By DAVID GREEN
There’s no way around it, says Morenci mayor Keith Pennington: It’s going to be inconvenient.
The city’s parking lot rebuilding project will begin Monday and it will cause some problems for store owners and customers.
That’s how it was a few years ago when Main Street was rebuilt.
“Please be patient with the construction inconveniences,” Pennington said last week. “Just like the reconstruction of Main Street a few years ago, it will be inconvenient but when finished it will be a great improvement to our downtown.”
The mayor expects construction equipment to be moved into the area Thursday, and come Monday, it’s going to get loud as the old asphalt surface is milled down by grinders.
The alley next to Milestones that leads to city hall will be closed during the duration of the construction period. The contract calls for completion of the project by Oct 28, but by tackling Baker and Orchard streets, along with the two parking areas south of Main Street during the same time period, the contractor expects to wrap up construction by Labor Day.
“Some parking will be maintained in the south lots during construction,“ Pennington said. “However, parking areas will be temporary and moved from day to day as construction proceeds.”
Pennington urges those who are able to walk from a distance to park further away—such as the city’s lot north of Borchardt Brothers—and save the prime Main Street spots for those who aren’t able to take a longer walk.
“It is also important to make an extra effort to patronize those businesses on the south side of Main Street so as to minimize the loss in revenue they may experience during construction,” the mayor said.
The bank drive-through is expected to remain open throughout the project.
Pennington said to expect additional noise and dust starting July 25 when a pile of concrete at the former lumberyard on Main Street will be crushed for use as a base for the parking lot. Existing curbing, sidewalk and road base removed during construction will also be crushed for recycling.
That process should last about a week.
The city is now the owner of the former Dunbar Auction property on North Street that will be demolished to create parking space next to Johnson’s Hardware and behind Main Street apartments.
“The City is still reviewing options to see if the parking lot can be completed this year on the North Street property,” Pennington said.
Several business owners on the south side of Main Street have not yet returned easement agreements to city hall, the mayor said. Without the easements, the city will be forced to limit work to city property only.