As Construction Looms, Neighbors Have Worries
A rendering of the Walnut Street side of the planned Lawrenceburg Event Center.
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – Construction on the new $49 million Lawrenceburg Event Center will begin in June, but there is already concern building among neighboring property owners and businesses.
Project managers held a meeting Tuesday at Lawrenceburg City Hall to address parking, construction, and traffic issues that will impact Lawrenceburg’s downtown both during and after construction.
The most shared concern among those in attendance was parking.
“We’ve identified a certain number of spaces in perpetuity to the hotel with another number of spaces available to Riverwatch,” said Tim Jensen, president of project manager Veridus Group, about the 740 spaces in the city’s parking garage at Ivy Tech Community College and Partners in Health.
The hotel will be guaranteed 180 spaces in the garage for the 180 rooms in the hotel. Partners in Health has an agreement for about 120 spaces from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. weekdays. Ivy Tech uses between 300 and 350 spaces during peak class times, said Jensen.
“So if we take all those different things out of there, let’s just say there are only 300 left over in the garage. In all the public spaces within a two block walking radius of the facility there are still over 700 spaces that are public spaces. That does not include the future 225 lot down the street (at Short and High streets),” Jensen said.
Owners of private parking lots could charge event-goers a fee for parking in their lots, Jensen suggested.
More on-street parking spaces could be made available west of the event center when Dearborn County demolishes at least one of two old buildings on West High Street across from the courthouse to create a new parking lot.
However, parking will be tighter during the construction which is expected to be complete in the Fall of 2013.
“There will be very limited parking on High Street during construction. Unfortunately, there is very little we can do about this,” Jensen said.
Also, the 225 space lot at Short and High will be occupied by Messer Construction as its supply lay down area.
Employees at the United Community Bank at the corner of High and Walnut will have parking available in the recently paved “burnout” lot across East High Street.
Members of Hamline Chapel worried about the fate of the Boy Scout Cabin. Jensen said there are no plans to destroy the 55-year-old cabin, but it may be moved. Local boy scouts leaders love the idea of moving the cabin to the historical area down the street where there would be space for bonfires and camping, Jensen said.
Jensen said the cabin does sit in a public right of way, but one Hamline member stated one document has shown that property as belonging to the church.
Work hours will typically be 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday with some work days starting at 5:00 a.m. for concrete pouring. Construction will not take place on Sundays, a detail that pleased some with Hamline.
Another Hamline member said the church holds other functions during the week.
“I worry about the library and I worry about our parking spots,” a woman said.
Jensen said because the church’s lot is private property, it will be up to them to police who parks there, whether it be posting signs or having violators towed.
“I don’t see why two non-profit places need to spend more money because of the problems that will be caused by parking,” she said. “When we have thousands of people it’s just not going to be good.”
Veridus Group has not yet met with Hamline Chapel representatives. Jensen said the company is waiting for other aspects of the plan to be finalized with city officials before going to the chapel to discuss solutions.
Former Lawrenceburg Mayor Bill Cunningham asked if proper permissions had been received from the Lawrenceburg Conservancy District and the Army Corps of Engineers. Jensen said the corps have passed all technical data in anticipation of the conservancy district’s stamp of approval. That could come within the next two weeks.
Jensen said some bids are expected to be returned by June 7.
Bruce Tumlin with the project’s construction manager, Messer Construction, said there will be at maximum 150 construction workers on site. There will be a large crane within the site to help erect the nine story hotel. The construction area will be blocked off by a six foot tall fence.
Contractors will park in the lot at the corner of Short and High streets. They will not be allowed to park on streets, Jensen said.
Heavy trucks associated with the event center project will be ordered to take a specific route through downtown: U.S. 50 to Front Street to High Street. Short Street will be an alternate route for trucks too large to fit beneath the railway tunnel on Front Street, Tumlin said.
Trucks which are seen taking other routes to the site will be warned by construction managers, said Jensen.
Tumlin and Jensen each wanted neighbors to understand that they will work to address any issues that arise, such as debris on the road or contractors parking out of their designated lot. Messer Construction’s office will be located on the first floor of the Elks Building and open to the public.
“We want that input. We don’t want people grumbling and complaining about the project all the time but never calling us to do anything about it. We need your assistance. Tell your neighbors and your friends that are out there, too,” Jensen said.
Messer and Veridus will work to update property owners and others who sign up with mailed or e-mailed notifications about the project’s progress.