December 21, 2015
Dear Mayor Ballard and Mayor-Elect Hogsett,
On behalf of the Warfleigh Neighborhood Association (WNA), I am writing to support the Department of Public Works’ selection of the Westfield Blvd. alignment to complete the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project. The completion of this project is essential to ensuring the safety and sustainability of our neighborhood.
For over 15 years, Warfleigh residents have anticipated the completion of this project. Many of our neighbors bought their homes after researching projected completion dates for this project that have been delayed multiple times by previous administrations. While we all knowingly chose to live in a flood zone and understood the associated risks at the time of purchase, we invested in this great neighborhood under the assurance from the city that the project would be completed by now.
As recently as 2012, the projected completion date was set for the fall of 2014. Each year the project is delayed, hundreds of thousands dollars in flood insurance premiums are funneled out of the local economy from the Warfleigh neighborhood alone. Even if the Westfield Blvd alignment construction is started on schedule, residents in the project zone would not realize full protection until late 2018. Cost savings would then follow approximately a year later, once FEMA revises its flood maps.
As a result of the repeated delays, the Warfleigh neighborhood was affected by the nationwide crisis caused by the implementation of the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 (BW-12). In late 2013, homeowners were shocked to learn that the flood insurance premiums they had already been paying were highly subsidized. Due to the NFIP’s $23 billion of debt, Congress and FEMA were forced to begin phasing out these subsidies for all flood insurance policy holders nationwide. Unfortunately, BW-12 left Warfleigh residents facing unaffordable premium hikes and potential homebuyers were fleeing. Our current Vice President Barbara Moser experienced this first hand after moving into Warfleigh in November, 2013. Their home’s previous owner’s flood insurance policy rate of just over $1000 per year ballooned to more than $8,000 for the Mosers under the rules of BW-12. Legislation passed in 2014 provided short-term relief to situations like Barbara’s by slowing the removal of subsidies, but residents in the flood zone will continue to face substantial increases in premiums every year until the wall is completed.
The WNA believes that the Westfield Blvd alignment is the correct path forward for the completion of this project. While it has been determined to be economically unfeasible to include Rocky Ripple in this federally subsidized project, we empathize with our Rocky Ripple neighbors’ concern for flood safety and rising flood insurance premiums. We will continue to call on the City of Indianapolis to determine a realistic alternative for flood protection for our neighbors in Rocky Ripple.
President Warfleigh Neighborhood Association