Loop construction complete, but problems remain unsettledThe construction project on Business Loop East is all done but the paperwork, according to Steve Windish, project manager for Ulteig Engineering. Substantial completion of the project occurred June 5. At that point the project was complete to the point all streets could be opened to normal traffic.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The construction project on Business Loop East is all done but the paperwork, according to Steve Windish, project manager for Ulteig Engineering. Substantial completion of the project occurred June 5. At that point the project was complete to the point all streets could be opened to normal traffic.
That still leaves one business owner in the area unhappy with the way detours were handled and with communication from the construction company, engineering company and city officials.
“Customer access was an issue that never really was addressed,” said Dr. Gary Pearson, owner of Prairie Veterinary Clinic located along the frontage road on Business Loop East. “I’ve never gotten a substantial response from any of them on this.”
Windish said access to all businesses was maintained throughout the project.
“We had talked from the beginning how we would maintain access to all businesses,” he said. “It was a construction zone and you couldn’t always drive to the front door.”
Pearson maintains the detours had poor signage.
“There was one sign up for Prairie Vet,” he said. “You’d end up in Fargo if you followed the sign.”
Pearson maintains a file of people who contacted him seeking information on how to reach his clinic. He also said some customers, and even some delivery trucks, found the only way to reach his business was by driving over the curb of other parking lots and driving across lawns.
“Most older drivers wouldn’t attempt it,” he said. “It is ludicrous to think it won’t be any impact on business.”
Pearson maintains his business has not recovered from the eight months of construction. He operates the business now with two fewer veterinarian technicians after one left on maternity leave and the other took another job.
“Things have not got back to normal,” he said. “It didn’t fully recover last winter and this year it dropped off even more.”
He speculated that people who started going to another clinic would continue the habit and his business may never return to the pre-construction normal.
In May, Pearson, Richard and Jean Seekins, owners of the Star Lite Motel, and Dale Redinger, owner of S & R Truck Plaza, made a request to the Jamestown City Council for compensation for lost business.
During the June City Council meeting, Pearson, Seekins and Redinger were told a city attorney’s opinion said there were no provisions in law that would allow any form of reimbursement to them for lost business during construction.
“They were asking for something there is no basis for,” said Ken Dalsted, city attorney. “Unfortunately people who have a business along a major thoroughfare have to go through this kind of disruption.”
Pearson said he had asked for a copy of the attorney’s opinion but it had not been furnished to him. He also estimated he had written 15 letters over a two-year period to city officials.
“Common courtesy would require they at least acknowledge letters from constituents,” he said. “One letter from any city official. That was (Pat) Nygaard trying to excuse what they’d done.”
Nygaard was a City Council member at the time he wrote the letter but has since left the council.
The most recent issues Pearson reported involved access to his mailbox. He said he was forced to get his mail at the post office for two months before city crews added some concrete along the street in front of his business in late June.
“The mailbox is just part of the problem,” he said. “It’s hard to know how much is incompetence and how much is stupidity.”
The Business Loop East project cost $5.3 million and replaced water, sewer and storm sewer lines below the road beds before rebuilding the roads. The project began in spring 2011 but was hampered by wet weather and high water.
Mayor Katie Andersen did not return calls seeking comment. Reed Schwartzkopf, city engineer, deferred requests for comment to the city attorney.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com