GOSHEN — The Goshen Board of Works approved a two-month closure on Jefferson Street starting today for a parking lot construction project, after hearing from neighbors of the project who didn’t feel adequately warned.
The board approved the closure of Jefferson Street between 3rd Street and River Race Drive so the contractor can use the area just north of it as a staging area while building a parking lot to the south. The closure starts today and lasts until either Oct. 13 or the completion of the parking lot, according to Public Works Director Dustin Sailor.
The board also learned there will be a restriction of the west southbound lane of 3rd Street between now and Aug. 23 for the removal of an existing drive approach and installation of a new curb and sidewalk. The Indiana Department of Transportation requested the driveway removal as part of its permit for the parking lot.
Ahead of the vote, two 3rd Street residents came forward to ask why no one in the neighborhood was notified of the project ahead of time. They also asked how long the temporary parking lot would be in use.
One of them, Jerry Roth, was especially concerned about headlights shining into her house and wanted to know if the city would put up some kind of screening.
“To move it in the center of the neighborhood, without really informing us,” she said. “And that changes our whole view, every door we walk out, every window we look out, what we’re gonna see now is a gravel parking lot. One of the few things we have left to enjoy is our home and the scenery.”
Civil Traffic Engineer Leslie Biek said the temporary lot would be up till late October and then the ground would be restored to grass. She said it would only be used during business hours and isn’t meant for residents of the Hawks apartment building to use.
She also suggested having the parking angled in such a way that vehicles aren’t pointed at Roth’s house.
Mayor Jeremy Stutsman apologized for the residents not being notified.
“I do want to acknowledge, in hindsight, the city should have notified everybody in the neighborhood,” he said. “This was in the media quite a bit, a month or two ago, so we made some assumptions we shouldn’t have.”
He wasn’t sure if some type of screen could be put up because of what it might cost, especially for a temporary parking lot. But he said they could put up signs and talk to the Hawks management to encourage tenants not to use the lot.
He also encouraged Roth to contact the engineering department or City Hall if she does have any issues with headlights.
“I’m betting it’s not going to get much use in the evenings, because of the way it’s built and what it’s gonna be meant for,” he said. “But I also can’t promise that it won’t see use.”