Tubes stick out of the ground, large piles of dirt sit in yards, and plywood covers holes when contractors leave a Greenwood neighborhood at the end of each day.
Metronet is installing fiber optic cables in the Clearbrook Lakes subdivision, and residents are frustrated with the neighborhood’s appearance and a lack of explanation while the work is underway. The work, which is being done by contractors hired by Metronet, began last week.
The company, which installs fiber optic cable for Internet and television services, is expanding across Johnson County and has done the same project in Franklin and Whiteland, and has plans for more Greenwood subdivisions in the near future. Metronet installed nearly 700 miles of fiber optic lines in Franklin and Whiteland, Metronet consultant Steve Biggerstaff said.
Installation of the lines soon will give residents and businesses access to the company’s TV and high-speed Internet services, Metronet spokesman Steve Biggerstaff said.
The goal is to reach all of Greenwood, where the company has had almost 600 people inquire about its services, in the next year.
The Greenwood project comes with a price tag of about $500,000. Metronet gets to keep property taxes paid on every foot of line that’s in the ground and will use the money collected to repay the investors initially funding the project.
But first, the company has to install cables in multiple subdivisions across the city in order to provide its business to those Greenwood residents asking for it. That means digging into the right of way or land owned by the city along sidewalks and neighborhood streets.
Currently, the company is going through the Clearbrook Lakes subdivision, near Stop 18 and Averitt roads. Metronet and city officials will decide together where work will go next. The city is being included in those decisions because Metronet’s biggest priority is staying involved and connected with the community, Biggerstaff said.
The Evansville-based company plans to complete work in two more neighborhoods in the next year, officials said.
Caryn Turell found out about the Metronet project when she received a hang tag on her door that left little explanation of what work the company would be doing and no specific timetable on how long that work would take. Resident Julie Shepherd said she received nothing.
“I got nothing that said what they were coming to do. They just came around and put flags out in the yard,” Shepherd said.
Some residents are upset with the impact of the work being done by contractors on their yards and neighborhood, on top of what they called poor communication about what exactly would be taking place during the following weeks, they said.
Before moving to Greenwood projects, the company installed cables in all of Franklin and in subdivisions in Whiteland. When work was done in the Whiteland area, the town heard from residents frustrated and aggravated with construction, town manager Norm Gabehart said. The city of Franklin also received complaints when work was being done, but the company was responsive to concerns, senior planner Joanna Myers said.
Some issues and complaints are just a part of any construction project, no matter where Metronet is working, Biggerstaff said. When Metronet does projects, it is often invasive for period of time, and the company has never had a project with zero complaints, he said.
But he said Metronet prides itself on communication and the importance of informing residents. For example, the door hangers left a number to call with questions, he said.
“Our partnership with the city and the neighborhood is really important to us,” he said. “It’s hard to inform the area, so that communication is something we constantly work on, and it’s everyone’s responsibility. It’s our responsibility, the supervisor’s responsibility and the contractor’s responsibility.”
In Clearbrook Lakes, residents’ main complaints centered on the way crews leave their work at the end of the day, said Shepherd, who serves as vice president of the homeowners association.
Parents are concerned with where their kids are playing and what they are playing with while the construction goes on, Turrel said. She said her neighbor runs a day care, and the construction has made her worried about the kids.
“Anybody who has little kids is having to be really careful with what their kids play with, and there’s a safety issue with kids who ride their bike because of the construction blocking sidewalks and equipment parked along the road,” Turrel said.
Aside from trucks, construction requires boring equipment, tubing that covers the fiber lines and typical construction tools such as shovels.
One weekend, workers left a truck near the work site, partially blocking a driveway until the president of the homeowners association called the manager, Shepherd said.
Last week, workers hit Turrel’s cable line, cutting her Internet and television for most of the day. The accident left a frustrated her in a bind because most of her work is done from home, she said. On Tuesday morning, contractors hit a gas line and forced Shepherd to leave her house for several hours while they fixed the leak.
Turrel’s husband, Jeff Kabziski, said he is also concerned about the fiber optic tubes sticking out of the ground.
“How is that OK?” Kabziski said. “Safety-wise, eyesore-wise, I don’t see how that kind of workmanship is acceptable. These guys are doing their job, probably, the way they were told to do it. For me it’s just, I shake my head.”
The tubes protect the fiber running through them and have to be left sticking out of the ground so the contractors can get to them when they resume work the next day, Biggerstaff said. Multiple tubes are coming out of the ground because it gets done faster when they do them at once. If the tubes were put back in the ground, there would have to be more digging, he said.
Biggerstaff said he has spoken with the contractors and their supervisors and explained the importance of being neat, clean, safe and helpful.
“I talked to a couple of residents myself to measure the reaction,” he said. “Some instances I saw where dirt could have been placed in the yard instead of the sidewalk, and inspected areas that could potentially be a safety hazard.
“My response is be patient and know we do care even though at times you may think we don’t. We are going to get this done as quickly as possible. This is going to be very short-lived.”
The goal is to be done with the work at Clearbrook Lake soon and to clean up and leave the areas where construction was done so that it looks like contractors were never there, Biggerstaff said.
Metronet will resod all holes and areas where contractors had to dig for installation.
Dave Ochs, a Clearbrook Lakes resident, isn’t as concerned about what will be done to fix the holes where contractors are digging.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” Ochs said. “It’s not a big deal to me. If they don’t fix the holes, I will. The contractors haven’t been an inconvenience. They’ve actually been very courteous.”
About: The company provide high-speed Internet, television and phone services through fiber optic lines.
History: Metronet has been in the fiber optic business since the 1970s. Fiber-optic lines are hair-thin strands of glass that can quickly transmit large amounts of data.
Expansion: In Johnson County, the company has installed lines in Franklin, Whiteland and New Whiteland. The installation is a part of a $17 million expansion project.