News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 2, 2013

Legal complaint against city’s sanitary district dropped

Action could have significantly delayed work on Hulman Dam project

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A Terre Haute property owner has dropped a legal complaint that could have jeopardized a costly city flood control project.

On Monday morning, an attorney representing C. Long LLC filed a motion to dismiss a complaint against the city’s sanitary district that could have significantly delayed work on the Hulman Dam, which is part of Hulman Lake. The lake is on Hulman Street between Fruitridge Avenue and Indiana 46/U.S. 40.

Joseph A. Cloutier is the sole member of C. Long, according to court documents filed in the case. C. Long owns property along Hulman Lake.

Kelvin Roots, a Terre Haute attorney representing C. Long, told Senior Judge Dexter Bolin Monday that his client has, “in good faith,” chosen to dismiss the complaint, which will allow work on the dam to move forward. Federal funding for the project would have been in jeopardy if the project were delayed much longer, Roots said.

“We don’t want to hold up the construction” or the funding, Roots told the judge.

Terry Modesitt, attorney for the sanitary district, agreed federal funding could have been lost if the project were delayed much longer. “It was cutting it close,” Modesitt said, adding that construction can now probably begin next week.

The cost of raising the dam is estimated at about $800,000. The federal government, through a state-administered Community Development Block Grant, is covering $750,000. The sanitary district will cover the rest.

The legal complaint stemmed from concern that the dam project would damage C. Long property, which is near the dam. Roots proposed an amended easement Monday for review by the sanitary district board of directors, who are scheduled to meet today in City Hall.

Still pending are other complaints filed by C. Long against the sanitary district concerning alleged property damage caused by the lake rising beyond its easement area. Bolin continued that portion of the lawsuit to an unspecified future date.

Hulman Dam is to be raised approximately five feet to meet new state requirements for any dam whose breach would result in significant damage to homes or infrastructure. A 2011 study of the Hulman Dam by Banning Engineering, a Plainfield-based company, determined a breach of the dam would affect thousands of Terre Haute homes to the west of Hulman Lake.

S & G Excavating, a Wabash Valley company, won the contract to raise the dam.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is now requiring dams such as Hulman Dam to withstand a massive rain known as a “probable maximum precipitation” (PMP) event. Such an event would mean 26 inches of rain in just six hours in this area. That’s approximately twice as much rain in six hours as the Terre Haute area received in 24 hours during the flood of June 2008.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@