Saratoga County

Luther Forest work not without costs

John Bove is enthusiastic about everything an Advanced Micro Devices computer chip factory could


John Bove is enthusiastic about everything an Advanced Micro Devices computer chip factory could mean to upstate New York.

But the owner of the My Way Cafe just doesn’t know if his business will last long enough to see it.

The Frank Sinatra-themed Italian fine dining restaurant is directly across from the eastern end of the Round Lake bypass construction site, and Bove said that’s been rough for business.

“It’s been horrible, for a lot of reasons,” Bove said Monday afternoon, after spending hours cleaning dust and dirt that drift over from the construction and accumulate on the restaurant. “I’ve got to tell you I’m for this whole thing, but I’m going to have a hard time surviving.”

There are towering mounds of topsoil across Route 9 from the establishment, and a regular stream of heavy trucks lumbering in and out of the site on most days.

Bove said his dinner business is off 25 percent or more, and he spends every Monday — the day the restaurant is closed — cleaning away dirt that blows onto his awnings and siding from the construction zone.

Plans for the $22.4 million project include building a new 1.6-mile bypass road around the village of Round Lake, between Northway Exit 11 and the intersection in front of the My Way. Work began last December, and isn’t expected to conclude until 2009.

The bypass is part of the preparations for the additional traffic expected at the Luther Forest Technology Campus in Malta and Stillwater, where the AMD plant is proposed.

“This AMD is going to change everything in upstate New York, not just Malta,” Bove said. “We need to have those kinds of jobs so young people don’t move away.”

Bypass construction — which included nearly daily dynamite blasting this winter — has also rattled Round Lake residents, who’ve felt the blasting and recently seen removal of vegetation from the hillside at the village entrance.

“It’s a little depressing,” said Village Clerk Lois Whitbeck.

“There’s been some concern from the residents, but at least we have a light at the end of the tunnel, which is getting traffic out of the village,” said Deputy Mayor Brent Elford. “I can empathize with John’s situation.”

Bove, 72, has been a chef in the Capital Region for 50 years, the last 25 as owner and head chef at the My Way Cafe — a theme restaurant before there were many, filled with photographs, memorabilia and background music of crooner Frank Sinatra.

Bove said he’s had a steady business for decades, much of it drawn from the Saratoga Springs area, but it began to decline in 2005 during the roundabout construction project farther north on Route 67, and has remained off.

A staff of five people is now down to just himself and two part-time employees, serving dinners six nights a week.

“If people see construction, they get nervous about it,” he said.

The bypass project will include a new roundabout to be built at Routes 9, 67, and the bypass entrance. That will take away My Way’s two main entrances.

In a dozen meetings with state Department of Transportation officials over the last three years, Bove said he’s been told a new entrance for the business will be built, and a secondary parking lot on Route 9 will be expanded, but to date none of that has happened.

“The driveway is full of dirt, just constant dirt, or it’s mud,” he said.

His monthly Sinatra Night April 6 — usually his biggest night every month — left an inch of mud in his entranceway.

State DOT spokesman Peter Van Keuren agreed none of the improvements that have been promised to Bove have been done yet.

He said the project schedule calls for no work on the new roundabout during the busiest tourism months — July 1 to Sept. 1. That will be true this year, and also in 2009, if the project isn’t yet finished.

Those are also months when the restaurant is busy because of visitors to Saratoga Race Course.

Van Keuren said DOT tries to be aware of the impact its construction projects have on people and businesses, but it can’t pay them for their lost business.

“There’s not much we can do to compensate any individual business owner for perceived loss of business,” Van Keuren said.

Bove said he hasn’t asked for monetary compensation, just the property improvements he’s been promised.

Van Keuren said the roundabout in front of My Way Cafe will either be built this fall or early next spring, and the work on the My Way property will probably be done at the same time.

When the roundabout is being installed, Route 9 will be reduced to one lane in each direction, and Route 67 will be closed, with traffic diverted to a rebuilt Easy Street.

“He’ll still have entrances from Route 9,” Van Keuren said.

The project schedule calls for the intersection to be shut down for 17 days. Bove said it’s been suggested he take a vacation then, but he won’t do it while they’re working so close to his property.

“I do realize the property will be worth a lot more money when they’re done, but I’ve got to hold on,” Bove said. “It’s probably 2010 before I can get my business back.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply