Jeannette business owners discuss Lowry Avenue closures
Despite the closures on Lowry Avenue, a group of Jeannette business owners met at Enrico's Bakery last week to discuss the effect the road construction to upgrade the sewage system is having on area businesses.
The work is part of the ongoing $9.6 million Jeannette Municipal Authority sewer expansion project and has repeatedly closed the thoroughfare during the past two months. The Lowry Avenue work is separating a combined storm water and sewage pipe into two lines, aimed at eliminating backups during large storms. The work was ordered by the Department of Environmental Protection and was targeted for completion by the end of the year.
Rob Enrico of Enrico's Bakery and his sister, Amy, who is the owner of Tazza D'Oro, a Highland Park Coffee Shop, set up the meeting and contacted the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Business owners attending the meeting included Gina Villi of Salem 22 Linens and Supreme Linens, Patricia Reno of Decade Hair Designs, Ricky Stough of Ricky's Classic Pizza, Ernie DiMartino of DiMartino Ice, Bill Hoffman from the Hoffman Agency, Mauro DeFelice from Mauro's Ristorante and Lounge, and representatives from several other business including Wink Salon and the BP Gas Station. Some of the Enrico's neighbors who live on the Lowry Avenue were also in attendance.
The majority of the meeting focused on solutions to the issues on Lowry Avenue and discussion with Carl Knoblock, district director for the Small Business Administration's Pittsburgh office, about how to recoup losses. Even though Lowry Avenue is the only road closed, many businesses such as Mauro's Restaurant and Wink Salon, which are located on side streets off of Lowry, are feeling the crunch of having a major thoroughfare into the city closed.
Owners pointed out that signs on Route 30 advising that Lowry Avenue is closed are a real problem for them.
Rob Enrico said, “This is what's killing us.”
“I've lost a lot of customers from North Huntingdon and Irwin,” said DeFelice.
Business losses were estimated by owners as anywhere from 20 percent to 70 percent. Knoblock asked business owners to submit a spreadsheet to him documenting their losses. Knoblock and business owners also discussed alternatives to shutting down Lowry Avenue completely such as making it one way during construction so that at least one lane is open to make businesses accessible.
Discussion also centered on issues such as the amount of dust being raised by the construction — one business owner reported hiring a professional cleaning company to get rid of the dirt.
“If you have pictures, choose the pictures that strategically highlight what is happening. Stay very targeted on what is done to the businesses,” said Knoblock.
There were also complaints of frequent waterline breaks. Knoblock advised the group to be prepared to “outline the problem, the impact and then say, ‘Here is the solution.'”
Amy Enrico volunteered to help business owners with their spreadsheets to be sent to Knoblock. Ernie DiMartino also volunteered his services and said the Jeannette Business Association could serve as a clearinghouse for emails and announcements.
Future meetings are being scheduled to be held at Enrico's Bakery. Business owners that are experiencing issues can contact Amy Enrico at firstname.lastname@example.org or inbox the Jeannette Business Association on Facebook to get further information and to stay updated on meeting dates and other issues.
Margie Stanislaw is a contributing writer.