Worthington is ready to begin the arduous process of acquiring the public right of way necessary to construct its new Northeast Gateway.
The Northeast Gateway is the moniker city leaders have chosen for the renovation and redesign of the intersection of Sancus Boulevard and Worthington-Galena, East Wilson Bridge and Huntley roads on the north side of the city, just south of Interstate 270.
In January 2016, Worthington City Council approved the plan to transform the congested crossroads into two intersections slightly east and west of the current location.
But in order to make the planned changes, the city will need to acquire right of way from 124 parcels and 35 property owners.
To make that happen, Worthington City Council has approved contracts with three companies for appraisal work.
The contracts with TranSystems Corp., Martin + Wood Appraisal Group and Heritage Land Services total almost $340,000.
City Council also appropriated about $2.8 million for the land purchases.
Of that $2.8 million, about $2.3 million will be reimbursed by federal funds awarded for the project, according to a memo from Dan Whited, the city's service and engineering director.
Whited said appraisals would be reviewed by the city and the Ohio Department of Transportation, and each appraisal would be conducted on an individual basis.
The process could take 12 to 18 months, he said.
Although the right-of-way acquisition process would be a long one, Whited said, lengthy processes are the norm with this type of project.
"It's such a big project that I have a hard time nailing down any portion that's more difficult than anything else," he said. "It's one of many that are difficult."
The process is a difficult one for property owners, as well.
Carlo Cautela, 59, owns a parcel at 7069 Worthington-Galena Road, near the corner of East Wilson Bridge and Worthington-Galena roads.
He said he is frustrated by the way the city "just plows through things."
Cautela also said he has been told he stands to lose about half an acre of his one-and-a-quarter-acre property. And although he said some consultants have been in touch, he "just (wants) to be in the loop."
"I don't know what to expect from them now," he said of the city. "The fact that they're going to split this lot in half and it's going to kill it, I don't even know if I want to stay here at this point."
Whited said he thinks the city has done "an excellent job" reaching out to the property owners. He said he believed those property owners "understood that the process was a long one" and knew that there were many more updates to come.
"That communication will obviously be picking up now (that the appraisers have been hired)," he said. "But we've always been taking the phone calls and answering questions as they come up."
Cautela said that hasn't quite been his experience.
He said he does not want to give up "the best part of the land" and has no idea what kind of compensation he may be looking at. Also, very few people involved are picking up the phone, he said.
"It's like pulling teeth getting information," he said. "I can't get a straight answer from anybody."
Cautela said his family has lived on the property for 65 years. And although he wants to continue living there, he is not sure living on a new dead-end street and losing nearly half of his property would be worth it.
"This is our village. We did so much here," he said. "I wanted my grandkids to grow up on it."
For more information on the right-of-way acquisition process, go to worthington.org.