Procedures Ready, But Blocked In Phase 4
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – As the Otsego County hovers on the brink of entering Phase Four under NY Forward, Luisa Montanti, Southside Mall manager, has been receiving “hundreds” of emails and texts, all asking the same question.
“They ask,, ‘Why isn’t the mall open?’” she said. “I’m asking the same thing.”
On Tuesday, Robert F. Mujica Jr., the state’s budget director, said that Governor Cuomo had made the decision not to allow malls, gyms and movie theaters to reopen when many regions, including the Mohawk Valley, reach Phase Four. No opening date has been given.
The news came as a shock to Montanti, who originally believed that the mall could open under the retail guidelines in Phase Two.
“I reached out to the Regional Control Room two weeks ago and asked them when we could open,” she said. “I still haven’t gotten an answer back. They should be working with all the businesses, but I don’t feel like we’re being represented.”
She worked with the Regional Control Room in helping the Cutting Crew open for appointments under Phase Three guidelines, but that was the last she heard from them.
“There’s a big difference between us and Crossgates Mall,” she said. “We’re less of a mall and more of a shopping center, and we have procedures in place to accommodate our customers safely.”
In not hearing from the Regional Control Room, she said she has reached out to state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, for help. “I’m doing this for the small businesses in our mall,” she said. “As of right now, only a few of our stores are even ready to open, which would mean we’d have a more gradual opening, something I would feel more comfortable with, as a manager.”
In addition to Cutting Crew, all stores with their own entrances, including Dick’s Sports Goods, TJ Maxx, JC Penney’s and Petco are open, and restaurants such as Panera Bread, Applebee’s, Five Guys, Mt. Fuji and Perrucci’s Pizza are doing take-out and limited dine-in service.
“I do the inspections myself,” she said. “Everyone is following the rules, and the customers are being great. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be open.”