ONAWA, Iowa (KCAU) – Earlier this year, a major construction project began along Onawa’s main street, but it has proven to be an inconvenience for some business owners along the street. Construction along Onawa’s main street began in April of this year, but fast forward five and a half months and crews are still working on the project.
“Thank God my husband has a job. For real. Thank God my husband has a job. And thank God I have very loyal clients,” Cosmetologist and Owner of Reflections Hair Nails and Tanning Darla Mohr said.
“As far as being a nuisance it’s mostly to all of our customers. Instead of being able to walk, you know, 10-15 feet now have to walk sometimes half a block, a whole block completely around the buildings,” Owner of Frannie’s Cafe Jade Johnson said.
Onawa’s downtown renovations began on April 3 and were scheduled to take 160 days to complete. It’s now been at least 176 days (since this article was published) since it started.
“It’s very frustrating, business is down. I don’t get the walk-in clients and even my regular clients that would call and make an appointment are going elsewhere because my clientele is in the elderly and they can’t walk,” Mohr said.
“Even with the parking, there’s only a couple of spots back there and even sometimes we have trouble finding parking when we have to work and everything,” Nail Technician at Reflections Hair Nails and Tanning Elizabeth Harlan said.
Tracy Holland became Onawa’s mayor three months before the contract for the project was presented to the city council. She says she’s aware of the community’s concerns and is frustrated herself.
“I inherited this. The ones from the city who are overseeing this project which is John Cassidy and Patrick Mouw. They have been in meetings that, of course, I did not, was not there except the city council meetings where they stated that it was mandated by Iowa DOT. And it turns out in the last couple of days we have found out that no, Iowa DOT is not mandating anything,” Onawa Mayor Tracy Holland said.
We were unable to get ahold of Cassidy and Mouw. Holland explains what the downtown project entails.
“This was an agreement made between the city of Onawa who went to the Iowa DOT for a beautification project. As far as I know, the major changes is that we went from four lanes to three lanes and we took out our only stoplight. So it’s going to be a four-way stop,” Holland explained.
Business owners like Mohr say they want better communication on city construction that may impact their livelihood.
“And we were told this is supposed to be done by the end of October, November and there’s no way, no way. And how are they going to plow back there,” Mohr said.
“I think just honesty and transparency through the project would have been so much more helpful and, you know, everybody here is resilient, everybody here wants to support,” Johnson said.