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Road Reconstruction Project Shrinks Front Lawn Without Notice, City Responds

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DES MOINES, Iowa-- One Des Moines south side resident says she came home to a shocking surprise Wednesday afternoon, two thirds of her yard was completely gone.

Resident Nancy Newell said she knew her street, South Union, was being reconstructed this summer, but what she didn’t know is that a sidewalk would take over her yard.

“I came home to my front yard missing. We’ve lived here 33 years and we’ve never had a sidewalk,” Newell said.

Des Moines City Councilman Joe Gatto said the South Union Street project is all part of major efforts to improve the city’s infrastructure through the Move DSM plan.

“So we are putting in the water lines. We’re going to pave the road and put sidewalks in. On the east side of the road, there’s about 14 properties that will be getting sidewalks that will have total connectivity. Now we will have sidewalks on both sides of the street from Army Post Road all the way to Hartford,” Gatto said.

Newell said she understands that sidewalks are important and she’s more frustrated that she didn’t receive written notice about them going in on her property.

"It's sad that I'll be losing what front yard I did have and that we didn't have enough time to really get used to the idea," Newell said.

She said after the work is complete she will only have about two feet of her front yard left.

"Well I'm just going to have to accept it, but also what's upsetting is the sidewalk is going to be maybe ten feet from our picture window. So it's almost like we've lost some privacy as well," Newell said.

The City of Des Moines Engineering Department responded with a statement:

“Following City Council approval of several sidewalk projects on Monday night, a work order went to the contractor who began construction before we could notify South Union Street residents about the added sidewalks. We apologize for this oversight. We will work to make sure that it does not occur again. To all our residents and businesses, we appreciate your patience and understanding as we move through this busy summer construction season. We know it is inconvenient as we upgrade streets, construct sidewalks and improve storm sewers in your neighborhood. It is a significant undertaking and we want to make sure it is done as efficiently as possible.”

Gatto said the South Union Street project is expected to be completed sometime in October.

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