NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WAVE) – The annual fall festival Harvest Homecoming is happening right now in New Albany, and is a tradition for thousands in southern Indiana.
This year, some business owners near part of the festival are feeling frustrated. They say they keep losing parking spots and accessibility to their businesses as projects around Underground Station continue to pop up.
Right now, the corner of Bank and Main is transforming.
“It’s just more and more like a war zone,” said Cisa Kubley, owner of Sew Fitting. “Every day when we come to work, we never know what we’re going to be faced with.”
Last week, crews wrapped up work on the new stop light off the freshly paved Bank Street. A new stop light typically takes three to four months, but city engineer Larry Summers said they finished this in 14 working days. They worked quickly in an effort to minimize impact to businesses and beat Harvest Homecoming’s crowds.
“We wanted to make sure we accommodated all those factors and got the best product for everyone involved,” Summers said.
Summers said their contractor would have delivered notices of work to businesses before major work began. Business owners disagree.
“We got a letter from the city but handed to us by the construction foreman, the city never came in, handed to us by the construction foreman saying ‘Work will begin on Monday,’” Kubley said. “This is probably Friday and work’s already started.”
The quick turnaround from when the project began moving forward and when notifications were sent out did happen quickly, Summers said.
“So it was a combination of just how meeting with utilities affected our schedule and knowing that our completion date was before Harvest Homecoming,” Summers said.
The closed-off road and parking blocked from work on the new City Hall brought a big drop for many businesses here, including Aladdin’s.
“We do the best we can to survive,” said Mike Sajaja, owner of Aladdin’s Mediterranean Restaurant. “But I can’t keep losing my sales and customers.”
Work on the new stop light is finally finished, freeing up much-needed space here to get to the Underground Station. But businesses say this isn’t the end to their parking woes, now that Harvest Homecoming has begun and rides are taking up space in the parking lots behind their businesses.
Harvest Homecoming has parked rides there for years. President Art Niemeier said he warned businesses they’d be using up the space weeks earlier.
“You have a need, you have something you need from us, give us a call, we’ll try and accommodate you as best we can,” Niemeier said. “We know it can be a hardship.”
The festival brings in thousands of visitors. It’s a big boom in business for some and a fresh source of frustration for others who just want easy access to their shops.
“We need more communication from the city, advanced notices of what’s going on,” Sajaja said.