News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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December 29, 2013

2013: A Year in Review: Laying new ground

City spent the year removing contaminated soil at decades-vacant site of Coke and Carbon plant, revamping landscape of Terre Haute

TERRE HAUTE — Money remained tight for the City of Terre Haute in 2013, especially after property values dropped in Vigo County by a whopping 7.5 percent after a reassessment. Mayor Duke Bennett’s hopes to eliminate the need for a $5 million temporary loan for the general fund went out the window with the lower assessment, which cost the city budget about $2 million. City officials still approved a 2.5-percent raise for nearly all city employees in 2014.

n After sitting vacant and overgrown in the middle of the city for decades, the former Terre Haute Coke and Carbon site got cleaned up in 2013. The city was able to get a lower interest rate on a sanitary district bond in return for using some of the money to clean up the site, which was an industrial coke plant until the 1980s. HIS Constructors of Indianapolis won a $2.7 million contract to clean up 20 acres of the property. Another 20 acres remains in need of a facelift.

• The city took possession of 39 acres of wooded and overgrown land along the Wabash River only to discover in early 2013 it was contaminated, at the very least, with lead. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted testing and found high levels of lead in the soil. The city wants to build a sanitary sewer facility on the site and also build a hiking/biking trail – but both must wait until the EPA gives a green light.

• The Terre Haute Housing Authority announced it will be closing Deming Center, a downtown low-income housing facility, at the end of 2014. Tenants from the 109-unit building will have the option of moving to Warren Village, a new Housing Authority facility being constructed on North 25th Street in the former Warren Elementary School. Tenants will be offered Warren Village units at the same rental rates as Deming Center, a former downtown hotel constructed around 1914.

• The city’s board of sanitary commissioners finally settled – for $500,000 – a long-standing lawsuit with Atlas Excavating, a West Lafayette-based contractor. Atlas claimed the city failed to do proper testing, which led the company to lose expensive equipment during a sewer project south of the city. The sanitary board did nothing wrong, according to its attorney, but the settlement avoided a long and costly trial.

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