LAGRANGE — Employees with businesses on Commerce Drive arrived at work Friday morning nearly unable to drive to their designated companies due to high waters.
And this isn’t the first time employees have had difficulty arriving to work after heavy rains or snow melting.
Employees at STACI Corporation have been known to walk through knee-high water in order to arrive to or leave from work.
“This is not just a once-a-year occurrence,” said Dennis W. Docherty, STACI Corporation chairman and CEO. “Each time that we have heavy rains, this occurs.”
Docherty said the high water creates problems for employees trying to get to work as well as visitors trying to reach other companies on Commerce Drive for meetings and deliveries.
“Employees working at businesses on Commerce Drive are prisoners once they arrive to work or chastised because they can’t get to work as a result of these conditions,” he said.
Docherty said when these poor driving conditions have occurred during the day in the past, several people haven’t been able to get through the water to go home.
“They have had to abandon their vehicles and search for other ways to get out,” he said. “Some have been seen walking through the knee-high water just to get to the other side for transportation.”
Docherty said this has been an ongoing issue that has been raised before LaGrange Council over the years, but there is still no resolution.
“How can the village of LaGrange think that they can continue to bring new business into the area if these types of issues continue?” Docherty asked. “The companies on Commerce Drive in LaGrange pay taxes to the community and are being discriminated against.”
Mayor Kim Strauss explained that the businesses built on Commerce Drive were erected before he and his Council were elected, and many of the businesses are on private property.
“We have tried to work with them and tried to assemble with them. They need an easement,” Strauss said, adding it would also benefit the businesses to have more basins on the street than they do now. At the moment, there is only one, whereas on Opportunity Way there are more than enough to catch over-flowing waters.
Strauss said the village agreed to help partially finance the repairs needed for Commerce Drive, but the business owners did not agree to pay the other portion.
Strauss said the drains are not big enough and the creeks and drainage ditches are often clogged.
“It’s our road, too, and we don’t like that it floods,” Strauss said. “We have been made aware of the issue, but we did not get the cooperation (needed) from the businesses (to improve the street). So when it rains, we have to put up ‘Road Closed’ signs.”