Council told money spent on water handling capabilities was good

The millions spent upgrading the city's water handling capabilities paid off during the late April-early May storms that drenched Huntington.

“The system worked as it should have,” Anthony Goodnight, director of public works and engineering services, told members of the Huntington Common Council during their meeting on Tuesday, May 9.

The addition and repair of lift stations, pumps and a 2.25-million-gallon holding tank kept the week of rain — including a record-setting 2.3 inches on May 4 — from inundating many previously flood-prone areas on the south side of the city.

“I received one phone call the entire week about a drainage problem, and that's one we're working on,” Goodnight said.

Removal of a dam on the Little River at South Jefferson Street reduced flooding on properties along State Street, noted Bryn Keplinger, director of community development and redevelopment, but the effects went beyond that.

Without the dam, Keplinger said, “The water along the Little River rises and falls much quicker.”

Water from the Little River meets up with water from Roush Lake at the forks and flows on down as the Wabash River. Because of that the output from the dam can have an impact on the Little River here in town, Keplinger said.

Keplinger said measurements are now being taken along the Little River to establish new norms, information that will assist in formulating Huntington County's Flood Response and Evacuation Plan as well as the basis for flood warnings issued by the National Weather Service.

Another project that will also improve drainage, the reconstruction of Etna Avenue, will have an official groundbreaking on May 24, Goodnight said.

Keplinger updated the council on a $350,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant the city received in 2015 to help pay for environmental assessments of potential brownfield sites with a goal of encouraging development of those properties. New sites are no longer being accepted into the program, he said, because much of the money has already been spent.

That's a good thing, Keplinger said.

“That means that money is out there doing work,” he said.

The EPA will be at the former H.K. Porter plant on Sabine Street sometime in the next few months to perform abatement measures and additional testing, Keplinger said. Asbestos was used in the plant's production lines, prompting the abatement work. The property is currently owned by the city's Redevelopment Commission, which will be responsible for demolishing what's left of the property once the EPA has completed work at the site.

In other business, council officially approved an additional appropriation of $30,000 to rent a crusher and an excavator to convert discarded concrete into stone that can be used to build roads at the Huntington Landfill. The council had given an unofficial OK to the expenditure at a previous meeting.

Council also received reports from Gerdau, Midwest Industrial metal Fabrication, Clark's Recycling and Huntington Sheet Metal certifying their compliance with terms of tax abatements they have received.