Businesses concerned about construction along Main St. in Indian Orchard

The ongoing construction has taken away parking spaces in front of one restaurant and made it difficult for most of their older customer base to dine there.
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 3:53 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - What started off as a construction project to help businesses and restaurants in Indian Orchard now has one restaurant owner concerned that she may have to close down.

The ongoing construction, Hanna Kucharczyk said, has taken away parking spaces in front of her restaurant and made it difficult for most of her older customer base to dine there.

“Right now, you see yourself. It’s an empty place and I tell you yesterday was very slow,” said Kucharczyk, who owns Hanna’s Diner and Deli Shoppe.

Mother’s Day, which is usually one of the best business days of the year at Hanna’s Diner and Deli Shoppe, was oddly quiet this year, Kucharczyk told Western Mass News.

“If I will be that kind of slow, then I will close because there is no money. No money, no pay employees, no pay bills,” Kucharczyk explained.

Kucharczyk’s restaurant, located on the intersection of Main Street in Indian Orchard and Pinevale Street in Springfield, is being impacted by a traffic project aimed at improving pedestrian safety in the neighborhood, which includes reducing Main Street from four lanes down to two lanes, adding crosswalks, and additional parking spaces.

However, in the meantime, it has resulted in fewer parking spaces available outside the restaurant for her older customer base.

“I myself am handicapped, so I myself know what it’s like to try and cross that street. [Reporter: how is it?] Terrible,” said Linda Yarber of Springfield.

We brought concerns to State Representative Orlando Ramos, who sat on the city council when the finances of the project, awarded by MassDOT, were approved last July.

“It will be done shortly…We’re asking people to be patient, but there will be a crosswalk put there…We’re going to make sure that there’s plenty of handicap parking, plenty of accessible parking,” Ramos said.

Ramos told Western Mass News this is a Springfield Department of Public Works project and he said he confirmed with the city that in-person meetings were held with business owners beforehand. He also said they’re partnering with UMass Amherst to help improve safety while attracting more businesses to Indian Orchard.

“It has a lot of potential to be a dining district, which is one of the ideas that I love, and we want to make sure that we’re giving restaurants an opportunity to succeed,” Ramos added.

City DPW officials have not yet responded to our request for comment. We checked in with Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno’s office. They told us advanced notice was sent out to businesses by MassDOT, the city, and the Ward 8 neighborhood council.