Elberfeld residents left with property damage from broadband internet project

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ELBERFELD, Ind. (WEHT) – Some residents in Elberfeld are upset after a project to install high-speed internet left damage to their property.

“Here in Elberfeld we do take pride in the way our houses do look and try to keep up the best we can with them. Here it’s kind of hard to keep up with a lawn where guys just come in and do what they want, leave ruts, water holes and everything else,” said McCormick Farney of Elberfeld.

Farney and many other residents have been discussing their anger with Mainstream Fiber Networks in the Elberfeld Community Facebook group. He says the company is installing above-ground poles and wires south of the town line, but that they are inconveniently placed. Many say they are too close to their houses.

“They were trying to set a pole in the middle of the 40-foot entrance to my field directly in the middle making it where I am not able to get in the field. We talked to them several times about moving the poles. They said they’d take care of it but they kept trying to put it in the same spot, cutting access to my farm,” Farney said.

One man said “they hit our sewer pipe in the easement for a house of ours. They did immediately send a plumbing team, however, now I have to pay the over $2,000 bill while they fight with the [Town] of Elberfeld over who gets to reimburse me. The lady I’ve dealt with has been extremely nice, but I am worried now how long it will take me to be reimbursed for their mistake. I never signed up for their service. They were just drilling all down the road in the easement area.”

An Elberfeld Town Board member told Eyewitness News since this broadband project is that of a private utility and not a town project, Mainstream would be responsible for any damages to private sewers. Since the town is not responsible for damages to private sewers, those responsibilities fall on property owners. The town’s responsibilities start when the private sewer attaches to the municipal sewer system.

Another Elberfeld resident said Mainstream isn’t stepping up and taking responsibility for the damages. When his sewer was damaged while Mainstream crews were boring for lines, after contacting Mainstream and the drilling crew, they both said they were not responsible for the damages. Fixing his sewer cost him nearly $2,400 out of pocket.

Farney said at the Warrick County Commission meeting, commissioners placed a stop order on the project after hearing these concerns and learning that Mainstream was not following permits by where they were placing the poles.

“We’re just trying to make sure that Mainstream puts poles in under permit, which that’s all we can ask if they’re legal to do it they can do whatever under law,” Farney said.

We reached out to Mainstream Fiber Networks. Spokesperson Emily Wilson said:

Mainstream Fiber Networks has been hard at work in Elberfeld and across Warrick County to build out infrastructure to provide high-quality, affordable and reliable fiber optic internet to the community. Throughout construction, it is sometimes required to install new poles for fiber lines. This work is permitted and is always conducted in an easement or right of way per IURC and Indiana code.

Recently, a stop work order was issued for work being done in one area of Elberfeld due to some concerns from property owners. Mainstream immediately complied with the county’s order. While it is our hope to bring high-speed internet to as many residents as possible, we understand that not all homeowners want this infrastructure and will consider feedback to no longer service the specific area. As an Indiana company committed to serving Hoosiers, we are proud to be laying the groundwork for future proof connectivity in Warrick County and look forward to continuing progress in the community.

Although Mainstream has stopped the project, many residents are still upset with the state of their properties.

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