Fraser Sinkhole Affects Local Businesses

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Fraser Sinkhole Affects Local Businesses

Photo by Madison Mitchell

Photo by Madison Mitchell

Photo by Madison Mitchell

Photo by Madison Mitchell

Madison Mitchell, Flash Reporter

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Approximately ten years ago, a sinkhole opened up in the city of Fraser and took months to repair. Recently, the sinkhole reopened causing much destruction in its path. Along with swallowing houses and causing evacuation of neighborhoods, the massive sinkhole has affected surrounding businesses and their staff members.

Questions have been raised about the cause of the sinkhole reopening. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality stated in a Detroit News article that improvements in infrastructure are vital due to the issues and opening of the Fraser sinkhole. This statement has also raised the question: is the city responsible for the sinkhole? Due to lack of inspection of the sewer pipes in the area, the sinkhole was able to open once again sparking the inconvenience and hardship for multiple aspects of the community.

Encore Dance Centre, owned by Sherri Detloff, is located on 15 mile and Utica road inside a strip mall complex. When the sinkhole emerged, traffic and construction seemed to be the main issue for this particular business.

“It’s been incredibly inconvenient trying to get in and out of the strip mall since we only have one entrance now,” Detloff said.

Some staff members, including Chelsea Kutzleb, are currently facing traffic problems as well.

 

“It only affects it [traffic] right when I get to that intersection… I do have to go a little bit around because normally I would just go straight up 15,” Kutzleb said.

Although they are farther away from the sinkhole, construction manages to block entrances and areas many staff members and families travel from to get there. Along with traffic struggles, water and plumbing has become a problem there as well.

“Also, we’ve had sewer backups in our bathrooms,” Detloff said.

Not only has this been the case for Encore but for other businesses within the plaza.

On the other side of the intersection on 15 mile and Utica is Tim Hortons. I spoke with the manager, Julia Heyman, about the decline in business caused by the sinkhole.

“We are down 40 percent in sales,” Heyman said. “I had to let some people go, lay some people off, and cut their hours.”

The opening of the sinkhole and the construction work around it have caused Tim Hortons to lose nearly half of their usual business overall affecting them negatively. Once again, road work has also become a problem for both staff and customers. Anyone who attends this Tim Hortons location has to cut through the Meijer parking lot off of Utica while dealing with construction and heavy traffic.

Government and county officials have noticed the effects the sinkhole has had on businesses and the community as well. One county official, Mark Hackel, has seen the impact throughout the city.

“Now you’ve got the businesses in that area that are impacted because people do not want to travel there. And the question becomes: is this something as it gets fixed people are either going to feel confident enough or comfortable enough to still live in that area,” Hackel said.

Overall, the sinkhole has majorly affected everyone in the city of Fraser around it: residents of the city have lost homes, money, and convenient ways of travel through the fixing process; businesses have lost income due to the traffic congestion and road blockage; and the roads are still undergoing major construction. Once the sinkhole is repaired, there is hope that neighborhoods will be restored and businesses will be booming once again.

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