Neighborhood could be demolished as part of road project

Several South Bend residents who could be forced out of their homes as part of a Fellows Street project spoke out at a public hearing Monday night.

The state is building a bridge over the bypass that will connect Fellows Street on each end as part of the U.S. 31 Major Moves campaign.

As a result, traffic is expected to increase in the neighborhood – to the tune of 6,500 to 8,000 cars over the next two decades.

To accommodate that increase, South Bend wants to widen roads in the neighborhood.

But that will require demolishing 30 homes.

“You're losing 30 taxpayers right there and there's a lot of us who are upset enough we will not move back into the city,” said Adam Detwiler.

Detwiler’s family will lose their home if the project moves forward.

He says he’s not only worried about how they’ll be impacted, but how some south side businesses will cope with the change.

“They're diverting traffic away from businesses on 31 and Ireland,” he said.

But his neighbor, Matt Hanover, is in favor of the project.

Hanover and his family have lived in the neighborhood for several years. During that time, his concerns about safety have increased.

“The traffic on the street is already to the point we're uncomfortable with our children playing outside alone,” he said.

Hanover says while moving out of his home will be emotional, something has to be done.

“The bridge is already being built by the state and the traffic is going to come,” he said. “And I think it's only responsible to alter the street to accommodate that.”

The committee asked city engineers to prepare another presentation outlining the other options to help deal with the anticipated traffic problem.

Chairman Henry Davis Jr. says he wants to make sure the city isn’t demolishing homes unnecessarily.

“I don't think this process has been as transparent as it should have been,” he said. “We don't want the residents to feel like they don't have any input.”

Davis Jr. asked for planners to meet with concerned residents again before the measure returns to the council.

Engineers will give a presentation at the July 12 Redevelopment Commission meeting about the possible solutions for Fellows Street.

While no timeline is set for demolition of the homes, INDOT plans to have the Fellows Street Bridge complete by summer of 2013.

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