Click photo to enlarge
Bennington Town Manager Stuart A. Hurd, right, listens Wednesday as Northside Drive business owners protest plans to improve the road during the height of the fall tourist season./Peter Crabtree
Bennington Town Manager Stuart A. Hurd, right, listens Wednesday as Northside Drive business owners protest plans to improve the road during the height of
Bennington Town Manager Stuart A. Hurd, right, listens Wednesday as Northside Drive business owners protest plans to improve the road during the height of the fall tourist season./Peter Crabtree
Thursday August 1, 2013

ELIZABETH CONKEY

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Northside Drive business owners are upset after receiving a notice two weeks ago informing them of water main construction that is set to begin today.

The work is slated between the Orchard Road/Hicks Avenue intersection near McDonald's and the northern Hicks Avenue between Orchard Road and Hicks Avenue intersection and run through October.

Rosan Greene, owner of Northside Diner, organized a meeting Wednesday evening for Northside Drive business owners and employees to gather and discuss the construction plans with Town Manager Stuart Hurd and Water Resources Superintendent Terrance Morse.

About 15 men and women voiced concerns, which stemmed from past projects and road construction in the area that left Northside Drive even more congested than usual.

Betsy Bluto-Woods, owner of Knotty Pine Motel, explained that she was particularly concerned with the time of year during which the construction would take place.

"More than 40 percent of my annual revenue is made during this August to October timespan they're talking about," she said. "People are going to avoid this area once construction starts. Why does it have to be done now?"

Many other business owners shared her sentiments, explaining that the summer and fall foliage seasons are peak times for revenue.

A general consensus revealed that a more agreeable time for the project would be mid-March of next year into mid-May, or "mud season," when tourists are less likely to frequent the area.

Greene was particularly concerned at the prospect of construction happening right outside her door.

"Two years ago, they started a project that was supposed to last three weeks and it ended up lasting three months," she said. "It almost put us out of business. I don't want that to happen again."

Hurd and Morse said that during the time of construction at least one access to all of the businesses would remain open at all times. Residents in the area, however, may be asked to move their vehicles while the construction moves across their driveways, but, they are to be given ample notice.

"This project will ultimately benefit the businesses," Hurd said, referring to the new water main, set to be installed. "There will not be any water interruption for businesses across the street except for one hour in the evening, and they will be notified beforehand."

Hurd said he and Morse will take the businesses' wishes into consideration and provide them with a final start date Friday.

"A delayed start date may end up costing us more money after a delay of about six months," Hurd said. "But obviously the businesses are very concerned and we're going to do what we can to accommodate them."

Any business owners who were unable to attend the meeting and who have concerns can call Morse at the Bennington Town Offices at 802-442-1037.

Contact Elizabeth Conkey at econkey@benningtonbanner.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.