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As Holidays Approach, Businesses Fret Over North State Construction

Briarcliff Manor business owners say they have already seen a decline with road closure.

Nicholas Puro, co-owner of  on Pleasantville Road, said he has seen a decline in business of more than 50 percent compared to this time last year in the last month.

Across the street, Sue Taub of said 75 percent of her business comes in the months of November and December, but she's worried that might not be the case this year.

These business owners, and others on the Pleasantville and North State roads' corridor, are not blaming another recession for their financial troubles.

According to Puro, it's "worse than anytime in the recession."

After the Village of Briarcliff Manor was forced to close off the 500-foot stretch of North State Road between Route 9A and Pleasantville Road after , traffic from the major intersection was diverted elsewhere.

With pieces of the village's commercial district suddenly less accessible, stores to customers right after the storm.

Though with a road plate and 5 mph speed limit, Village Manager Philip Zegarelli announced last week the state department of transportation had accepted a $900,000 bid to begin emergency construction at the scene, as of late last night.

"We are very cognizant of the impact on the commercial district," acknowleged Mayor William Vescio during last week's board of trustees meeting, but stated, "You cannot postpone this. It needs to be done."

Vescio said the use of FEMA funds requires the project begin quickly, while postponing construction might also cause problems as the colder weather months draw nearer.

To expedite the process, the road will be completely closed during the duration of the construction, with expected 16-hour workdays five days a week, according to Zegarelli.

He said while the village is aware of suggestions from business owners and residents about creating better detours and a more conducive shopping environment, "We haven't gotten to that part yet," he said.

"I really think there's got to be a way to keep at least one lane, maybe two lanes of traffic open," Puro said to the board.

Owner Megan David asked that signage be improved for the holiday season, pointing customers in the direction of the business district.

"I do think it's a given that if the road is closed, it will impact my business," said David, whose corner shop overlooks the intersection.

Gayle Marchica, president of the Great Ossining Chamber of Commerce, reminded the board to consider the impact on North State Road businesses, too.

"Please don't forget about them, they are suffering as well," she said. "If we can put temporary traffic lights in certain places, that would certainly be a home run for everyone."

Others agreed improving detour routes at Chappaqua and Pleasantville Roads (adjacent to the library) may improve traffic flow and ease in accessing the business district.

Fran Eckel of added she hopes the village will designate a place for construction workers to park for the duration of the project, as to not take up parking from business employees and customers over the next few busy months.

Vescio thanked the business owners for their suggestions and agreed improved signage, temporary lights and more user-friendly detours should be put in place.

"That's a good idea," he said, welcoming the Chamber of Commerce to continue providing input during the process.

Deputy Mayor David Venditti, who is the board's liasion to the business district, invited business owners to reach out to him for further discussion as the project moves forward.

"Don't think for one minute that the downtown district is not a top priority for us. It's an emergency engineering situation and an emergency planning situation," he said. "We have very, very limited choices here."

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