Businesses concerned about construction along Main Street in Indian Orchard
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – What started as a construction project to help businesses and restaurants in Indian Orchard now has a restaurant owner who fears it may have to close.
The ongoing construction, Hanna Kucharczyk said, has removed parking spaces in front of her restaurant and made it difficult for most of her older clientele to dine there.
“Right now, you see yourself. It’s an empty place and I’m telling you yesterday was very slow,” said Kucharczyk, owner of Hanna’s Diner and Deli Shoppe.
Mother’s Day, which is usually one of the best working days of the year at Hanna’s Diner and Deli Shoppe, has been eerily quiet this year, Kucharczyk told Western Mass News.
“If I’m going to be that slow, then I’ll close because there’s no money. No money, no paid employees, no paid bills,” Kucharczyk explained.
Kucharczyk’s restaurant, located at the intersection of Main Street in Indian Orchard and Pinevale Street in Springfield, is affected by a traffic project to improve pedestrian safety in the neighborhood, which includes reducing Main Street from four lanes to two lanes, the addition of crosswalks, and additional parking spaces.
However, in the meantime, this has reduced the number of parking spaces available outside the restaurant for its older clientele.
“I’m disabled myself, so I myself know what it’s like to try to cross that street. [Reporter: how is it?] Terrible,” said Linda Yarber of Springfield.
We raised our concerns with State Representative Orlando Ramos, who was on city council when the finances for the project, awarded by MassDOT, were approved last July.
“It will be done shortly… We ask people to be patient, but there will be a pedestrian crossing there… We will make sure there is plenty of disabled parking, plenty of parking accessible,” Ramos said.
Ramos told Western Mass News it was a Springfield Department of Public Works project and he said he confirmed with the city that in-person meetings had been held with business owners beforehand. He also said they are partnering with UMass Amherst to help improve safety while attracting more businesses to Indian Orchard.
“It has a lot of potential to be a food district, which is one of the ideas that I like, and we want to make sure that we give restaurants an opportunity to be successful,” Ramos added.
DPW city officials have not yet responded to our request for comment. We checked in with the office of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. They told us that notice was sent to businesses by MassDOT, the city and the Ward 8 Neighborhood Council.
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