The construction taking place in Geneseo—primarily on Main Street—has been accompanied by many questions and frustrations from students, faculty and members of the community. Senior civil engineer at MRB Group Bill Davis said in a phone interview that the project that started in June was originally scheduled to be completed before the end of August, but there were complications.
“It was anticipated to be done over the summer,” he said. “There was an attempt made to get the contractor to stick to a schedule to be done before a lot of the college students came back and there was a lot of traffic on Main Street, but the contractor took longer than anticipated.”
Davis noted that a large part of the delay came from additional work “added into the contractor’s scope, including Bank Street and sections of Main Street that were in very poor condition.”
Senior Julen Bascaran said he was frustrated that the contractor was unable to follow the original schedule.
“Some of the problems must be their fault,” he said. “I think it’s absolutely crazy that they haven’t finished yet. They can blame it on running into difficulties, but to an extent, it’s their fault.”
Bascaran lived in Geneseo this summer while interning and recalled thinking that the project would almost definitely be finished before the semester started—as to not further hinder incoming students, faculty and community members.
“I remember them starting construction around mid-June and it was fine because they’re going to do what they need to do—I think it was sewer and water initially—and it’ll be done before school starts,” he said. “But when we got back, they were still there and still doing stuff. We were like, ‘Alright, maybe it’ll only be for a couple of weeks,’ but they’re still there and they’ve been doing it literally since mid-June.”
Davis explained that the village board’s original plan for construction was simply to improve the water infrastructure and pavement on the north end of Main Street that had been damaged by years of harsh winters and general wear and tear.
“The board had been talking about it for a number of years,” he said. He cited both the large number of water main breaks on the north end of Main Street as well as intensive pavement damage that occurred last winter as the main catalysts to finally implement construction. As construction began, however, there were additional issues discovered that needed to be remedied.
“The plan was only Main Street and only in most areas to do the utilities … instead of replacing complete sections of the street,” Davis said. “In some areas there was contaminated soil to contend with as well, which we didn’t know when the project was first planned.”
Despite the obvious benefits of making these repairs, Davis acknowledged that many individuals have expressed annoyance and exasperation with the ongoing construction.
“With Main Street and a lot of the merchants, there’s been a lot of discomfort,” he said. “I’m sure it was the village board’s intentions to make improvements and make conditions better, but it obviously takes time and effort to get through the process, no matter who the contractor is.” He did note, however, that the new deadline for the end of September fell through and has been pushed back to the end of October.
Junior Madelyn Mascaro—a resident of 10 North Street—noted that it has been “really difficult getting to class, especially having to cross Main Street” and that her living arrangements have been made uncomfortable because of the project. The St. Mary’s Church parking lot next door to her house has been used as a dumping ground for gravel and heavy supplies, as well as parking for construction vehicles.
“It’s terrible,” she said. “They start at seven in the morning and it wakes me up all the time.” Mascaro added that the house’s water has also been shut off by the construction workers, both after alerting her and unexpectedly.
Bascaran shared Mascaro’s sentiment that the construction project has been fairly unaccommodating. “It seems like every day they cut off a different sidewalk or a different street—and not even at convenient times,” he said.
Davis explained that the encompassing nature of the project is “due to cost and the complexity of trying to do it in sections.”
“It’s difficult to replace, for example, sections of a water and sewer main and pavement without doing the whole street,” he added.
Bascaran acknowledged the necessity of the repairs, but stressed his frustration with the way the project has been handled.
“You would think there was a better way of going about doing it,” he said.