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Sewer reconstruction work in Utica is costing business owners some customers

By GARY LIBERATORE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The City of Utica is in the process of improving its sewer system.

City Civil Engineer Deborah Day says the city is separating the sewer system, so that the storm sewer does not mix with the sanitary sewer when there is heavy rain, which causes sewage to flow into the waterways.

The city had to submit a plan to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as to how the city would eliminate the mixing of storm and sanitary waters.

The first project of a six project series began in February along Erie Street and isn't expected to be complete until this fall.

However, the work taking place along Erie Street has some business owners worried they may soon have to go out of business because of this eight-month construction project.

Joey Loiacano opened Joey's Auto Detail Shop on Erie Street 12 years ago. He says he has had a huge drop in customers since the sewer work began in February.

"And every day, I lose more, and more, and more business," he says..

Loiacano says that once he or his employees detail a car, they move it into the lot to work on another car, and the clean car is quickly covered in dust from the construction.

"By the time this is done, I might not be in business anymore" Loiacano said.

Two blocks away sits Buster's Auction House, housed in the building that used to house West End Seafood.

Mark Thompson owns Buster's Auction House,

"I bought it three years ago," said Mark Thompson, owner of Buster's Auction House. "I've been working hard to get it going and get it going, and they destroyed it. They destroyed it in three months and it took me almost three years to build it up."

Thompson says that because of the dirt and dust, and because of all of the road closed signs, customers have decided to take their business elsewhere.

"It's totally destroyed it," Thompson says. "It's like I may as well be in the middle of the woods somewhere."

Both Loiacano and Thompson say they have talked with Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri about their issues, asking to have their taxes reduced. The Mayor said that was something he couldn't do.

The City did make signs up for each of the two businesses and put them along some of the areas where there are 'Road Closed' signs up, but the business owners say it hasn't helped.

The Erie Street sewer replacement portion of the project is expected to be complete in late August, but then Erie Street and all the streets that come off it up to Whitesboro Street will all have to be repaved.

That repaving work is expected to be complete by late October.

Mayor Palmieri said this section of West Utica should be a much better area to be in, once all the work is done.

"So what," Thompson said. "I mean, I'm sure that's going to be great, but what am I doing right now? I'm not going to make it. I'm not going to make it."

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