NEW YORK (1010 WINS / WCBS 880 / CBS 2) — Business owners and residents rallied Sunday against the MTA’s Second Avenue Subway construction, saying the project has negatively affected them.
The protesters, facing a drop in revenues and reduced foot traffic due to potential patrons avoiding the construction, said it wasn’t enough for the MTA to promise what they called superficial improvements.
However, they said they planned to hold the agency accountable for its latest promises.
LISTEN: WCBS 880′s Monica Miller reports
The 2nd Avenue Business Association wants legislation passed allowing businesses to receive financial assistance if they’ve lost income due to construction delays. The work stretches for 30 blocks — from 90th to 68th Street, CBS 2′s Derrick Dennis reported.
Peter Yoo, owner of Buddha BBeeQ, said the construction has hurt his restaurant.
“We’re not able to hire additional delivery people and we don’t have any foot traffic,” Yoo told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon.
Civil Rights Attorney Norman Siegel said enough is enough.
“This delay is a nightmare, a nightmare for the businesses and the residents,” Siegel said.
The group also wants to see a real estate tax abatement law passed for the businesses, a sales tax free area along 2nd Avenue, and for the MTA to improve sanitary conditions and increase accessibility for businesses.
The president of the MTA’s Capital Construction Company Michael Horodniceanu said the authority wants to be a good neighbor to Upper East Side residents and business owners, who have endured cracked sidewalks and ugly chain-linked fences since construction began in 2007.
“Our mandate to the contractor is to maintain a seven foot sidewalk at the minimum. We will do that. In areas that there is not enough light, we’ll add additional lighting,” Horodniceanu told WCBS 880′s Monica Miller.
East Side resident Marion Morey was among those in a rally of passionate proprietors willing to deal with the mess to get a new subway line.
“It’s absolutely imperative that we get a subway,” Morey said.
Neighborhood resident Fred Canizzaro said he wants the MTA to live up to their promises.
“They said they will fix these sidewalks. They will scrub the areas of garbage where the construction sites are. They will widen the areas for the walkways in front of the businesses.”
The project was supposed to be done by 2013, it’s now taking until at least 2017. Many of the owners’ leases will be up before then and said they were afraid they’ll be unable to renew them in time — ultimately driving them out of business.
Ernie Raftopoulos, who owns 3 Decker restaurant said the MTA has treated business owners with a lack of respect.
“It’s beyond me, really, to describe the MTA’s [disregard] for the human lives and for the businesses,” Raftopoulos said, “it’s a disgrace.