Fall 2022 Levee and Floodwall Update: Good News!

Hi all!

The Department of Public Works reports the final document required for certification, the Levee Safety Evaluation report and package, has been transmitted from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). There was a United States Postal Service submittal as well as some electronic transmittal of certain documentation. FEMA has acknowledged USACE’s notification that the information was to be delivered. USACE believes the information will arrive in FEMA’s hands this week. Accordingly, at this point, it appears all required documents for accreditation now are either in FEMA’s hands or in the mail on the way.

Whew!!

Jim Polito

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Summer 2022 Levee and Floodwall Update

Hi all,

I just received some clarifying information and updates from the Department of Public Works regarding the levee and floodwall project.

The Corps of Engineers (“USACE”) certifies the design and construction of the levee/floodwall assets to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”). USACE submittal to FEMA generally implies their certification.

FEMA accredits the flood works based on their review of compliance with federal regulations.

The Indianapolis Department of Natural Resources (“IDNR”) reviews the USACE documents to determine compliance with State requirements and informs FEMA of concurrence with the USACE documents.

In most cases the USACE completes a project whole not in pieces like with the Indy North project.

The USACE has submitted all documents for certification to FEMA except for the Levee Safety Evaluation (LSE) report. Those documents have been under review by FEMA since submittal in May.

The LSE is scheduled for an August 19 submittal to FEMA.

IDNR has sent a letter of concurrence FEMA in agreement with the USACE work.

With these documents in FEMA hands, they then can complete their review for accreditation and map revision which has been underway since at least May. This is a FEMA schedule driven by Federal Law and requirements.

There is some indication that FEMA is working to complete major efforts before the end of the year, however, it is unclear, today, how the distribution of effective (revised) maps will be effected. Accordingly, we likely may expect this to occur in the neighborhood of spring 2023.

Thanks, and please let me know if you have any questions.

Jim Polito

Brief Summer 2022 Levee and Floodwall Update

Hi all,

I sought an “out-of-cycle” update because the project should be moving towards certification, and because we all look forward to project accreditation (I usually seek an update every four months).

I didn’t ask for much detail, and didn’t follow-up with any questions, but there does appear to be good news to share:

(1) DPW indicates FEMA has issued a case number and acknowledged LOMR (“Letter of Map Revision”) review.  The 90-day FEMA review period has started and is underway.

You can find more about the FEMA LOMR process here:
https://emilms.fema.gov/IS1120/groups/140.html
 
(2) The utility issue at 67th and Ferguson has been resolved (repaired) with USACE approval.  This is a milestone for levee safety certification by the USACE.
 
(3) The pipe inspections are wrapping up as well.

DPW indicates “these items are all good.”

Hope this helps!

Jim Polito 

June 2022 WNA Updates and Activities

Hi all,

I received an update from the newly elected WNA President regarding some recent activities and initiatives.

Thanks, WNA, for sending this information along. I very much appreciate the new communication channel.

(1) Traffic control updates.

The DPW in a recent meeting (see previous post), advocates for a traffic control measure at the intersection of 64th Street/Arden Drive/Meridian Street.  The WNA supports this control measure and additionally expresses concerns about traffic control south of that intersection, namely the lack of left-turn lanes at 63rd Street and Meridian Street, 62nd Street and Meridian Street, and 61st Street/Laverock and Meridian Street.

(2) Grant proposal for Warfleigh neighborhood signs. The WNA recently submitted to the City a grant proposal seeking $9,375 in funds to place identifying signs throughout the Warfleigh neighborhood. You may see the proposal here, and the logic for such: https://warfleigh.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/neighborhood-grants-program-final-6-6-22.docx.pdf.

You may wish to give the proposal a look and share with the WNA your thoughts, ideas, and concerns (see https://warfleigh.com/ for contact information). Do you support this initiative?  Is this the best use of City/taxpayer funds? Will this help the neighborhood become stronger and united? The neighborhood likely does face future challenges.

Thanks, and, again, appreciate the opportunity to share this information.

Jim Polito

STAKEHOLDER MEETING: Meridian Street Drainage and Traffic Flow Improvements

Hi all, I received the following notice I thought I would share.

Stakeholder Meeting: Meridian Street Drainage Improvements

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

6-7:30 p.m.

Holliday Park Nature Center

6363 Spring Mill Road, Indianapolis, Indiana 46260

Greetings! Join staff from Indy DPW on Tuesday, June 14, from 6-7:30 p.m., to learn about drainage improvements and road rehabilitation planned for Meridian Street from White River to 96th Street in 2023. Indy DPW plans to invest approximately $6.7 million in drainage improvements and structural road rehabilitation on Meridian Street between 64th and 96th Streets. Drainage work will include cleaning culverts along with replacing vulnerable or failed culverts where needed. There will be a short presentation at 6 p.m. followed by an opportunity to ask questions with Indy DPW staff. Stakeholders will be able to share comments and provide written feedback on proposed plans following the presentation. Learn more at: https://www.indy.gov/activity/major-transportation-projects , Street Improvements, Future Projects.  Reach out to Lane.Wolf@indy.gov for a virtual meeting reminder. Additionally, contact Lane for  questions or special accommodations: Lane.Wolf@indy.gov or 317-954-3558.

I also understand  there’s likely there’s to be talk about the potential for a stoplight + infrastructure improvements at Meridian and 64th / Arden Drive at this meeting, too.

Thanks to the WNA for the head’s up!

Jim Polito

Spring 2022 Levee and Floodwall Update

Hi all,

Please find below the most recent levee and floodwall update I was able to obtain from DPW.  The update is a little bit confusing and raises certain questions (also see below).  I’ve reached out to the DPW for clarification, but that might take a little time due to conflicting schedules and events.  I’ll be sure to provide another update as soon as I hear anything else.

Thanks, and please feel free to reach out with any questions.

Jim

DPW Update:

As you are aware the Department has been working with the USACE to address utility inspection needs and associated work as well as an impact to the flood wall created by local utility work.  The utility inspection and follow-up repairs have been approved by the USACE and are moving forward per plan and USACE oversight.  The directed utility restoration effort is approved by the USACE and will be proceeding in the upcoming weeks.  These items are sufficiently addressed at this time.  Necessary work will continue to meet the USACE required outcomes.

The Department was also informed this week that the IDNR Division of Water noted concurrence with the USACE submitted River Hydraulic Model and proposed revisions to the floodplain.  This information in addition to other provided Department information will allow the USACE to make the necessary submittal for certification to the FEMA.  The Department is aware that the USACE project team is in communication with FEMA to make the submittal of the sizable packet of technical information.  I can send a follow-up notice when the documents are noted received by FEMA.

Also, the USACE and Department will be completing the annual inspection of the levee/floodwall system in June 2022.

Clarification Requested:

(1) Most significantly, what now is the estimated timeline for certification and accreditation?

(2) Please describe in more detail the nature of the work required to address utility inspection needs and the expected timeline for completion.

(3) Please describe in more detail the nature of the work required to address the impact of local utility work and the expected timeline for completion.

(4) What does it mean when the DPW says “these items (above) are sufficiently addressed at this time?”

(5) When will USACE submit to FEMA the “sizeable packet of technical information” required for certification?

(6) What major milestones/activities may we expect between certification and accreditation?

A New, Novel Approach to Neighborhood Organization and Representation

Hi all,

As you may know, I’m keenly interested in neighborhood affairs, and the conduct of neighborhood organizations and associations, especially when these neighborhood organizations and associations fail to adequately represent those they claim to serve.

Most neighborhood organizations adopt a hierarchical approach to representation, where there is one set of neighbors that enjoy greater privileges, usually the “directors,” and another set of neighbors that enjoy lesser privileges, usually the “members.”

The distinction sometimes is extreme. In my neighborhood, Warfleigh, directors forbid members from observing or participating in their board meetings and refuse requests to provide copies of meeting agendas and minutes.

Is there a better way forward?  Is there a form of neighborhood organization and representation that allows all neighbors to enjoy the same rights and privileges?

Well, yes!!

I’ve spent a few days reviewing Indiana code and statute and have drafted some bylaws that would create a truly open form of neighborhood association and representation. I provide a link here:

The drafted bylaws apply to the Warfleigh neighborhood, but the geographical region could be expanded, or altered to apply to a different region.

Please be kind, it’s just a first draft.

I do understand the bylaws are long and boring.

But here’s the simple solution: eliminate the distinction between directors and members, eliminate the restriction on the number of directors the association may have, and create a neighborhood association where everyone who wants to may enjoy the same rights and privileges as everyone else.

Here’s the simple way to pull it off (umm, maybe not so simple?!):

(1) An individual incorporates.

(2) The incorporator holds an organizational meeting initially with a limited set of directors to establish foundation and infrastructure.

(3) The initial set of directors divide themselves into two groups, one with greater terms of service and one with lesser terms of service.

(4) The organization solicits nominees for director positions prior to the end of the terms of service of directors with lesser terms.

(5) If the interest in director’s positions exceeds the number of expiring terms, then the number of directors permitted under the organization’s bylaws expands.

(6) Then, at the time of elections, directors elect to the board every individual interested in becoming a director and serving the neighborhood and their approval shall not be unreasonably withheld.

And what results?

A truly open and democratic neighborhood organization where anyone and everyone who is interested in serving the neighborhood may enjoy the same rights and privileges as everyone else.

Could this approach fail? Certainly!!

Would there be any harm in trying? No!!

Who’s in??!!

(I wonder what I might have missed, or what flaws there may be in an approach such as this. Very interested in any insights, reflections, and comments.)

And, yes, I know, I appear to have too much time on my hands!

Jim Polito

WNA Board Meeting to Elect Officers

Hi all.

The WNA will hold a Board Meeting or Meeting of Directors April 12th (see warfleigh.com). The WNA will elect officers at this meeting (bylaws, Section 4.07.E). The WNA will not permit the neighborhood or voting members to either observe or participate in this meeting. Additionally, the WNA will neither provide meeting minutes nor an agenda for this meeting.

Go, neighborhood democracy!!

Jim Polito

I Failed as a WNA Director – Or is the WNA Failing?

Hi all,

As you may know, I’ve attempted to help serve the neighborhood since 2012 when changes in federal legislation caused precipitous increases in flood insurance premiums. At the same time, the local levee and floodwall project designed to bring relief stalled and all progress ceased as every midtown neighborhood organization (e.g., BTNA, MKNA, BRVA, Midtown Indianapolis) forcefully lobbied to terminate the project. Additionally, at the same time, the association “representing” the Warfleigh neighborhood, the Warfleigh Neighborhood Association (WNA), rejected pleas by its voting members (including me!) to advocate on their behalf in support of the levee and floodwall project (in fact, the only official WNA efforts related to the project was to join others such as the Friends of the White River seeking to delay the project over environmental concerns).

In response, the grassroots “Save Warfleigh” and “Finish the Floodwall” organizations emerged (this website is an artifact of that movement).  Together we held demonstrations, petition drives, signage events, social media outreach and, eventually, gained the support of city, state, and federal elected representatives. The project now moves towards completion!! Ummm … at glacial speed!

Since then, I’ve been wary of neighborhood organizations that claim to represent the interests of their voting members but fail to do so – especially in an open and transparent manner. Unfortunately, this unease and wariness extends to the WNA which frequently meets in closed sessions of directors, denying neighbors and voting members access to the WNA’s deliberative process, and, at the same time, failing to provide the neighborhood and voting members with any record of such meetings, including minutes and agendas.

WNA transparency issues are not new, and over the years I worked tirelessly as a voting member trying to help improve WNA practices and policies. I made only little progress. Accordingly, I joined the WNA as a Director in October 2021.

Unfortunately, I’ve failed again.

The WNA has rejected every transparency enhancing recommendation I’ve provided, and leadership does not hesitate to remind me of such.

Alas! I’ve resigned (additional reasons included financial management practices).

You’ll find below the last report I submitted as the chair (and only member!!) of the WNA’s “governance committee,” as well as my letter of resignation. I’ve slightly reordered items in the governance committee report to include an upfront summary.  While I’m extremely heartened by new WNA member and volunteer activity and wish the WNA success, I’m also extremely disheartened by the continued inability or unwillingness of entrenched WNA officers to lead the organization in an open and transparent manner. The WNA is the only local neighborhood organization whose directors meet privately, without observation by voting members, and without providing voting members with timely minutes and agendas of such meetings.

Please know I will continue to independently serve the neighborhood as I’ve done in the past!

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Governance Committee Report

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February 8, 2022

WNA Meeting of Directors

Committee Report: Governance Committee

The Warfleigh Neighborhood Association (“WNA”) Governance Committee has duly met and provides this update and these observations and suggestions based upon its continued observation of and participation in the WNA.  As per previous reports, the WNA Governance Committee only seeks with its report and recommendations to increase the efficiency and integrity of WNA conduct and operations.

1. The Governance Committee adopts as its goal statement the following:

The goal of the WNA Governance Committee is to help ensure the WNA is an open, honest, transparent, inclusive, representative, and democratic neighborhood organization.

2. (reordered). The WNA Governance Committee repeats previous recommendations WNA directors by vote have failed to support:

(a) The WNA must reject its “autocratic” leadership approach in which it grants solely to one WNA director and solely to one WNA voting member exclusive access to some WNA information (e.g., results of WNA elections). This does nothing except to marginalize both WNA directors and voting members and helps establish the WNA as a closed, exclusive organization with privileges for some, but not all.

(b) The WNA must open its Meeting of Directors to observation by voting members. Absent such, the WNA at a minimum should post Meeting of Directors agendas and minutes.

3. (reordered). In summary, the WNA Governance Committee recommends the WNA modify its leadership practices to include the following:

a. Fully and immediately responding to all voting member requests for information regardless of what the WNA might believe the intent of such requests.

b. Advance planning for all WNA meetings that includes providing voting members and directors with meeting notices and agendas at least one week in advance of any meeting.

c. Providing voting members with visibility into WNA Meetings of Directors.

d. Providing voting members with Meeting of Directors minutes.

e. Provide voting members with Meeting of Directors agenda.

f. Establish a central document repository.

g. Establish strong document control procedures.

h. Establish a WNA website from which voting members may securely download documents.

i. Abandon any notion of excluding neighborhood participation in neighborhood leadership and stewardship by privately meeting as directors in contradiction of WNA bylaws to determine who may or may not serve as a WNA director.

4. The Governance Committee believes effective governance requires effective meetings which requires effective planning. At the same time, the Governance Committee notes leadership of the WNA often adopts a “just-in-time” planning approach to planning meetings, especially as it pertains to Meetings of Directors. For example, WNA leadership practices include providing on the day of, or on a day in advance, WNA Director’s meeting agendas. This precludes appropriate planning and research by WNA directors which precludes effective meeting which impairs effective governance. The WNA Governance Committee recommends WNA leadership adopt a more robust approach to meetings and governance and recommends, for example, WNA leadership provide agendas for Meetings of Directors at least one week in advance of such meetings so directors may appropriately prepare. This has further advantage. Namely, the WNA may then through its website share with voting members Meeting of Directors agendas. This enhances openness, transparency, and inclusiveness.

5. The Governance Committee believes effective governance requires strong document control procedures which includes both: (a) establishing a central document repository, and (b) adopting strong document change control procedures. The Governance Committee finds distressing that after years of operation the WNA has failed to do either. This leads to troublesome consequences. For example, the WNA, in contradiction of its bylaws, recently held an election in which it sought to re-elect all WNA directors rather than either “Class A” or “Class B” directors as required by bylaws. This emerged as the WNA did not have a central document repository and could not locate records establishing a list of directors and the classes of service in which they reside.

(a) The Governance Committee has as an example established a common “Google” drive that could serve as a central repository for all pertinent WNA documents. This could include, without limitation, meeting notices, minutes, and agendas; WNA bylaws; records of director’s terms of service and records of director’s membership in either the Class A or Class B of directors; neighborhood maps and block steward responsibilities; list of committees and list of committee members … The drive currently includes various folders: Minutes, Notices, Agendas, Bylaws, and Administrative. Access to this drive has been shared with four WNA directors.

(b) The WNA Governance Committee additionally provides as an example the link below which shows the relative ease with which WNA documents can be shared with and accessed by voting members using the drive established above: (LINK TO BYLAWS DELETED)

 The WNA governance committee notes the WNA could choose to limit access to documents on the shared drive to either WNA directors, WNA Voting Members, or all depending on sharing parameters selected.

(c) The Governance Committee of the WNA recommends all pertinent WNA documents include change control procedures such as that provided in the example below to help ensure the integrity of WNA documents.

WNA Bylaws:

VersionDateChange
Version 2.0February 2022Modifies bylaws to allow both odd and even number of directors. Adds provisions to allow reconciliation of tied votes.

6.  The Governance Committee notes that at least three WNA directors now have expressed an interest in limiting those who can serve as WNA directors to a slate of directors “approved” by the WNA through a “vetting” process. WNA directors in support of this perspective note the Butler Tarkington Neighborhood Association (“BTNA”) adopts such an approach.  The WNA Governance Committee strongly recommends against adopting such an approach and notes the following:

(a) WNA bylaws do not permit such an approach,

(b) Unlike the WNA, BTNA directors do not meet privately, without observation by voting members, without sharing agendas, and without posting minutes. Accordingly, the BTNA is not an appropriate comparison group.

(c) Such an approach and such a practice are clearly not consistent with a neighborhood organization that seeks to be open, honest, transparent, inclusive, representative, and democratic.

(d) The WNA risks a potential public relations “nightmare” if it pursues such an approach. Social media headlines may read, for example, “WNA directors decide to meet privately without minutes or agendas to determine who may or may not join them to serve the neighborhood.”

7. Effective governance requires a fully functional website safely accessible by all, especially as it pertains to document downloads including minutes, notices, and agendas. The WNA website in this regard is not fully operational (see below). The Governance Committee recommends the WNA modify its website so that voting members may feel secure when downloading WNA documents. Generally, the WNA should seek to develop a website that it can maintain and update.

Respectfully submitted,

James A. Polito

Chair, WNA Governance Committee

______________________

Letter of Resignation

______________________

WNA Officers,

Thank-you and the WNA for accepting this note of resignation effective upon transmittal.

Proximate concerns include those related to the financial management of donor funds.

The WNA indicated in its last two Meetings of Directors it holds dedicated funds of donors for which it has no plan of using in the near future, for which it provides neither reporting nor accounting as required by WNA bylaws, and for which the continued holding of such by the WNA has been questioned by donors.

I also understand these funds were held during the time the WNA had no elected directors and, accordingly, should not have claimed to exist.

I hope you can understand why I view this as a potential liability and one I do not wish to face in service to my neighborhood.

For this reason, among others previously shared (e.g., misaligned goals) I tender my resignation.

Thank-you for providing me with the opportunity to serve the neighborhood, and please reach out with any questions or concerns.

 Jim Polito

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The END!!

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