Parked avenue: Delayed project starting to impact Drew businessesBy BY JYESHA JOHNSON EDITORIAL INTERN,
Multiple businesses in the town of Drew are bearing the brunt of Park Avenue’s prolonged construction as the months go by and the cash flow begins to dry up in a place that already struggles for economic vitality.
Park Avenue is now mostly undrivable, leaving residents the task of finding alternate routes to destinations like Family Dollar, U.S. Postal Services and one of the downtown’s main convenience stores, Lucky’s Express.
“It’s not fair to the taxpayers of the city. This is not what they pay for,” said Drew citizen Peggy Williams.
The project was intended to make the drive through downtown Drew a little less bumpy, but the repaving project hit some potholes of its own, as crews discovered a number of underground obstacles during their initial digs.
The money budgeted for the endeavor left little margin for error; so for now, things have ground to a halt as everyone awaits the arrival of $300,000 in additional funds that will be used to relocate utilities and drainage pipes that were not known to be under the street when construction began.
In the meantime, what little commerce the town has going on Park Avenue is starting to dwindle.
“It affects the business 100 percent” said Abdul Nasser, owner of Lucky’s Express. “It’s blocking the other side of the town. We lost almost half of our business. We were making like $70,000 to $80,000 a month now were only making $35,000 to $45,000.” Lucky’s Express sells a variety of items such as hot food, groceries, snacks, t-shirts and other necessities.
“Everybody around here goes to that store, kids and all,” said Ken Love, a Drew resident.
Due to slowed business from the construction of Park Avenue, Nasser said he is planning on selling Lucky’s Express.
“What are we going to have? We’re going to have to drive four miles up the road” said Love in response to the possibility of Lucky’s Express closing.
Residents also have to take alternate routes to the town’s post office when using U.S. Postal Services.
“We can’t do anything but wait it out just like the citizens do” said Alicia Wright, Postmaster of Drew’s U.S. Postal Services.
Wright does notice the change in day-to-day business.
“It definitely impacts revenue for any establishment when you have to find a way to get around or get to the establishment,” said Wright.
The town’s lone dollar store, Family Dollar, also sits in the heart of the construciton zone, though store management declined to speak to The E-T on the record for this story.
Sunflower County Engineer Ron Cassada said that prior to leaving his final legislative session as District 13 Senator, Willie Simmons was able to get an additional $300,000 allocated for the project.
The money is in the process of being added to the project from a different fund than the original, Cassada said.
“Hopefully it will be completed by the end of the summer, but it’s going to depend on that” Cassada said. “It’s going to depend on how many utilities (and drainage pipes) need to be relocated under there before we can come in and mix the subbase up.”