ORLEANS — Remember September? Cool breezes. Fewer traffic jams. A time when year-rounders are free to roam about the Cape.
“My customers in Osterville, Cotuit, Sandwich, they'll take the ride in September,” said Sue Blake, owner of Main Street's Blake & Co. But will they if Main Street is under construction from Labor Day through Columbus Day?
Those and similar concerns prompted Blake to circulate a petition asking that paving projects in and around Main Street and Route 6A not start up again right after Labor Day but instead be postponed until Oct. 9.
“September is considered a part of our summer season,” Blake wrote in the petition, “with revenues equaling or surpassing July or August. We lost sales during the construction that took place in March, April and May...Creating these closures will again deter customers from venturing into the town center, thus creating a further loss to our incomes this year.”
Blake, who said, “I tend to take action rather than fret,” responded to the concerns she heard on Main Street by crafting the petition, which she said has about 40 signatories, including her landlord, former selectman Scott Barron.
Another supporter is Arthur Teubner, an acupuncturist at the Healing Arts Collective. “It's a nightmare people getting here” during construction, he said. “A large percentage of our clientele is elderly. If they can't park close, they can't get in. We've had to change a lot of things.” He noted that “some places do this street work at night after office hours.”
“I would have signed it if I'd been here” when Blake stopped in with the petition, said Tim Sweeney of the Sparrow Store. He circulated a petition of his own last year to prod the state department of transportation to do a better job of cleaning up after it suspended work for the summer on its intersection project, and got results. He said he'd “love it” if the work could be delayed until October, but wondered whether that was possible.
As it turns out, it is.
There are two Main Street projects scheduled for September: final trench patching by Revoli Construction for the sewer system installed earlier this year, and state department of transportation curbing and sidewalk work at the Route 28 and Route 6A intersections.
“We have asked the sewer contractor to wait until October to do the work,” DPW/Natural Resources Director Tom Daley said. “We have asked them if they can. They may not, but it may work out better for them.” That project is not expected to take much time.
As for the state, Daley said the town “is looking for a little more detail” from DOT, to which he forwarded the petition. His understanding is that work in September will be concentrated at the Route 28 end of Main. “If they decide to do that, and the (6A intersection) in October, everything will be happy,” he said.
Daley has been “very open and communicative” during the various road projects, said Orleans Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Noelle Pina. “He's very forthcoming with information.” She confirmed that the petition will be on the agenda for the board's Aug. 17 meeting.
“The businesses have been fantastic to work with,” Daley said, “very understanding. We want to do our best to treat 'em well.”
“No one is angry,” Blake said. “We're just requesting respectfully that September be considered summer and we not have any work deter customers.”