Quick work earns thanks

Route: Crews were able to finish streetscape along portion of Frederick Road in time for Catonsville Independence Day Parade.

July 01, 1999|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

The bricks are laid, the concrete is dry and the road is patched.

Now, with Catonsville's $2.3 million streetscape ahead of schedule, one of the community's biggest traditions -- the Catonsville Independence Day Parade -- can continue as planned on Saturday.

Relieved community members held a picnic yesterday to thank Machado Construction Company Inc., dishing up hot dogs, hamburgers and brownies at Catonsville Elementary School for about 20 construction workers who helped clear the route for the 53rd annual parade on Frederick Road.

"These guys have just done a fantastic job," said Maureen Sweeney Smith, Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce executive director. "It's such a tradition, and people plan their whole holiday around the parade. We didn't want to disrupt that."

The Catonsville streetscape project, begun in August, includes new sidewalks, benches and light fixtures on four blocks of Frederick Road, from Bishops Lane west to Sanford Avenue.

With work expected to continue through September, members of the Catonsville Celebrations Committee were worried about unsafe conditions along the route of the parade, which draws 40,000 to 50,000 people.

Although the group discussed alternate routes, the committee wanted to hold it on Frederick Road, said Sweeney Smith.

"We have 52 years of tradition, and we wanted to keep that going," she said.

So, last month, Machado Construction employees began working overtime and on weekends to finish the sidewalks and patch holes in the road. They finished the entire route two weeks ago -- about a month ahead of schedule for that portion of the project.

"These guys work hard, there's no other way to put it," said Pat Leone Sr., Machado project manager.

Said Scott Graham, Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce president: "The workers worked so quickly that the inconvenience was minor."

The project is one of several streetscape renovations throughout Baltimore County. Business districts in Pikesville, Essex and along Liberty Road in Randallstown are being renovated.

Ray Heil, streetscape project manager for the Baltimore County Department of Public Works, said the projects make the communities "more attractive places to live and more attractive places to do business."

And while the Catonsville construction causes traffic congestion and eliminates some parking on Frederick Road, the Chamber of Commerce has received no major complaints about loss of business, Graham said.

"I think that all merchants will enjoy the result of the streetscape project and will benefit financially from the result," he said. "They look at it as a long-term investment."

Fran Medicus, owner of Hilton Flower Shop on Frederick Road, said the construction hasn't hurt her business. She said the project will improve the area, something that's been needed for a while.

"I felt we were standing still and not going forward," she said. "It really was time that we needed something done."

Abul Kashim, owner of Indian Delite on Frederick Road, said his business was only affected for one day while the construction workers poured the concrete for the sidewalk in front of his restaurant. He had to have customers enter through the side door.

Kashim said that once the project is done, he hopes to have more business because the renovation will encourage foot traffic.

"Overall, it's fantastic," he said. "I'd like to see more people walking in Catonsville, like they do in New York."

The Catonsville Independence Day Parade will take place Saturday at 3 p.m. The parade starts at Montrose Avenue and heads east on Frederick Road to Bloomsbury Avenue then south to Bloomingdale Avenue. Information: Catonsville Celebrations Committee, 410-744-7042.

Pub Date: 7/01/99

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