers at 2:00 p.m. at Beer Belly Deli on Westcott Street to talk about what's next.

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