Luncheon rewards road crew

Luncheon rewards road crew

MARK I. JOHNSON – STAFF WRITER
September 18, 2010; Page 01C

NEW SMYRNA BEACH — NEW SMYRNA BEACH – There were hot dogs on the grill, cold drinks in the cooler, chips in a bowl, cupcakes heaped with frosting. And “thank-you’s” were served up as well Friday morning outside the Historic District Bike Shop (Canal Street Tire & Tube) on West Canal Street.

For more than a year, residents, businesses and motorists have put up with construction barrels, traffic congestion, drainage problems and the torn-up asphalt and concrete known as the West Canal Street streetscape project.

Friday was a chance for some of those affected to express their gratitude to the workers from Thad Construction of Daytona Beach for their effort to minimize the road work’s impact on the neighborhood.

“They are a pretty good crew of guys,” said bike-shop owner Hugh Waters, who co-hosted the party. “They were pleasant and fun.”

The streetscape was the brainchild of New Smyrna Beach officials to rehabilitate the entrance into the historic downtown business district, according to Khalid Resheidat, assistant city manager and, then, public-works director.

However, when city officials learned the Florida Department of Transportation wanted to upgrade stormwater-drainage systems under the sidewalks bordering the two-lane roadway, they approached the state agency to explore a joint project and an agreement was reached.

Construction on the projected $2.3 million effort between U.S. 1 west to Myrtle Avenue began in September 2009 and was expected to be completed in 365 days, which has been extended by three months. That can’t come soon enough for Ruth Ann Rose, owner of Ruthy’s Kozy Kitchen restaurant on West Canal Street.

She said in the first five months of construction she saw a $30,000 drop in her business and lost 20 percent of her regular customers.

“They have just about put me out of business,” she said by telephone Friday afternoon.

Unlike some of her neighbors, Rose said construction conflicts such as the contractor working during Bike Week (her busiest time of the year) and installation of a handicapped ramp at her front door have created problems.

“I also expected them to keep (the street) clean and make it look like the businesses were open, not closed,” she said. “I never expected (the construction) to go on for more than a year.”

Waters said he had unanticipated difficulties as well, such as drainage problems causing several floods into his shop at the corner of West Canal Street and Myrtle Avenue. But, when he contacted the construction firm about the issues, he got prompt responses, as did his landlord Lois Tipton, who co-hosted Friday’s luncheon.

“It was a real pleasure working with them,” she said.

Trey Sizemore, co-owner of Thad Construction said, while hearing complaints during such projects is the norm, when affected people go out of their way to thank his crews for their efforts it is “very much appreciated.”

“This is a wonderful thing,” he said while fixing himself a plate of food. “Such pats on the back are few and far between.”

Cutline: Photo 1: Trey Sizemore, one of the owners of Thad Construction, the contractor on the West Canal Streetscape project in New Smyrna Beach, digs into the food presented at a thank-you luncheon put on by some of the residents and business owners along the street Friday.

Photo 2: Co-owner of Thad Construction Trey Sizemore, the contractor on the New Smyrna Beach West Canal Streetscape project, talks with property owner Lois Tipton during a thank-you luncheon Tipton and other residents and business owners threw for the construction crew Friday.

Photo 3: Construction on the West Canal Streetscape project in New Smyrna Beach likely will continue through the end of October, city officials said Friday. That puts the project about three months past due. (found in Southeast Volusia edition)

News-Journal/ MARK I. JOHNSON