PHOENIXVILLE — Although Phoenixville is currently undergoing a new street-scaping program, officials are optimistic it won’t interfere with Restaurant Week.
With Bridge Street set to be completely closed from Main Street down to Gay Street Tuesday and Wednesday, milling, paving and other improvements are scheduled for the middle of Restaurant Week, which is runs through Thursday.
“People are really adaptable to things,” said Borough Manager Jean Krack. “If I could choose to not do something, I would. But this was the one where we had to make a judgement call.”
Krack said he was optimistic for Restaurant Week because many of the borough’s parking lots and streets will still be open.
“As one of the organizers of the food festival, I think it doesn’t necessarily make it easy,” said Jessica Capistrant, the director of the Phoenixville Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We aren’t going to let it deter what we do.”
Capistrant said the chamber has “a very positive relationship with the borough” and that any construction going on falls under their jurisdiction.
Some affiliated directly with the restaurants affected are less than enthusiastic about the closure.
“I wasn’t aware of it till recently,” said Bill Lewis, manager at the Bistro on Bridge. “Of course, I wasn’t happy, but you’ve got to make the best of it.”
Kelly Getzfread, Phoenixville’s borough project manager, said she and another borough employee walked to all the affected businesses to speak with them.
“We gave a little bit of a breakdown of what was happening each day to the business owners,” she said.
Getzfread said she was confident that the sidewalks would be walkable and she was sure there would be handicap access at all points it was needed.
Despite that, Lewis classified the timing of the work as “awful.”
Another person who works at a restaurant in the affected area of Bridge Street felt similarly.
“Of course (business) will be affected,” said the man, who asked not to be identified. “I’m greatly concerned. We spent a lot of time making a menu for the event. This is one of the first events we’re participating in.”
The road and sidewalk improvements have been scheduled but the “availability of materials” dictated the current schedule, Krack said.
“It’s never a good time and it’s always a bad time. We recognize that,” he said. “We’re dealing with the availability of materials. We’re trying to pick the right time and we’re getting into cost overruns. It’s expensive to change schedules. It’s unfortunate that it happens.”
Because Phoenixville is essentially waiting in line for the materials and some other municipalities or entities can metaphorically cut the line by bidding higher over what the borough can, work is sometimes pushed back.
However, roadwork can’t take place too late in the year because cold weather is prohibitive.
The entire street had to be shut down as opposed to allowing one lane to pass because a 10 foot hole will have to be opened up at one of the intersections to accommodate various hookups.
“You can’t open up half a lane,” Krack said. “It’s too risky.”
All borough parking lots should be accessibly, according to Krack and Getzfread.
“Ultimately speaking, I don’t think there will be a major loss of parking,” Capistrant said. “You may have to circle around the block an extra time, but I don’t think that will affect people coming in to the restaurants.”
Because the work is weather-dependent, Krack said he is keeping his eye on Tropical Storm Karen, which has the potential to bring significant rain to the area.
“We have a positive attitude,” about the work and its effect, Capistrant said. “People who are local to the borough understand we are going through a streetscape program, which is a good thing.”