New Columbia Roundabout Leaves Business Owner Upset

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COLUMBIA - Business owner George Godas said he has lost business since the city constructed a new roundabout in front of his restaurant George's Pizza and Steaks. The roundabout came as part of the second phase of Columbia's Clark Lane initiative.

Columbia Public Works spokesman Steven Sapp said the city followed all of the right procedures before starting the project. Sapp said, "Clark Lane was part of a voter approved ballot in 2005. We had an interested parties meeting too, where all business owners affected by the change would be able to voice their concerns."

But for Godas, the promises made before construction started are not the problem. Godas said he thought the roundabout was a great idea and the city promised a "new sign and beautiful entry" as well.

Godas said knew he was going to lose three months of business due to construction blocking off the entrance to his parking lot but he never anticipated he would lose business after construction was done.

Godas said, "My regular customers have messed up their tires and new customers don't even want to try to get in here. I am losing business and that's just not right."

The problem is a median inserted in the middle of the entrance customers use to enter and leave George's Pizza and Steaks. The width of the entrance is enough for a compact car but requires drivers to make a sharp turn off of the roundabout to enter. Godas said this keeps new customers from coming because when they miss the turn they just jeep going to the next place. He said it has affected his regular customers as well.

Stephanie Julian, a long time customer of Godas' said she experienced the damage the median has done first hand. Julian said, "I was entering the parking lot like I had always done but the curb was so sharp, and the drive way so thin, I hit the curb and his scraped my tire open."

Julian said she had to buy two new tires after the accident. She took pictures of the damage and immediately filed a complaint to the city. She went in and spoke with someone to be sure she was following the correct steps and then she never heard back. She filed the complaint in August.

This came as no surprise to Godas, who has been trying to get the city's attention for months. Godas said, "I call them and always get the same answer... safety, safety, its there for safety... well its not safe for my customers to be destroying their tires just trying to get into the parking lot!"

When asked why the city hasn't been responding to the complaints Sapp said, "The median is there for safety reasons and taking it out is not an option."

Sapp said there a specific process the city follows to deal with road complaints. After a complaint is filed, the city sends an engineer familiar with the road to look into the concern. The engineer then decides if the concern is due to an issue with the design or if it is the result of motorist behavior.

In the case of Godas and his customers' concerns, the city decided to insert plastic poles along the perimeter of the problem median. Sapp said they did this to make the median more visible. Godas said this doesn't solve the problem because it's the space in between the median and curb, not the presence of the median.

Godas said he would pay for the curb alteration and hire a work crew. He said, "I am not looking for the city to pay more for the project, at this point I just want permission to fix it myself."

The next step for Godas is to get lawyers involved. He said, "I love this city and want to be on good terms with everyone but when my business starts to be affected I can't just stand back and watch."

According to Sapp, city officials will look into the concerns and see if something was overlooked. He said, "We want to make sure we are doing everything right on our part."

(Editor's Note: This story has been edited to show Steve Sapp is a spokesman for, not director of, Columbia Public Works.)