Small businesses at the south end of Schuyler Avenue in Kearny are getting squeezed – all casualties of a prolonged flood mitigation undertaking by the town.
The problem has become yet another in a long list of hurdles to overcome over a multi-year period, which, up to now, the town has managed to handle.
These challenges included securing easements from neighboring property owners to locate a pump station behind the Hindu Community Center and a discharge force main across a developer’s property, getting permits from the DEP and financing from the N.J. Infrastructure Bank.
Finally, a little more than a year ago, the town awarded a $9.9 million contract for the installation of new storm water infrastructure and a storm water pump station to mitigate flooding east of Schuyler in and around Dukes Street, Devon Terrace, Tappan Street and Hoyt Street.
The job was expected to take a year to complete.
But over the past few weeks, a new complication has muddied the scenario as a contractor has been digging up Schuyler in the area around the aforementioned blocks south of Bergen Avenue to install sewer pipes, then repaving the street.
The KPD has had to block off north- and southbound traffic along that section of Schuyler, compelling motorists to detour around the area and that has caused some hardships for several smaller retailers and commercial businesses located along that stretch.
A sign has been posted at the corner of Bergen and Schuyler advising southbound drivers that Seabra’s Market remains open and cars may access the store’s parking lot but one store employee said that since the roadwork began a few weeks ago, business has been off.
At the May 24 meeting of the town governing body, Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos said the roadway disruption is likely to continue beyond the time anticipated for “six to eight weeks.” He acknowledged the situation has had “a dramatic impact” on the local businesses in the area.
Santos, Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone Coordinator John Peneda and David Silva of Neglia Engineering, the town’s Lyndhurst-based consulting engineering firm, recently met with several of the shop owners, including Seabra’s, Brazilian Spices, a used car dealer, a sign-maker, hardware store and a café to hear their concerns.
One problem several of the businesses share, according to Peneda, is truck deliveries of supplies. It’s tough for the drivers of larger vehicles to negotiate turns in and out of the narrow streets that the detours force them to use, he said.
Peneda said one idea that was discussed was that the shopkeepers could alert local police ahead of time about anticipated deliveries so that possibly, allowances could be made to let the trucks through during those scheduled times.
Some food vendors reported issues with deliveries involving private delivery services, Peneda added.
In a May 27 email, Santos said the town “adjusted the portion of Schuyler Avenue closed to through-traffic yesterday so as to improve access to the affected businesses.”
Before that, he said, “most traffic was detoured at Harrison Avenue which reduced customer flow and made deliveries difficult for the businesses on Schuyler between Hoyt and Duke streets. We will re-assess next week but we think the new traffic pattern will address most of the concerns.”
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Ron Leir | For The Observer
Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc.
He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter.
He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based WHATCo. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, New York