Fairchild business owners stranded

By Diane Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published:

It's also draining away most of his business, something he said he didn't expect when the road project started.

"This is just devastating us," said Kamburoff, who operates Kamburoff's Farm Market at 1090 Fairchild Ave. "This is our livelihood. This is how we make all our money."

Since last month, Fairchild Avenue has been closed west of the railroad tracks while workers excavated peat from the road bed. That work, expected to continue through September, is part of a major road reconstruction that will include sewer and water lines, sidewalks, storm sewers, sidewalks and bike lanes.

Earlier this week, the road was also closed just west of Silver Meadows Boulevard while East Ohio gas relocated a gas line. The line, which serves the Forest Lakes subdivision, was installed in the wrong location, said Mark Recktenwald of the city engineer's office, lying where the city had planned to locate sewer lines.

The gas line relocation was expected to be completed Tuesday, but business owners along Fairchild Avenue say that work, in addition to the work going on already, has hurt their businesses.

The city has made an effort to help Kamburoff's produce business survive a summer without much traffic on Fairchild Avenue. Recently, Kent City Council gave Kamburoff permission to set up a roadside stand at West Main Street and Gougler Avenue downtown.

But although Kamburoff said the additional stand has helped, it also costs him more in time and money because he must haul his produce to the stand and hire people to staff it. His sales of birdseed and garden supplies, which are not sold at the roadside stand, have dropped by 90 percent, he added.

"It's almost not worth it," he said. "It's helped us bring our business to 30 to 40 percent of what it should be."

He also complained the roadwork, which includes "de-watering" the ditch, has cut the water that goes to his irrigation pond.

Recktenwald, however, said although the de-watering pumps have impacted the water table in the area, they are necessary so the water and sewer lines can be installed.

During the process, he said, the contractor is pumping water back into Kamburoff's pond. Temporary city water is also being provided to a few other property owners whose wells are dry because of the work.

Once the city work is done, he said, water levels in the ponds and wells will rise.

By the end of September, the road bed where the peat was removed is expected to be rebuilt and paved. After that, Recktenwald said, two lanes of traffic will be maintained until the project is completed in October 1998.

The road delays have created some increases in emergency response times, said Capt. Tim Morrison of the Kent Fire Department, although fortunately, the delay hasn't jeopardized anyone's safety. The fire department is updated daily on the status of the roadwork, he added.

Richard King, owner of King's Auto Repair, said although his regular customers are still finding their way to his business, new customers are deterred by the construction.

"It's definitely cut my business by at least a third, and it's not getting any better."

On Monday morning, he said, he was stuck in traffic with 22 other vehicles whose drivers also assumed they could head west on Fairchild Avenue from Silver Meadows Boulevard. He said he was never told the road would be closed, and there were no signs explaining it.

"I understand once it's all done, there will be a definite improvement, and we need it badly," he said. "I guess it's a temporary inconvenience for a permanent improvement. Once it's done, the traffic flow will help my business. I just hope everything is on schedule."

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