NEW ALBANY — Walking in his back yard and looking down on Slate Run Creek, Dennis Feiock said when his family moved to the Klerner Lane property, the creek was one of his favorite areas to play.
He still loves his home and property, but the creek he fell in love with decades ago has changed. And not for the better, he said.
Feiock said after a large rainfall, or a sudden downpour, the small creek turns into a raging river, and he has video to prove it. That water, over time, is causing erosion and slowly eating away at his property and others who live along its banks.
“It’s a major issue. I have been fighting the city over stormwater for the past 25 years,” he said.
Now Feiock said a city-planned project in the area will only add to the stormwater issues for people who live near it along Klerner Lane and Mount Tabor Road. He said the plans to put sidewalks along both sides of Mount Tabor, with gutters, will only add to drainage problems. Gutters are fine, he said, if the water had a place to go besides Slate Run Creek.
“We want the water to go away from everybody,” he said.
Feiock said he began to notice changes in stormwater and erosion in the 1970s. He said once the Northgate development off Grant Line Road, near Mount Tabor, was constructed, the issues just magnified.
Now, he said, the seven acres of more concrete proposed — which includes the sidewalks and gutters — will just add to his misery.
Another issue he opposes is the city’s plan to replace the four-way stop at Klerner Lane and Mount Tabor Road with a traffic signal. Plans to put a roundabout there were scrapped three years ago after residents voiced their concerns.
Feiock said the four-way stop works perfectly now and a traffic light, which he says is not needed, will only back traffic up at certain times of the day.
The main part of the “improvement” project is to build sidewalks and gutters on both sides of Mount Tabor, along with 1.1 miles of road construction.
John Rosenbarger, public works project supervisor for the city, said the work is needed since the road is cracking and shifting near Slate Run Creek slopes, and also to provide sidewalks for pedestrians.
Feiock and other residents said sidewalks should only be constructed on the south side of Mount Tabor, not on the side where the slopes are located. He said that will cause more of a safety issues for walkers to be that close to traffic and the slopes.
But Rosenbarger said sidewalks are needed on both sides of the roadway..
“If we just put them on one side, pedestrians and those living on the other side would have to cross the road in mid-block to get to the sidewalk. That would create a safety issue,” he said. “Plus there is the ADA component.”
Feiock disagrees. “That just doesn’t make sense to anybody,” he said.
He said the only destinations on the north side of Mount Tabor Road are 11 homes and a cemetery.
As for the stormwater problems, Rosenbarger said, that is a separate issue from the road project.
People near the intersection have signs in their yard criticizing the city and the proposed project which is slated to begin at the end of next year. Once engineering and other issues are finished, the city will begin to purchase right-of-way.
A public project review and open house is set for Aug. 22, from 6 to 8 p.m., at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 1752 Scheller Lane, New Albany, in the basement area. Representatives from the engineering consultants for the project, Beam, Longest, and Neff, along with city officials will be available to answer questions or concerns brought up by neighbors.
Rosenbarger said the work is long overdue in the area. He said when finished it will mirror recent road improvements projects on Rainbow Drive and Daisy Lane.
The reconstruction project will cost around $6.5 million, of that the city is responsible for 20 percent — or about $1.3 million — with the federal government paying the rest.
"In the meantime, project and city officials will be contacting residents directly as they pertain to individual concerns," Rosenbarger said. “We recognize the need to improve communication.”
Rosenbarger said the neighbors and residents will be proud of the project once it’s complete.
“It will transform the neighborhood, it’s just a little painful getting there," he said. "But people will be pleased when it’s finished.”