Gas-line work to resume in German Village by end of April

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
Columbia Gas of Ohio will continue its line-replacement effort in German Village, starting in the eastern portion of the community by the end of April.

Columbia Gas of Ohio will continue to replace its lines in German Village, starting in the eastern portion of the community by the end of April. 

Company spokesman Luka Papalko said a start date hasn’t been determined for the second phase of the project, but both are expected to be completed by the end of the year. 

The first part of the work includes portions of Beck Street, Grant Avenue, Berger Alley, Jackson Street, Briggs Street, Blenkner Street, Ninth Street, South Lane and Lathrop Road. 

Papalko said residents have been notified through letters, email and other forms of communication. 

The work includes replacing individual and main lines and relocating gas meters from the inside of houses and businesses to the outside. 

He said some crews are doing final restoration work from last year’s line replacements, which were delayed because of weather and unforeseen issues. 

Torn-up yards, roads and sidewalks have been a constant for areas of German Village since Columbia Gas began the first project in 2017. 

Papalko said he understands residents’ complaints about the work but it will lead to a safer and more reliable system. 

“No doubt it’s short-term pain, but I like to characterize it as long-term gain as well,” he said. 

He also noted that the crews are abiding by COVID-19 coronavirus safety protocols when they have personal exchanges with the public and when they enter homes. 

“We understand the COVID concerns and safety is our No. 1 priority,” Papalko said. “If customers have any concerns about the work we’re doing or going into homes, please let us know.” 

The second 2021 project will include portions of Fifth Street, Macon Alley, Alexander Alley, Sixth Street, Kossuth Street, Purdy Alley and Lansing Street. 

Columbia Gas and the German Village Society reached an impasse in 2017 over the meter relocations. The GVS said the meters were safer inside than outside and worried about the aesthetics such a move would bring. Columbia Gas countered that moving the meters outside was safer and more efficient. 

The GVS hired an attorney but eventually reached a compromise with the utility: Gas meters would remain inside if there were no viable exterior location and the company would replace sidewalks and landscaping damaged by construction. 

It’s difficult to say when the project will be completed in the entire historic district, but it will be “definitely a couple of more years because of the age of the infrastructure,” Papalko said. 

Ron Waldron, owner of Village Petals, 573 S. Grant Ave., said he’s experienced the gas-line replacement effort throughout the neighborhood and said it hasn’t been bad for business. 

Waldron said as long as the gas company doesn’t obscure his storefront or make It difficult for customers, he’s fully supportive of the work. 

He said repairs made it into his neighborhood in 2019, when Columbia Gas was working on Jackson Street. The company notified residents and businesses of the work in advance, Waldron said. 

“Columbia Gas was very good” to work with, he said. 

gseman@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekGary