December 21, 2014

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Lorain OKs settlement in 2005 Martin’s Run flood

LORAIN — When Martin’s Run Creek overflowed in a Dec. 17, 2005, flood, Windsor Court resident Calvin Jeter recalled carrying his wife, Zora Jeter, through waist-high water to safety.

Jeter said the flooding of his home destroyed carpeting, two furnaces, a washer and dryer and a water heater. Jeter said he was never warned about flooding problems when he moved into the neighborhood in 2000 and sued city officials for not doing better flood prevention.

“It didn’t seem right,” Jeter said by phone Tuesday after City Council members approved a $650,000 settlement with Jeter and two neighbors in the 3900 block of Windsor Court, whose homes were also flooded. “Some infrastructure work definitely needed to be done as far as maintaining the creek.”

The Jeters, as well as homeowners Gary and Gwendolyn Howell and Donna Prevac and Deniseann Stempowski will divide the settlement, and Lorain will buy and raze the homes, according to Law Director Pat Riley. The plaintiffs had sought $3.3 million. Insurance will pay $185,000 of the settlement with the remainder paid for with Utility Department fees.

Jeter’s backyard is about 25 yards from the west side creek, which runs south of Tower Boulevard along state Route 2 and drains into Lake Erie. City Engineer Dale Vandersommen said last month that about 3 feet of sediment and silt has built up in the 12-foot by 6-foot culvert since it was constructed in 1995 to reduce flooding. Vandersommen said city officials wanted to make the culvert deeper and wider when it was built but couldn’t afford it.

The creek will be dredged next year becauseCouncil members approved a $2 per month sewer rate increase last month. The hike will raise $528,000 annually to help pay for the dredging. A 2006 study estimated the project cost at about $1.9 million.

Councilman Dan Given, D-at large, lived in the neighborhood when the flooding occurred. He said it was so bad that the Fire Department had to use a raft to rescue some residents.

“These people have had a long, hard battle,” he said. “We’re just doing the right thing.”

In other business

Council members approved the demolition of 14 blighted houses next month by Burton-based Cherokee Demolition for $153,222 in federal taxpayer money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Councilman Brian Gates, D-1st, asked Riley to give a legal opinion on why the demolitions aren’t subject to a Project Labor Agreement approved in 2011.

The agreement mandates that 75 percent of workers on city projects of $100,000 or more be county residents with Lorain residents given first preference. Rey Carrion, acting Community and Economic Development Department director, said HUD rules say demolitions aren’t subject to the agreement or prevailing wage agreements unless they are in conjunction with construction.

Council members approved continuing to use Medical Mutual of Ohio as Lorain’s health care provider for its 444 employees. Annual administrative cost payments to Medical Mutual dropped from $508,000 in 2011 to $489,000 last year, according to Geoff Smith, human resources-risk management director. Mayor Chase Ritenauer said a proposal by Cigna that projected $1 million in savings was because of “artificially low” estimated costs.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.