Since westbound traffic on Brookman Road was closed on May 4, businesses from tire shops to bars and mini-marts have watched their revenues drop.
With repairs to the heavily pot-holed road expected to last between six months and a year, business owners in the area say they are worried about paying their rents and their employees, according to community activist Bruce Flamon.
Flamon and Pastor Samuel Weekes are hosting a community meeting Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Paradise Covenant Ministries in Vitraco Mall for all business owners and residents affected by the roadwork.
“Renovations are necessary because the road keeps flooding and it’s very, very bad,” said Flamon. “But the worst part of this is that construction is going to be ongoing for about a year. A lot of these businesses, if they knew about the work, they didn’t think it was going to be of this magnitude.”
Businesses are on the brink of shuttering their storefronts and Flamon said he wants to discuss solutions before that occurs.
“We’ve come up with a community place for these business owners to meet and try to come up with a solution to the problem,” said Flamon. “We want to do this before they have to close down. They’re on the brink now.”
“So maybe if we can help with some kind of solution,” he continued, these “businesses can stay open.” Flamon suggested a potential break on their WAPA bills or tax breaks, or maybe a traffic light installed at night “so traffic can flow both ways.”
In addition to the approximately six businesses losing customers because of the road construction and detour, residents who live in the area have also been affected, Flamon said.
“There is a big inconvenience to the residents in that area who ride the dollar bus,” he said.
Flamon continued, “Residents have to walk several blocks to get the bus that used to be right on the road. That could be a big problem if you have any mobility issues.”
Weekes said emergency service response in the area has been impacted, adding that in addition to the business owners and residents, Sen. Marvin Blyden is expected to attend Thursday night’s meeting.
The meeting is intended to hear from the voices of those who disenfranchised by the renovation, Weekes said.
“I just got back a few years ago after being gone for 20 years from my home island,” said Weekes. “But nothing has changed. It seems people just put up with things and they don’t have a voice. We want to say ‘Give them something.’”
Weekes acknowledged the roadwork is necessary but businesses are having trouble paying their rent and their utilities.
Flamon said he hoped the meeting will give these business owners a chance to express their concerns and have someone listen to them.
“These business owners are not against this project, but they are getting hurt by it,” he said. “We want to be the voice for the people. We cannot take another business closing because of poor communication and poor planning. There was no communication between the government and Public Works and the community so we’re trying to do it,” Flamon said.
“Come to the meeting and let’s come up with some good solutions,” he said. “We know we need the road fixed, but these people should not have to go out of business because of that.”
For more information, call Flamon at 340-513-4041.