Local News

Raleigh pharmacy owner says city repairs hurt small business

Posted September 26, 2012 4:52 p.m. EDT
Updated September 26, 2012 9:43 p.m. EDT

— When the City of Raleigh tore up the sidewalk in front of a downtown pharmacy, the owner decided to fire back with a message that's getting attention from passersby.

John Johnson, who owns Hamlin Drug Company on Hargett Street, posted a sign on the sidewalk that reads: "This mess the city left is normally left in front of a small business. Why?"

The sign caught the attention of Terron Epps, who works downtown.

"I stopped, looked and took a picture of it," Epps said.

That's what Johnson hoped would happen.

"I will take this time to not only vent my frustration, but share it with some of the other people (downtown)," Johnson said.

He said city-hired contractors tore up the sidewalk in front of his business last week to upgrade a cable line. The sidewalk had not been fixed as of Wednesday.

Jed Niffenegger, a senior transportation engineer for the city, said that, by contract, workers are supposed to make sidewalk repairs within five days. In Johnson's case, the repairs are one day late.

"This work needs to be done," Niffenegger said. "We certainly don't want to leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth."

But Johnson accused the city of making repairs that affect small businesses a lower priority.

"I don't think they'd leave this barricade up at Meymandi Hall or Progress Energy, at the front entrance there," he said. 

Niffenegger said the city is upgrading fiber optic cable lines throughout downtown for crosswalk displays and that contractors have no choice but to work on those lines in the public rights of way.

He said the sidewalk in front of Hamlin Drugs will be repaired Wednesday night.