FONDA - Antoinette Capparello is enjoying what will be her last few months in the restaurant and catering business she owns on Route 5.
Capparello will lose her cafe after 18 years, not because of price increases, foreclosure or any other of the multitude of financial troubles affecting businesses. She will close it because of a bridge.
When the New York State Department of Transportation begins construction of the new Route 30A bridge, at least two village businesses will lose their locations and three others also may be affected.
The Leader-Herald/Kerry McAvoy
Antoinette Capparello, left, talks with customers Richard Blowers and Robert Green this morning at her cafe, Antoinette’s, on Route 5 in Fonda. The cafe will close when the state Department of Transportation begins building the new Route 30A bridge early next year.
Antoinette's Cafe and Mike's Pizzeria will be closed to make room for the new bridge. The Fairway Mobile gas station will lose about half its land to the construction. The Dairy Isle ice cream stand and Cathy's Cafe also may be affected by the construction.
DOT spokeswoman Alice Romynch said the plans are not yet finalized, but the department is going to put the expanded bridge east of where it stands now.
She said the plans should be finalized within the next few months. Construction is slated to be completed in 2009.
As soon as the plans are finalized, a public hearing will be conducted to discuss the new bridge and its impact on the community, Romynch said.
The $3.5 million project will erect a new bridge replacing the almost 60-year-old structure that rises above the CSX railroad tracks.
It will be raised from about 21 feet to 23 feet high, and the state will add a left-turn-only lane from Route 5 west to Route 30A south, a right-turn-only lane from Route 5 east to Route 30A south and a left-turn-only lane from Route 30A to Route 5 west.
The bridge will remain open during construction to ensure traffic is not delayed. Approximately 11,000 vehicles travel over the bridge in a given day, and about 13 percent are tractor-trailers.
In 30 years, the DOT projects, the number will increase to 17,000.
Capparello said she wasn't surprised when the DOT called her two weeks ago to let her know her business would be closing. She said during a meeting on the project in April she knew her business and her father's business next door would be the ones lost to the construction.
During the meeting, the DOT unveiled plans to build the bridge west of the present location. Many people spoke out against that move and asked to move the bridge toward the east.
Capparello's father, Mike Geloso, also will lose his business, Mike's Pizzeria, which has been in business for more than 30 years. Where his building stands on Route 5 will be the start of the third lane of the new bridge.
The DOT will take the property through the eminent domain law and will pay the owners of homes and businesses that must be torn down in order to make way for the bridge. The amount to be paid hasn't been determined yet.
Business owners will have help relocating their businesses if they wish, DOT officials said. Rental owners, such as Cathy's Cafe, who decide not to relocate will be given a reimbursement package of up to $20,000.
Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce President Deborah Auspelmyer said she has not yet heard if the chamber's office next to the bridge will be directly affected.
"Either way, we will be impacted by the construction through detours and such," Auspelmyer said.
The chamber will host a breakfast with DOT officials Aug. 21 at the Winner's Circle restaurant on Route 5 to discuss upcoming construction projects in the county.
Auspelmyer said the chamber does have a small business-expansion loan available to businesses that will be affected to help them relocate.
The Montgomery County Economic Development and Planning Office also is available to help with loans and to help find new locations for businesses that will be displaced.
Capparello said she has several options of what to do now that the business will be gone. She said she is not sure if she can find a new location within the village. She said this is because of the lack of space, the cost of starting in a new location and ensuring the building is up to code and handicapped accessible.
The economic impact on the village is not yet known, but Mayor Kim Flander said in April the loss of businesses such as The Dairy Isle and Cathy's Cafe could be upwards of $7,800 a year in tax revenue.
"The worst thing about it is the effect on the revenue the loss of these four businesses will bring," Capparello said. "I just hope the revenue comes back to the village."
She is also considering going to college to get a bachelor's degree or even possibly starting a small home-based business.
"I'm optimistic. [The DOT] tries to give you a positive attitude and a couple of different options," Capparello said.
Capparello said she is not angry that the DOT is taking her land to build a new bridge. She said she understands the bridge must be redone for safety reasons.
"The bridge really needs to be done. It's just tremendous. Trying to get through there is just terrible," Capparello said.
Even though she understands the need for the state to take her land, she will not be able to watch the wrecking crews come in.
"I've been here for 18 years, so I'm not going to be able to stand here and watch them tear it down," Capparello said.
Kerry McAvoy covers Montgomery County. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.