At first, the City of South Bend told Gerry McKillip and her husband they wanted to take their Chippewa Avenue home. The relocation was necessary for the Fellows Street improvement project. In total, 31 homes were originally slated for demolition.
The McKillip’s have lived in their home for 46 years. They raised five kids there and were planning to move into an apartment in the next year or so. The city’s plan gave them a reason to do it sooner.
Gerry and her husband attended various public meetings to make sure the project was moving forward.
"I asked (city officials) three or four times whether for sure they were taking our houses and they said 'yes they were'," said McKillip.
But not all of the proposed 31 homeowners were as willing to give up their homes. Many of them asked the South Bend Redevelopment Commission to reconsider the plan. The commission agreed and now the project is on hold while city engineers look at alternatives.
That's caused a big problem for the McKillip's and some of their neighbors. Gerry and her husband have already put a security deposit on an apartment and had planned to move last month.
"Some of the people on Fellows Street have already bought a new house,” said McKillip. “Another one was going to close and now their hands are tied. What are they supposed to do?"
Scott Ford, South Bend's Community and Economic Development executive director, said Friday the project was never finalized. He hopes the city engineer and redevelopment commission can come up with a happy balance for those involved.
The McKillip's and many of their neighbors just wish the city would keep its word.
“We think that they should follow through with their promises instead of just leaving us up in the air," said McKillip.
South Bend Common Councilman Henry Davis Jr. said Friday city engineers have come up with four alternate routes for the project and a public hearing will be held to reveal those routes.
Davis did not yet have an exact day, time or location of the public hearing.