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Work ahead of schedule
Times photo: Brenda Steurer North Main Street construction in Monticello appears to be going well, according to Monticello City Clerk Joel Dutenhoefer. There is a no parking rule during construction on the street, which means customers have to park on the side streets or use the city parking lot.
By Tere Dunlap


MONTICELLO - Reconstruction on North Main Street in Monticello is a week ahead of schedule, and that's good news for Monticello's downtown businesses.

The street has been under construction for almost three weeks.s

"The rain has not delayed them much at all," said Bart Nies, the engineer from Delta 3 Engineering Inc., Platteville, which is overseeing the project.

The village is not allowing parking on North Main Street at any time during the construction project, but the street is open to customer traffic where contractors are not working. From North Main Street, customers can access the side streets where parking is allowed and the municipal parking lot on the south end.

Ernie Gempeler, owner of Gempeler's Supermarket, 219 N. Main, said his customer numbers are down about 15 to 20 percent, about what he expected. He is hoping to recover some of that business as people get used to the construction and learn how to get around it.

Gempeler's Supermarket has its own signs set up on Monroe Street and Highland Avenue directing customers to its parking lot, and Gempeler said customers can walk or drive across the street to the bank, unless construction is blocking the area.

Gempeler and his employees are being creative in their attempts to help customers. They are using small wagons that will travel across rough terrain, unlike grocery carts, for carry-out service to wherever a customer is parked.

They will also make home deliveries, and even pick up and take home customers who don't even want to attempt the downtown trip. So far, no one has asked for the extra services, Gempeler said.

But a trip to Gempeler's could be worth the construction inconvenience for a $50 gift certificate in the store's weekly drawing. The drawing is to show appreciation for customers who keep coming in.Rick Babler and Dwayne Fenner were the first two weekly winners.

"We want to be as helpful as possible because we hope to be here when the construction is done," Gempeler said.

The Monticello Business Professionals Association is also trying to be helpful. The group created an ad hoc committee to help businesses and their customers during the project.

"Our purpose is to keep communication to the public open," said Kaye Freitag, chairman of the committee. "We have lots of ads in newspapers and posted in websites about what's going on."

The association borrowed signs from Monroe Main Street, used during Monroe's Square reconstruction project, to announce that businesses are open and invite drivers into the downtown.

"Workers have said the people have been wonderful" about not coming too close to work areas, Freitag said.

She was out posting "no parking" signs Thursday to prevent any parking tickets being issued.

"We want to be as courteous and kind as possible so people leave Monticello with a good flavor in their mouths," Freitag said.

Many places downtown do business by appointment. Those that don't are sharing parking lots where possible, and employees are parking in graveled areas behind the stores, Freitag said.

"I think Ernie Gempeler (of Gempeler's Supermarket) is the one affected the most," she said. "That's because he gets about 500 people a day in his store."

The construction "hasn't helped" business, "but it's got to be done," said Mark Janes, owner of Eagle Pass, 212 N. Main St.

Eagle Pass has a back door to a parking lot for its customers.

Janes said his business normally declines at this time in the summer, during the county and state fairs.

The village board held off construction from the downtown area until after Monticello Homecoming weekend, July 9 to 11.

Joel Dutenhoefer, Monticello village clerk, expects the water and sewer work could be completed in about three weeks, weather permitting.

The sewer main installation from Highland Avenue to the north side of the North Main Street bridge is completed. Water main replacement is underway and should be completed in about a week in the same location.

All water, sewer and storm sewer work from the south side of the North Main Street bridge to Lake Avenue (County F) will be completed later.

Following water main installation, new lateral services for both water and sewer will be installed at the same time, between the new mains and residences and businesses.

WE Energies is currently completing installation of new services and may be on the project for about two more weeks.

All sidewalks could be removed within one month. The entire project could be completed by October.

Construction on South Main Street earlier this summer finished two weeks ahead of schedule. Landscaping is underway and should be completed within two weeks.