MARBLEHEAD — Former football referee Carl Siegel admits he’s been yelled at by both sides before. Nevertheless, as chairman of the Water and Sewer Commission, he seems frustrated to find some residents complaining loudly that they want Atlantic Avenue properly surfaced — fast — even as shop owners on the street are adamant about delaying the project until fall.
“The paving has to be done,” Siegel said, adding that it’s best done in the warmer months when the layers of material are better able to adhere to each other.
The paving is part of a project approved by Town Meeting to solve drainage problems in the area. Extensive construction on Atlantic Avenue was done last year, phase one of a three-year plan.
For the owners of Atlantic Avenue businesses, however, enough is enough. They say last year’s work, with traffic reduced and sometimes diverted, made it difficult for customers to come in, driving some shops into insolvency. They fear this is more of the same and that it threatens them, according to Dawn Livigne of Eos Designs.
“Last year, it hit the stores so hard,” she says.
“There are businesses right now that are on the ropes,” adds George Shube of Shubie’s Marketplace. “We waited all year for summer. ... We took a bath last summer.”
For the record, no date has been set for doing the work, water and sewer superintendent Amy McHugh said, although “after July” has been mentioned. She does not rule out a September start. And she promised to give notice.
“As soon as I know I will tell them,” she said. “It will be posted on our website.”
At the same time, she noted that the impact on downtown businesses is not the only factor in the decision. She must also consider the requirements of the contractor, the vagaries of the weather and the need to keep costs at a minimum.