Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone has announced the $1.5 million renovation of the Gerard Street municipal parking lot will be done in two phases after some merchants complained about conflicting information on the project.
"They said they wanted it done in two segments and not one," Petrone said. "We said fine."
Seven merchants came to Tuesday's town board meeting to argue that many of them had not been given time to alert customers and vendors about changes to accessing their businesses from the 235-space lot.
They were concerned the renovation, which began Wednesday, would hurt their businesses, said Claudia Dowling, who owns Claudia Dowling Interiors. "We wanted to say, 'This is our livelihood, and we want to be able to have some input or at least some true knowledge of what was going to happen . . . ' " she said.
Petrone directed his staff to meet with the group during the meeting. The merchants were also angry that a Monday meeting with representatives from the Huntington Business Improvement District, the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and town officials resulted in a decision to begin the renovation this week and complete the project in one phase.
Dowling said the renovation had been slated to begin July 1 and be completed in two stages. They were then told the town would let them know the new start date. When crews showed up to survey the lot Tuesday, merchants were told the renovation would start Wednesday and be done in one phase.
Town officials said the first phase of the renovation, which is expected to last through October, will make 160 of the spaces unavailable. After that, those spaces will be opened and the remaining 75 spaces will be renovated. That phase could last into early December.
Dowling said she is disappointed in the process.
"They tell you it's starting Monday, and then it's going to be half the parking lot, and then it's the whole parking lot and it starts Wednesday," Dowling said. "How encouraging is that?"
The town's HART bus system will run free shuttle buses from Mill Dam Park, where there are 150 parking spaces, to selected stops in the downtown for shoppers, merchants and employees.
For information, go to the town's website, www.huntingtonny.gov/.