Apr. 17—GREENTOWN — Greentown business owners and elected officials are concerned that the extensive roadwork on Indiana 22 will have a negative effect on local businesses.
The town's main thoroughfare — Indiana 22 (known as Main Street within town limits) — will be closed for the better parts of the next two years as the busy state road undergoes an extensive resurfacing project.
Construction will be done in four phases, with the first phase beginning this month and continuing until the beginning of October. Construction will then resume in spring 2022.
In all, the project is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2023 and will be an investment of more than $8 million, according to INDOT's statewide construction map.
When it's done, a new bridge overlay over Wildcat Creek, new sidewalks and a full road resurfacing of Indiana 22 will have been completed. The Indiana Department of Transportation said construction would begin on April 1, but construction has yet to begin as of earlier this week.
There's little doubt the project won't benefit the town in terms of aesthetics and ensuring that one of the most traveled state roads in Indiana remains viable for decades to come.
But there's genuine fear of how well the small businesses in Greentown that call Indiana 22 home will be able to weather the two-year project.
Michelle Barr, general manager of Hometown Family Restaurant, said she's not worried about Greentown residents making the short trek to the restaurant once construction begins, but she is concerned about whether or not out-of-town regulars will still visit once construction is in full swing.
"We're not happy about it," Barr said about the construction. "We don't know what it's going to do to our business. We don't know how people are going to get here. Nobody's happy about it, but what can you do?"
Barr's sentiments are not unique.
A handful of business owners in Greentown that were reached by the Tribune this month expressed similar feelings of fear of the unknown.
Brad Miller, co-owner of Miller's Farm Market, said customers typically arrive at the market by taking Indiana 22 and turning left at the stoplight at Meridian Street, but now the business is instructing its customers to take C.R. 100 North or come up south from Meridian Street.
"We have a lot of concerns because we have a lot of customers come out of Kokomo that use 22 as the main thoroughfare to come to us," Miller said. "We'd just like everyone to know that we're still going to be open throughout this entire thing and that 100 North is a pretty nice road."
Business owners aren't the only ones with concerns.
The Greentown Main Street Association has been vocal on social media and with yard signs trying to popularize the slogan "Keep the Green in Greentown," challenging residents to spend more dollars at local businesses during the construction.
Town officials say Indiana 22 will be open for local traffic during the construction periods, but they worry people may decide to avoid the area due to the hassle.
Mark Lantz, vice president of the association and a town councilman, said he fears local businesses will suffer a significant decrease in revenue.
He implored those who frequent Greentown but don't live in the town to continue to support the businesses throughout the construction period.
"Greentown is not closed," Lantz said. "We still want folks to come in, be inconvenienced a little bit and patronize our merchants and make sure they're still being supported ... Some of our businesses are operating at pretty tight margins, so to lose, or potentially lose that much revenue, is going to be pretty devastating to them."
Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich