Home Depot’s corporate slogan is “You can do it. We can help.” But local officials in Maywood and Lodi, New Jersey think Home Depot can’t do a road improvement project, and the giant retailer needs help. After two years of roadwork, the project is still far from complete. The company is responsible for widening Essex Street as part of the original agreement with the communities of Maywood, Lodi, and Bergen County — but lack of progress “has neighbors fuming” according to The Record newspaper. The roadwork has gone nowhere in years, leaving large potholes, uncovered catch basins, out- of-line telephone poles, damaged driveways, and rough pavement like an obstacle course for drivers. One local apartment manager called Home Depot’s roadwork “a disaster.” “The most significant thing,” the property manager explained, ” is that there has been damage to businesses, and there is a possibility of physical injury and damage to people. It’s that dangerous what they have left behind.” Bergen County officials have sent a letter to Home Depot warning that if the company fails to remove the telephone poles this week, and complete the roadwork by Oct. 31, the county will remove Home Depot’s access to the store via Essex Street. The county also will call the company’s bond for its failure to improve the county street. “We feel that Home Depot is shirking its responsibility. They are creating a traffic nightmare for the surrounding businesses and the hundreds of motorists who travel through that stretch of road every day,” a county spokesman told The Record. “Our thinking is by removing access to their store, it will spur them to finish this long overdue project.” Local businesses have complained that Home Depot’s failure to remedy the situation has caused them financial harm. “This is killing small shop owners,” the owner of a car wash said. “We are little people compared to Home Depot. Home Depot is squashing us.” A Home Depot spokesman denied that charge, and said the drop off in customers at those businesses was not the home improvement chain’s fault. “I don’t believe that they can really show that it was caused by this,” the Home Depot spokesman said. “It could be the economy.”
The county approved plans to widen Essex Street in January 1998 but eight years later the work is still not done.
Remember this story when Home Depot comes before your town with a plan to widen roadways leading to their store. The county charges that Home Depot failed to implement construction engineering plans, built a sidewalk that does not meet engineering standards, and failed to remove the telephone poles in July. The company that says it is the largest home improvement chain in the world, cannot even finish a roadway leading to its store in Bergen County, New Jersey. They can do it — they just need help. While the big company takes its time, its smaller commercial neighbors are losing their shirt.