By Gil Martin
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Cafes and restaurants in the Comedy Square will no longer have terraces from Monday May 9th due to works. “Warned late”, they assure, they denounce the brutality of the announcement made on Tuesday April 26 by the City of Montpellier, during a meeting with city officials. A new meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 11, with a newly appointed mediator.
Nuisances in perspective
On the two “banks” of the main square, whether you are a trader on the side of the tram or the other, the observation is the same: consternation gave way to a deep sense of anger. In a famous establishment, the verdict is final. “It is an aberration. We understand that the City wants to develop this square, and we are aware that this will cause difficulties… But why such a late announcement, which does not give us time to look back? »
Professionals are wondering why start work now, at the start of the summer season, knowing that the construction site with all its nuisances will make them lose the summer, after two seasons strongly impacted by Covid-19, not to mention the Saturdays lost during demonstrations of the Yellow Vests…
For traders, it was necessary to start winter: “The impact would have been much less”
Elsewhere, we try to temporize, but the heart is not there: “In 2, 3 years, we will say” ah yes, the place of the Comedy is more beautiful, more attractive “… But in the meantime, the City takes us really surprised. I don’t know if the Mayor has taken the measure of the consequences of this choice as the season begins. The City could have worked with us to start the work in the fall and do most of the work during the winter”.
No work during the holidays
So, work in winter or work in summer? For traders, it was necessary to start winter: “We can no longer heat our terraces in winter”, recalls a café: “The work could therefore start at this time, the impact would have been much less”. But the city has decided for the month of May, no doubt scalded by the idea of carrying out the bulk of the work during the end-of-year holidays.
“Indeed, this solution would undoubtedly have had an impact on the entire city center during the holidays”, observes a trader: “I think that the City has chosen the works now to limit the impact of the future construction site to the restorers of the Comedy, so that people do not desert the Ecusson for the holidays”.
The restaurateurs are not taking off
Possible… Still, the prospect of nuisance (noise, dust, heat) makes restaurant owners fear “a rotten season”. Even though the City plans to install palisades to separate construction and terraces, even if the community has proposed to install terraces in the adjacent streets, the anger and disarray are palpable. “The boss had to hire 2 or 3 more servers, but there, everything is stopped”, we explain on the terrace of this café.
“These works will have serious consequences”, we resume next door. Faced with this concern fueled by a feeling of contempt, restaurateurs do not exclude legal action. Some have planned to bring bailiffs before May 8 to see the impact of the work after May 9: in the shade of the palisades, will their terraces empty?
Florists, market traders: they will have to move
Other professionals impacted by the upcoming construction site: florists and merchants at the Comédie market. The first ones will be moved to the Esplanade, the others (at least four of them) in front of the Tourist Office: “We don’t want to move”, says a florist: “We have been offered a bad location , we are going to suffer, ”she laments, asking for a meeting with the town hall. As for the merchants who will also be moved, if the short trip to the Tourist Office does not bother them, it is the future that they dread: “We know that the City no longer wants us on la Comédie, even if we don’t really know why”, comments a professional who has been living in the square for more than 20 years: “We are very vigilant: if the City intends to take advantage of the end of the works to evict us, it will not happen. not well… We will not let it go”.
Soon the palisades…
For the time being, the City is following its program: Monday, May 9 in the morning, the technical base of the site will be installed as planned behind the Opéra Comédie, then will follow the installation of the palisades in front of the cafes. On a white-hot Place de la Comédie, will the time of palisades turn into a time of barricades?
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