By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
A detour road between Erie Street and Gilliland Avenue on Amsterdam's South Side will no longer be accessible to the public for everyday use.
An agreement between the city and property owners Dave's Landscaping and Santos Construction was not renewed in June. Since the road is private property, use of it is restricted to customers of those businesses.
"I feel bad about it," David Falso, owner of Dave's Landscaping, said. "I wanted it to continue as a roadway for people, especially for the boaters and the bocci players. Hopefully the other party will change their mind."
Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis said the agreement was originally started because of the hazards posed by the former Chalmers Building before it was demolished, and was never meant to be a long-term agreement.
"It was only a detour road for drivers," he said. "The agreement could have ended sooner."
DeCusatis said he did talk to the property owners about continuing the public access road but no agreement was reached.
"The city was willing to continue it but we couldn't reach an agreement with one of the property owners," he said.
Santos Construction owner Sylvester Wayne Santos said there was no reason the road needed to be open.
"There is was no reason for the city to go through this expense of maintaining the road," Santos said.
The road has been used as a detour for more than 10 years. According to the last contract signed in 2009, the city turned a 22-foot wide piece of the property into the detour road, installing stop signs, striping it, repairing sidewalks, cleaning storm drains, etc. The agreement called for the city to assume responsibility of maintenance and to provide liability insurance.
Falso said while he understands Santos' position, people have been used to driving down the road for a decade, and don't understand that the road is closed. Even though there are "road closed" signs on each end of the street, Falso said he is constantly redirecting people, and providing people with directions on how to get to the boat launch or the bocci courts on Gilliland Avenue.
"I want to know how the city is going to enforce this. They left us in the wind," he said. "People don't understand this is private property and if something should happen, we are liable."
Falso said his insurance company has already threatened to drop him because of the liability risk.
"If someone has a head-on collision on this road, it is going to fall on me," he said.