Wider Fellows Street needed to handle traffic, planner says
The skeleton of a wooden deck he recently quit building stands over his shoulder. A water feature he had been landscaping is at his feet.
He was working on making the yard into a little “Shangri-La” to enjoy with his wife, Trina.
But there’s really no point anymore.
The Detwilers will be forced to move later this year. So will residents in about 30 other houses in this tidy neighborhood along Fellows Street, north of Ireland Road.
City officials are planning to demolish the homes, widen Fellows and realign it to connect smoothly with Chippewa Avenue, creating a new thoroughfare between Ireland and Michigan Street.
“I’m 35 years old, and it’s taken me this long to find a place I can call home,” Adam Detwiler said of the quad level he and his wife bought a few years ago.
It has 3,200 square feet of living space, hardwood floors, a sandstone fireplace.
Trina Detwiler said she feels the road project is a waste of taxpayers’ money.
She’s heard city leaders talk about needing more funding to clear vacant, abandoned properties in blighted areas. “Instead, they want to spend money to tear down a good neighborhood,” she said.
Although the plan to widen Fellows Street north of Ireland Road is a city project, it’s really a reaction to the Indiana Department of Transportation’s work on Fellows south of Ireland.
InDOT is building a bridge that will carry Fellows over the St. Joseph Valley Parkway and connect it with neighborhoods to the south. The overpass will help emergency responders reach those neighborhoods more easily after the agency finishes upgrading U.S. 31 to a limited-access highway.
South Bend city planner Bill Schalliol said that overpass will funnel up to 8,600 additional cars per day onto Fellows north of Ireland. The street, under its current configuration, wouldn’t be able to handle that volume of traffic, he said.
InDOT spokesman Matt Deitchley said the overpass is scheduled to open in July next year.
Schalliol said the city’s plan is to acquire all the property it needs along Fellows by late winter, put the project out for bids in the spring and open the new street by late fall or early winter of 2013.
The city will spend about $7 million in tax increment finance revenue to design and build the wider, realigned Fellows. Schalliol said that number includes more than $3 million for property acquisition.
In addition to the 30 full properties the city will acquire for the project, another six property owners in the neighborhood will lose parts of their yards but be able to stay in their homes.
Of the 36 properties that will be directly affected, Schalliol said 27 are owner-occupied homes, three are rentals and three are vacant.
John Martz, who has lived with his wife, Betty, on the east side of Fellows for the past 36 years, said there’s no way the city can truly compensate people for taking their homes.