GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Adrian Bethel, general manager of Cooper’s Cave Ale Co., has had a difficult summer.
The main reason why is another voice in the chorus of short staffing going on regionally and nationally alike, a factor which caused the business to announce the temporary closure of their pub on Wednesday.
But fewer people to wait tables and serve ice cream isn’t the only issue at Cooper’s Cave. Another obstacle that’s lasted through the season runs up and down Dix Avenue, in the form of traffic cones, construction vehicles and broken pavement.
“They’re finally pouring the last bit of sidewalk outside today,” Bethel said on Wednesday. “So hopefully by next week, we’ll get a little more foot traffic going to the ice cream window.”
City workers resumed work in April on work that started on Dix Avenue last fall, coming back to a project started last fall. The avenue, a heavily-trafficked artery connecting Glens Falls and part of Queensbury to Hudson Falls, is getting new sidewalks and paving above ground, as well as sewer, water line, and storm drainage upgrades down below.
The work is about two weeks behind schedule, with Public Works Superintendant Tom Girard estimating things to be finished by Oct. 1 at the latest. In the meantime, it’s local traffic only.
At Cooper’s Cave, that’s meant some regulars are less likely to come and visit the storefront, ice cream window or tavern, simply because the prospect of driving on Dix Avenue becomes more of a challenge than they care to face.
At one point, it also meant a week where the business’ parking lot on Sagamore Street was completely blocked off. Dix Avenue itself was closed off from there to Ridge Street for two whole weeks; right in front of Cooper’s Cave, as well as a nearby barber shop and diner.
And, for Cooper’s Cave’s ice cream stop along the Warren County Bike Path, closed sidewalks have meant a dip at the dip window.
“It’s nobody’s fault, it had to done, but it’s definitely hurt our ice cream sales,” Bethel said.
The work itself is all on Dix Avenue, but it affects a lot more parts of town. The corner of Dix and Cherry Street on Monday was adorned with a line of large trucks waiting to go work.
Drainage, water and sewer work are also happening a couple blocks south, across Maple Street starting east of City Park, and along the length of Walnut Street.
That’s not all, either; at the same time, the city of Glens Falls is in the midst of a paving program, in the process of paving around 22 streets in the city. So far, they’ve paved six streets in the city’s first ward.
“These were jobs that have been lingering for 3+ years,” said Girard. “It’s not to my liking, but it had to get done.”
Maple is one of the streets on the list for paving this week, as is Lawrence Street – which sits between Maple and Dix.
Most of the area’s businesses are on Dix Avenue, but not all. On Lawrence Street, the Glens Falls Shirt Factory is a hub of local artisans and small shops, as well as community food trucks and music events in recent years.
And with streets covered in traffic cones and detour signs, it hasn’t been the easiest summer there, easier.
“It has been difficult to get tractor-trailers through for pickups and delivery,” said building owner Eric Unkauf in an email this week. “(It) has been adding 2,3 and 4 days extra to freight, as they won’t go down a street if it looks like they might get stuck halfway down the road.”
All that road work means intermittent closures. Usually, Maple, Lawrence and Walnut have been closed at different times, but Unkauf recounted at least one period where parts of all three were closed down.
“It was faster to walk at that point than to take a car.”
The paving is set to be done before the school year begins, and so far, that’s on track. In the meantime, Girard understands why the months of tight roads and less space to park have been frustrating; he knows it firsthand.
“I live in the first ward, so I get a reminder every time I try to get out of my street.”
That said, the upgrades are needed. The city applies for grants to help move municipal projects like these along, and those processes happened to sync up.
And as far as timing goes, the staff at Cooper’s Cave say it could be worse.
“If anything, the light for me is that they’re doing this construction in a COVID year,” said Bethel. “I’m grateful that it’s all in one year.”
A full street paving schedule for the city of Glens Falls can be found online.