Restaurant owner frustrated by construction project
By Joe Moskowitz
There may be light at the end of a water tunnel for a Roxbury business owner.
For almost two months, Katie Oliveri, owner of the East Branch Cafe in Roxbury, has been staring at a full parking lot. Under normal circumstances, that would be good news, but instead it has been destroying her business because the lot has been filled with construction equipment that hasn’t been used for construction. It is just sitting there, preventing customers from seeing the lot, blocking entrance doors, and making it difficult for some people to even be able to see that her place is open.
The problem starts on Lake Street. It is several hundred feet from her café, across from Roxbury Central School. There is no lake on Lake Street, but Roxbury Town Councilman Gene Cronk told the News that it got that name because it used to flood there so often.
The water would flow off of the ridge, there is a Ridge Street, and cause flooding.
Change of plans
Years ago, engineers dug under Route 30, which is Main street, and installed a culvert so the water would flow from Lake Street, under Main Street, and what is now the East Branch parking lot and empty into what has always been the East Branch of the Delaware River. Most of the time that has worked.
Because of recent floods it was determined that a much bigger tunnel would have to be dug to handle the water. The digging was started on both sides of Route 30. Everything was set to go, but then the New York State Department of Transportation found what Cronk called a minor problem with the town’s application to dig under the road and that resulted in a delay.
The town recently got the go ahead from the state to proceed with the work and it came not a moment too soon. There is some fear that it came a few days too late.
Oliveri said she has been patient, but one of her workers said it is difficult to watch potential customers drive by because there is no place to park. Olivieri and Cronk are both fearful that with the arrival of winter weather, the project may remain on hold until spring. They were hoping the work would have begun Monday but it did not.
Roxbury Town Clerk Diane Pickett said the project is supposed to be completed by the beginning of January. Cronk said he hopes so. He said it is hurting the business and he said that’s something Roxbury can’t afford.