RYAN LOVELACE | MANAGING EDITOR
Rocky Ripple residents have reacted negatively to the construction Butler University brought to their neighborhood and to the traffic that will come from the new long-term parking lot.
“The neighbors there are ready to lynch me over it,” said Rocky Ripple town council member Robert Tomey, who approved Butler’s parking plan. “Actually to the point of wanting to throw a rope around a tree.”
Stephanie, a Rocky Ripple resident who declined to provide her full name, lives on Lester Street next to the new lot under construction. She said she’s worried about the 400 additional cars that will be using the road in front of her house.
“As a parent of a first grader, I’m really concerned about the traffic going through,” Stephanie said.
The I Lot created this fall for long-term parking has permeable asphalt because Butler sought to alleviate flooding concerns and to make the project as environmentally friendly as possible, said chief of staff Ben Hunter.
Construction workers had to dig seven to eight feet below the surface to build the lot, which brought as many as 80 trucks per hour down Lester Street, Tomey said.
Because of his failure to recognize the entire scope of the project, Tomey said he went door-to-door to apologize for the disruption that the construction had caused.
“When they [Butler] put in the lots, they didn’t give us the full scope of what was happening,” he said.
Hunter said the project received the unanimous approval by the town board, and Butler agreed to resurface Lester Street and 51st Street as part of the agreement. These streets are the only roads by which students will access the parking lot.
In order to assuage residents’ concerns regarding traffic, Butler offered Rocky Ripple the idea of making Lester Street a one-way street, said Rocky Ripple town council president Brad Barcom.
Barcom said he has asked residents to wait before choosing to make Lester a one-way street because he thinks they may regret making a knee-jerk decision that could force them to drive around their entire block to get home.
Stephanie said she had spoken with her neighbors about the one-way option as a tool to cut down traffic.
Lester Street has no sidewalks, which is something Stephanie said she’d like to see changed as someone who just moved into Rocky Ripple.
Barcom said he wanted to preserve Rocky Ripple as one of the only places in Indianapolis where one can play in the street without getting run over by a car.
Barcom and Tomey both said Butler’s plan to monitor students’ entrance and exit patterns to spot “frequent flyers” remains a source of hope that students will not disrupt residents’ lives.
The I Lot opened on Saturday, Hunter said.
Tomey said he wants students to exit the I Lot via 51st Street to reduce the amount of traffic along Lester and because residents are concerned with students’ driving habits.