Utility work causes complaints

By BROOKE STEVENSON
Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE — Business owners here have complaints about construction work being done behind their buildings.

Utility work in the alley behind Biddle Gallery, Biddle Avenue Florist, Colombo & Trager, P.C., and Downriver Stone Design, all on Biddle Avenue, has raised some concerns with the owners.

Tom Woodruff, owner of Downriver Stone Design, said he and others have concerns with the project that entails placing utilities underground for the Wyandotte Art Center project at 81 Chestnut.

“This project was started in March,” he said, “it is now July and we are still waiting for it to be completed.”

He says that the project has been stalled for three months, with the exception of concrete cutting in May.

“At the beginning of this undertaking, we were assured that the work would be done very quickly and with little disruption to our businesses,” he said in a letter to the City Council on June 29.

“We have dangerous holes, piles of dirt, conduit and barricades all over,” he added. “Currently, we are unable to park our vehicles behind our places of business.”

He said the condition of the excavations behind Biddle Avenue Florist and his business were dangerous, and could leave the city open to a lawsuit if a resident got hurt.

The business owners had spoken with Jerry Kupser, Transportation and Distribution Superintendent for Municipal Services, about the issue in early May, according to Woodruff.

“He advised that they ‘were almost at the point of replacing cement and the transformers were in from the manufacturer,’” Woodruff said. “We have been unsuccessful in our attempts to bring this venture to a conclusion, and our patience has been stretched very thin.”

Though the owners had voiced their frustration about the project taking longer than expected, Woodruff said they did not want to stall the art center project.

“We think that the art center that is being worked on in the back (of their buildings) is a wonderful thing for Wyandotte and for our businesses,” he said.

The project currently being worked on for the art center is an underground power system, which consists of putting all of the cables underground.

Since early March, Woodruff said, “there have been holes dug, holes left open, damage to the Biddle Gallery in back.”

During the course of the project, the foundation of the gallery was cracked and cement was mistakenly poured down a drain in the alley and is believed to have caused flooding to the business.

“What we are looking for is to get a completion date and move this along, because it is interfering with our business,” Woodruff said. “It interferes with our deliveries and we have to park on Chestnut.

“If the work would be moved along and get some completion, everything would be fine.”

He added that a hole dug by the crew had been left open for about six weeks, with just a piece of plywood left on top of it.

“You know how kids are,” he said. “They peek in things, and next thing you know somebody gets hurt.”

Mayor Joseph Peterson said the damage done during the course of the project has slowed its progress.

“It’s just going to take a little bit more time to get it done,” he said. “I know that (the business owners) are concerned that this has been going on for you for a long time.

“We will be stepping it up a little bit.”

Municipal Services plans to fix the problems no later than July 29.

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