As the Indiana Department of Transportation prepares the way for I-69 in Monroe County, Bloomington property owners near the Highway 37 intersection are feeling pressured to leave their homes too quickly. Original reports of the “Kitchen Table Discussions” between INDOT and property owners said the discussions were successful, but those talks may not have been as successful as the department claims.
In November, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, or AASHTO, a group which lobbies for major transportation projects, recognized INDOT for what they called the “highest standards of quality, service and performance” regarding the meetings with property owners in Section 4 of I-69. However, some property owners along the proposed route are not satisfied.
Greene County property owners, Tom and Kenda Jochim were surprised to discover INDOT was touting the success of the talks.
“We were told at the kitchen table meeting that they would offer us a fair price,” Tom Jochim says. “They haven’t been doing that. They have been consistently low-balling appraisals hoping that people would not come back and counter-offer.”
“So, it was, we have to hurry,” Kenda Jochim added. “You know, it was coming and we have to hurry.”
According to INDOT spokeswoman, Cher Elliott, the notion that property owners appreciated and were satisfied with the talks was based on a lower percentage of complaints on section 4 of I-69 compared to other sections.
“Survey and geotechnical field crews were able to complete their assigned tasks with 36 percent fewer complaints compared to previous work on the project in the corridor in sections 1, 2, and 3,” she says.
Indiana Public Media discussed the talks with residents from the Southwest side of Bloomington. Property owners who live less than a mile from where I-69 will intersect Highway 37 are currently in talks with INDOT and wished not to be identified for fear of reprisal but say they also feel rushed. One property owner says her 2-year old dream home will be gutted and demolished to make way for the highway.