Lack of notification strands residents during neighborhood work

A garage of a Spring Street home connects to Steup Avenue, where sidewalk replacement work is happening.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Several Summit City residents struggled getting in and out of their homes after work in the neighborhood left them stranded without notice.

The sound of construction woke up the residents of a home along Spring Street Thursday. To their surprise, the people inside found their driveway disconnected from the street it faces, Steup Avenue.

A nearby neighbor had a similar issue.

“I have a public alley that goes to my private drive and I don’t have access to the drive because they dug that up,” Emily Wilson explained.

The ‘digging up’ is standard for a project like this, replacing sidewalks and fixing a drainage issue.

Work on Steup Ave. can be seen from Spring Street.

It was the lack of notification of the work that led problems in the neighborhood, setting this situation apart from others and causing multiple neighbors to reach out to NewsChannel 15 looking for help.

While the work was not happening on Spring St., people who live in the 2000 block of the road can only access their homes where the the Steup Avenue work was being done.

“We did have an oversight and overlooked a couple of homes that really weren’t in the path of where the project was going to be, but we didn’t realize they needed to use that street to get to the alleys,” Board of Public Works Spokesman Frank Suarez said.

Residents along Steup Ave. were sent letters in the mail warning of the work ahead of time.

City officials and residents both told NewsChannel 15 the project is much needed in the area. The neighborhood has seen much standing water in recent years and the sidewalks are frequently used, with Price Elementary School being down the street.

“This was one of those projects that we’ve been able to squeeze in this year at the last second and find funding for it ,” Suarez added. “We’ve been trying to get it in the last two years and we able to do it this year. We are really pleased that we were able to do that and that may have contributed to the oversight of these two or three homes.”

With many similar neighborhood projects set to happen around the city, officials are taking another look at their systems for notifying people of work.

Suarez said contractors go door-to-door, but people are not always home. Door hangers can be effective, but some use garages to enter the home and don’t see their front door for multiple days. The city is also looking at utilizing online resources and social media more in the future.

“I’m not here to complain about what the city is doing,” Wilson added. “I think it’s great that they are helping us out by giving us better sidewalks and everything, but the thing I’m most concerned about is looking at this as a lesson for the future because I don’t want anyone else to go through the same issue.”