2017 Project Updates

Source: http://www.indy.gov/eGov/City/DPW/RebuildIndy/Projects/Pages/IndianapolisNorthLeveeProject.aspx

Phase 3A and 3C – Vegetation Management

This project was awarded to a contractor in January 2017. Vegetation clearing is expected to begin in late February 2017, lasting approximately two weeks. Grading and staking activities are expected for May or June as scheduling allows. Canoe access point improvements will complete this portion of the project. All work is expected to be complete by late summer 2017.  Click herefor a copy of the notification sent to residents near the project area.

Phase 3B2 – Riviera Club Earthen Levee:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded the project to the contractor. Work will begin in February 2017, starting with limited vegetation clearing. Riviera Club representatives are regularly involved in the coordination meetings related to constructing this phase of the levee. Construction is expected to be complete in 2018.

Phase 3B3 – Westfield Boulevard:

View the fact sheet here. In February 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The Indiana State Historic Preservation Officer and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation  signed a Memorandum of Agreement to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The MOA has informed the design of Phase 3B3, recognizing that it will affect both Holcomb Gardens and the Indianapolis Central Canal, both of which are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The MOA specifies how the project will minimize or mitigate its effect on the historic area. Construction of the project will avoid or minimize the destruction of mature trees along the project, and grasses will be planted on both sides of the floodwall following its construction. Pedestrian connectivity and accessibility will be maintained along the levee by the construction of both a series of pedestrian openings along the length of the wall; and a multi-use path, constructed along Westfield Boulevard between Butler University’s Holcomb Gardens and the pedestrian bridge on Illinois Street. The visual impact of the northernmost portion of the floodwall will be minimized through reducing the height of the wall, either by the use of temporary panels that could be installed during flood events, or by a passive floodwall system which could be stowed underground. The floodwall will also display a pattern and color scheme appropriate to the surrounding natural environment, so as to limit its visual impact.

Continued Coordination with the Town of Rocky Ripple:

In February 2017, the City of Indianapolis announced that it would commit up to $10M over 5 years to local flood damage reduction opportunities, specifically for the protection of the Town of Rocky Ripple and Butler University. This project would be separate from, but in coordination with the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project. The City hopes that this local funding might be used to leverage state funding opportunities for a local flood damage reduction project.

AECOM Phase 3B-3 Alignment Study: Rocky Ripple Area

In February 2017, the City of Indianapolis published a study prepared by AECOM regarding the technical basis for the selection of the Westfield Boulevard alignment for Phase 3B-3. The study includes an assessment of the range of options related to flood protection for the Town of Rocky Ripple.  The study is available here.

Plus some 2016 Project updates …

Phase 3A and 3C – Vegetation Management

In August 2016, an agreement was reached between the City of Indianapolis DPW, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Friends of the White River defining the conditions of a permit allowing vegetation management activities to be carried out in Phases 3A and 3C. Improvements will allow access for maintenance and inspection, prevent animals and plants from destabilizing the levee foundation. The project will include some tree and root clearing, the regrading of the levee slope, the removal of asphalt rubble and the placement of limestone riprap where erosion might otherwise occur. This work is required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to certify the project, allowing FEMA to accredit the entire Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction project. In addition, improvements are planned for the canoe access point west of the Monon pedestrian bridge, and new canoe access point is planned just south of Kessler Boulevard.

Phase 3B2 Riviera Club Earthen Levee:

In January 2016, the City made a property acquisition offer to the Riviera Club for the land required to construct Phase 3B2. An offer was formally accepted in June of 2016, and the US Army Corps of Engineers opened the project to contractor bids in September 2016. Work will begin in 2017.

Phase 3B3 – Westfield Boulevard

With the Westfield Boulevard alignment officially selected for this section of the levee, design conversations included elements required by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers identified, informed and invited local stakeholders to participate in the discussion and formulation of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to mitigate the visual and physical impacts of the proposed Phase 3B3 alignment.  The effort culminated in a draft MOA in November 2016.

Continued Coordination with the Town of Rocky Ripple:

In March 2016, the City met with the Town of Rocky Ripple Board members to further discuss local flood damage reduction opportunities. The conversation continued through the summer of 2016 as a Memorandum of Agreement was drafted to further define how the City and Town might accomplish their mutual goals. In late August, the MOA was signed by representatives of Indy DPW and the Town of Rocky Ripple, solidifying a relationship of continued coordination on matters related to water quality, flood protection, erosion control and stormwater management. The City and Town agreed to coordinate on public outreach; planning improvements; obtaining easements, permits and rights of entry; and the completion of activities as a part of the Marion County Stormwater Management District. In the fall of 2016, with the approval of the Town of Rocky Ripple, the City began limited vegetation management work on the public land on the east bank of the West Fork of the White River. The City worked to clear hazardous brush and other vegetation determined to be threatening to the stability of the east river bank. The City looks to continue this and other Town-coordinated activities in 2017.

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Special Flood Plain Tax Districts – A Problem and Alternative

Author: Jim Polito

Certain Indianapolis North residents lie in a flood plain, including citizens in Broad Ripple, Warfleigh, South Warfleigh, North Butler-Tarkington and Rocky Ripple. The Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project (“Project”) confers extensive benefits and seeks to provide protection for some, but not all, flood plain residents (see note 1, below). Namely, the Project currently excludes Rocky Ripple largely because of the availability of funding and the costs of Rocky Ripple flood protection. That is, while the Project provides flood protection to “upstream residents” excluding Rocky Ripple at a cost of approximately $8,000 per structure protected, expanding the Project to include Rocky Ripple would come at a cost of approximately $100,000 per Rocky Ripple structure protected (roughly $30,000,000 in additional costs). These Rocky Ripple costs relative to structures protected preclude federal participation and funding for a Rocky Ripple project extension, and the City does not now have available the required funds. Accordingly, the City works to act now to protect those it can now, completing the current phase of the Project using the “Westfield Boulevard Alternative,” while continuing to explore options to protect others (Rocky Ripple) at a later date (see notes 2 and 3).

Various individuals and organizations propose creating “special flood plain tax districts” as a solution to this and similar problems. These individuals and organizations include Indiana Representative Ed DeLaney (D-86), who recently introduced legislation to accomplish such, HB 1549 (see note 4), and the “Build the Wall for All” organization (see note 5). Under these proposals, special tax districts would be created which could borrow the funds needed to cover flood plain project costs by issuing a bond, and the bond would be repaid by an assessment on all properties benefiting from the flood wall. Imposing costs and assessments based on benefit received sometimes is referred to as the principal of cost causation.

Unfortunately, special tax district proposals do not work in the case of Rocky Ripple – again, largely because of the cost of Rocky Ripple flood protection.

The cost of the current phase of the Project which protects approximately 2,500 homes/structures in Broad Ripple, Warfleigh, South Warfleigh and North Butler-Tarkington is approximately $20,000,000 (with the federal government picking up a share). That’s about $8,000 per home. The cost of the Project would rise by approximately $30,000,000 to a total of $50,000,000 if Rocky Ripple were included in the Project. In other words, expanding the Project to provide Rocky Ripple flood protection comes at a cost of approximately $100,000 per Rocky Ripple structure ($30,000,000 in additional costs divided by the approximately 300 additional structures protected).

If you assign costs according to the principle of cost causation upon which the creation of special tax districts rests, then you would create a special tax district that approximately assigns $100,000 per structure to each Rocky Ripple structure, and $8,000 per structure to each upstream structure.

That would collect the required $50,000,000 in Project costs ($50,000,000 = $100,000 x 300 homes + $8000 x 2,500 homes = $30,000,000 + $20,000,000 = $50,000,000).

Is this a practically realizable outcome? Assign a $100,000 special tax assessment and surcharge upon each Rocky Ripple structure? No. More likely, taxing authorities would seek to create a larger special tax district to spread costs over a larger base. Who to include? Upstream flood plain residents? Why? They can be protected for $20,000,000 or $8,000 per structure and don’t benefit at all from the additional $30,000,000 in Rocky Ripple costs. Lower costs even more on a per structure basis and expand the special tax district to include Rocky Ripple, upstream residents, Meridian-Kessler, east and south Broad Ripple residents? Why not? If you assign additional costs to upstream residents who derive no benefit from the additional cost, then why not assign these additional costs to other individuals who don’t derive additional benefit? And why stop there? Where do we draw the arbitrary line of demarcation for Project benefit (and special tax district)? Why not assess Indianapolis at large? A reasonable argument could be made that everyone in a community benefits in some way by a community benefit and public works project such as flood plain protection

AND SO … a better approach for funding Rocky Ripple flood protection, which doesn’t impose a $100,000 surcharge on each Rocky Ripple structure, would be to develop a funding stream for future Rocky Ripple projects that assigns costs over as large a base as possible. The benefit of this approach is that it: (a) would provide funding for future Rocky Ripple projects, (b) doesn’t create an arbitrary and indefensible line of demarcation between those who do and don’t benefit from flood plain projects, and (c) minimizes assessment per structure.

Neither Representative DeLaney’s HB1549 special tax district proposal nor the Build A Wall for All proposal achieves this goal. Other pending legislation, for example, HB1440 (see note 6) in part achieves this goal by developing a Rocky Ripple funding stream that relies on Lottery and other revenues – though the assessment still fails to be as broadly based as it could be.

Jim Polito

Notes:

(1) Completing the current phase of the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project provides extensive benefit:

– A recent engineering study shows over five feet of floodwater would surround a representative flood plain home in the event of a significant flood event.

– Recent legislation (“Biggert-Waters Act”) and changes in the national federal flood insurance program cause annual flood insurance premiums to rise to the range of $8,000 to $10,000 per year.

– Current levels of annual flood insurance premiums drain roughly $10 million dollars per year of purchasing power from the local economy (=2,750 structures x $3,600 annual premium = $9.9 million). This number will only increase over time.

– Current levels of annual flood insurance premiums depress area property values by roughly $173 million ($300/month premium = $63,000 mortgage (at 4%) x 2,750 structures). This number will only increase over time.

(2) For detailed Project history and information see: http://finishthefloodwall.org . For Westfield Boulevard Alternative diagram see: https://savewarfleigh.files.wordpress.co… .

(3) Those interested in the City’s continuing attempts to develop viable Rocky Ripple flood protection alternatives should see the City’s recent report (December 2016) exploring alternatives and options: https://savewarfleigh.files.wordpress.co…… .

(4) HB1549: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bill… .

(5) Build the Wall for All: http://www.buildthewallforall.org/ . Interestingly, the leadership of the Build the Wall for All organization that now advocates for Project delay to provide Rocky Ripple flood protection previously advocated for Project delay to study the “West Bank Alignment” which would not have provided any Rocky Ripple flood protection.

(6) HB1440: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bill… .

DeLaney Legislation Threatens Floodwall Project

Author: Jim Polito

An update on some consequential news affecting midtown Indianapolis and the levee and floodwall project …

The Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project (“Project”) is a 20-year, 3-mile levee and floodwall project designed to provide flood risk management for the communities of Broad Ripple, Warfleigh, South Warfleigh and North Butler-Tarkington.  Remaining construction tasks are fully funded and shovel ready with federal sources providing 75% of project funds.

Completing the Project provides extensive benefit:

–  A recent engineering study shows over five feet of floodwater would surround a representative flood plain home in the event of a significant flood event.

– Recent legislation (“Biggert-Waters Act”) and changes in the national federal flood insurance program cause annual flood insurance premiums to rise to the range of $8,000 to $10,000 per year.

– Current levels of annual flood insurance premiums drain roughly $10 million dollars per year of purchasing power from the local economy (=2,750 structures x $3,600 annual premium = $9.9 million). This number will only increase over time.

– Current levels of annual flood insurance premiums depress area property values by roughly $173 million ($300/month premium = $63,000 mortgage (at 4%) x 2,750 structures). This number will only increase over time.

The Project enjoys widespread support throughout the community including city and federal officials; the approximately 5,000 to 6,000 women, children and men for whom the project will provide flood protection (2,500 – 3,000 business and homes); and over 1,000 signatories of an on-line petition urging expeditious project completion (see http://www.finishthefloodwall.org).

NEVERTHELESS, despite these obvious benefits, various individuals and organizations continue their efforts to oppose, delay and stop the Project entirely.

UNFORTUNATELY, Indianapolis State Representative Ed DeLaney (D-86) recently introduced legislation, HB1549 (see https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bills/house/1549 ) that similarly could delay or stop the Project and/or impose considerable additional costs upon flood plain residents.

Specifically, DeLaney’s legislation could:

– Allow Washington Township to assert control over the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project and introduce indeterminable delay, and

– Impose upon Warfleigh and other flood plain residents tens of millions of dollars of additional costs (via a special flood plain assessment), when the project is already shovel ready and fully funded.

Representative DeLaney confirms these possible consequences of his bill. Specifically, Representative DeLaney responded as follows to my e-mail asking “could you please advise if I incorrectly interpret the possible consequences of your bill?”:

The timeline [under which Washington Township might assert control over the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project] is out of my control. I have no role on that. I am focused on giving our local officials options. Ed DeLaney.

Obviously, Representative DeLaney does have control over the harm his legislation could impose upon his constituents as he both introduced the proposed legislation and specifically included language (Section 27) that would allow a township to exert control over a project already in progress.

Representative Ed DeLaney should explain why he introduced legislation that knowingly could harm his constituents.  Representative DeLaney should explain why he introduced legislation that could delay the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project.  Representative DeLaney should explain why his bill is necessary now. Representative DeLaney should explain with whom he discussed his bill and upon whose guidance he relied when drafting the bill.

What you can do …

(1) Contact Representative Ed DeLaney by phone, email and through social media platforms.  Ask Representative DeLaney to answer the questions above. Remind Representative DeLaney 2018 midterm elections are not far away and that you will directly attribute to him any delay in the levee and floodwall project.

Telephone:
800-382-9842 (ask for his office)

E-mail:
ed@eddelaney.org
staff@eddelaney.org
http://indianahousedemocrats.org/contact-ed-delaney/

Twitter:
@eddelaney86
@delaneyforindy

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/delaneyforindy/

(2) Contact the Chair of the Indiana House Committee on Government and Regulatory Reform.  Educate him on the benefits of the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project (see above). Tell him you oppose any legislation that imposes harm upon Indiana floodplain residents. Ask him to either (a) fail to act on the bill, or (b) amend the bill to exclude the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project.

Representative Kevin Mahan (R-31)

Telephone:  800-382-9841 (ask for his office)

E-mail:
h31@iga.in.gov
http://www.indianahouserepublicans.com/forms/contact-your-representative/?formField_Representative=Rep.%20Kevin%20Mahan%20%28HD%2031%29

(3) Contact your U.S. Congressional Representative (Susan Brooks) and City-Councilor Colleen Fanning. Remind them the hardship and burden we now experience results from both action and inaction at the local and federal level.  Ask them to intervene on your behalf.  Ask them to contact the Republican Chair of the Indiana House Committee on Government and Regulatory Reform and educate him on the benefits of the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project. Urge them to request he either: (a) fail to act on the bill, or (b) amend the bill to exclude the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project.

Congresswoman Susan Brooks (through District Director Karen Glaser): Karen.Glaser@mail.house.gov .

City-Councilor Colleen Fanning: fanningindy@gmail.com ; (317) 935-4776.

FINALLY, please remember, completing the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project now, while federal funds are available, in no way excludes future Rocky Ripple flood protection.  The City continues to work with Rocky Ripple to explore viable alternatives.  Additionally, recently proposed legislation (HB1440: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bills/house/1440#document-fdac2a24 ) provides approximately $60 million in funding for future Rocky Ripple flood protection projects.

The Floodwall Debate: Fact-checking Recent Fictions

 Author:  Jim Polito

Introduction:

The Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project (“project”) seeks to protect from the consequences of a severe flood event approximately 2,500 homes and 5,000 individuals. A recent engineering study shows over five feet of floodwater would surround a representative flood plain home in such an event and, unfortunately, we see such events becoming increasingly common. The catastrophic October 2015 floods striking South Carolina will go down in the history books, not only because of the lives they’ve taken or the destruction they’ve wrought, but also because of the sheer amount of rainfall [1]. The historic and unprecedented December 2015 flooding in Illinois and Missouri caused governors to declare states of emergency across wide swaths of their states, and officials blame 20 deaths on the floods [2]. Only the grace of a weather pattern spared Indianapolis North flood plain residents from a similar fate.

The City of Indianapolis now seeks to complete the next project phase using the “Westfield Boulevard Alternative” [3] and approximately $10 million in federal funding recently made available. We applaud and support the City’s decision to move forward this long, languishing 20-year public safety project, and its attempt to provide basic flood protection to those citizens and constituents it now can. We do understand the Westfield Boulevard Alternative does not reduce the potential for flood damage to approximately 350 Rocky Ripple homes and their 700 residents, and hope the search continues for appropriate mitigation measures.

The City of Indianapolis faces an important upcoming project milestone as it meets on March 8th with the United States Army Corps of Engineers to discuss final project status and concerns. Unfortunately, as this project milestone nears, two respected organizations, Midtown Indianapolis, Inc. and the Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association, call on the City to forgo federal project funding and delay the project so the City may give the project “a second look.”

Those who oppose project progress at this time also now widely disseminate information of a biased or misleading nature in order to promote and publicize their point of view. We fear these organizations may continue to release and repeat such information and believe doing so substantially harms this important public policy debate. We accordingly address this information.

Rocky Ripple Flood Protection:

Midtown Indianapolis, Inc. and the Butler Tarkington Neighborhood Association each implore the City of Indianapolis to delay project progress so that the City may take a second look at the project and consider the merits of a project alternative that reduces the potential for Rocky Ripple flood damage [4], [5]. Unfortunately, these organizations most recently supported the “Canal West Bank Alignment,” which similarly fails to provide Rocky Ripple flood protection:

“ …[A]ffected Midtown neighborhoods [acting in consensus], asked the City to study this sixth alternative, which was coined the Canal West Bank Alignment [6].”

It is inconsistent for these organizations to now ask the City to delay project progress because the project at this time does not provide Rocky Ripple flood protection, when shortly prior, they asked the City to delay the project to pursue an alternative that similarly failed to provide Rocky Ripple flood protection.

Project Support:

Midtown Indianapolis, Inc. indicates the Westfield Boulevard Alternative is “nearly universally opposed” [4]. It is hard to understand how Midtown Indianapolis, Inc. reached this conclusion. On January 4, 2016, Midtown Indianapolis, Inc. received by e-mail from SaveWarfleigh a copy of a petition, which now has nearly 1,000 signatories, urging expeditious project completion [7]. Midtown Indianapolis, Inc. also received at this time copies of constituent letters supporting project completion. Additionally, Midtown Indianapolis, Inc. should be aware of the hundreds of signs urging project support now appearing in the yards of homes in affected neighborhoods. Finally, simple intuition should suggest to Midtown Indianapolis, Inc. that at least some, if not the majority, of the 2,500 homes and 5,000 individuals this project seeks to protect actually support the project. It is difficult to conclude the project is nearly universally opposed in light of this demonstrated and wide-spread support.

Economic health of neighborhoods:

Midtown Indianapolis, Inc. urges Mayor Hogsett take a second look at the City’s plan for moving forward considering, for example, the long-term economic health of neighborhoods [4]. Quite simply, failing to move forward now imposes and continues to impose extreme economic harm upon midtown Indianapolis:

(a) Recent changes in the terms and conditions of the national flood insurance program impose precipitous increases in annual premiums for flood insurance upon affected homes and businesses. The Warfleigh Neighborhood Association recently reports an annual cost to a homeowner for flood insurance in the range of $8,000 per year. Of course, we do not know average rates, but using a much lower estimate of $4,000 per year, and applying this to the approximately 2,500 homes and businesses in the area for which flood insurance is or will be a requirement, suggests nearly $10,000,000 dollars a year in flood insurance premiums now flow out of the local economy [8]. It is difficult to understand how a project delay of an indeterminable length that drains annually from the midtown Indianapolis economy $10,000,000 in purchasing power would contribute to the economic health of this area. More likely, delaying the project and removing from midtown Indianapolis such purchasing power impairs the economic health of midtown Indianapolis.

(b) Project opponents sometimes seek to dismiss project advocates as individuals solely interested in property values and annual flood insurance premiums. This of course is not the case. Nevertheless, if completing this project phase does increase property values in the affected areas, then this positively contributes to the economic health of midtown Indianapolis. Rising property values create a wealth effect that induces additional consumption and spending [9]. The local economy benefits as households consume and spend more. Rising property values lead to increasing property tax assessments. Increasing property tax assessments increases local government revenue. Increasing local government revenue increases the ability of local government to provide public services that benefit both businesses and residences, increasing the economic health of a community.

Secondary Water Intake Structure:

Those opposed to the Westfield Boulevard Alternative previously indicated the City should not move the project forward using this alternative because of concerns related to the safety and integrity of the City’s water supply system. The City dutifully addressed these concerns and the City now will assist Citizens Energy Group with the construction of a supplemental water intake system. Importantly, Citizens Energy Group indicated in a recent stakeholder meeting that construction of the supplemental water intake system is an important system improvement and upgrade, regardless of whether it is completed in conjunction with the levee and floodwall project. That is, in and of itself, the supplemental water intake system contributes to good utility design and practice: (1) the supplemental water intake system will increase the ability of the utility to meet peak demand, and (2) the supplemental water intake system will provide the utility with an important source of redundancy. Those who previously expressed concerns regarding the safety and security of the City’s water supply system should welcome this important system upgrade and improvement. Midtown Indianapolis, Inc. characterizes this as disturbing news [4].

Private Market Flood Insurance:

The Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association in a recent (2/28/16) letter to Butler-Tarkington residents highlights the potential for purchasing flood insurance on the private market because doing so currently confers a cost-advantage relative to insurance purchased through the national flood insurance program. Unfortunately, neither private market flood insurance nor insurance purchased through the national flood insurance program protects a home from the five feet of floodwater that would surround the home should a significant flood event occur. Conversely, completing this project phase using the Westfield Boulevard Alternative will protect affected households from floodwater that otherwise would surround their home. Furthermore, while private market flood insurance now may offer cost savings relative to other alternatives, this cost advantage may or may not persist over time – especially after the first occurrence of a significant flood event. Simply, if insurance products are like other products, then we may expect the rates for these two similar products protecting against similar risks to converge over time with any initial cost differences dissipating.

Effect on neighborhood amenities:

Midtown Indianapolis, Inc. indicates completing the current project phase using the Westfield Boulevard Alignment will bifurcate Holcomb Gardens. The Corps of Engineers identified Holcomb Gardens as a unique resource within the path of the Westfield Boulevard Alternative as early as April of 2009 and included it in their consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act with the Indiana State Historic Preservation Officer and other consulting parties. Based on the Westfield Boulevard Alternative design, only the eastern side of Holcomb Gardens would be affected if the Westfield Boulevard is selected as the proposed action [10].

Conclusion:

The Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project seeks to protect approximately 2,500 homes and 5,000 individuals from the devastating consequences of severe flood events which increasingly are becoming more common. We applaud and support the City’s decision to move forward this long, languishing 20-year public safety project, and its attempt to provide basic flood protection to those citizens and constituents federal funding now allows. We do understand the Westfield Boulevard Alignment does not reduce the potential for flood damage to Rocky Ripple. However, we also understand terminating project progress similarly fails to reduce the potential for flood damage to Rocky Ripple. Alternatively, terminating project progress at this time imposes considerable cost upon approximately 2,500 households and 5,000 flood plain residents, and impairs the economic health of midtown Indianapolis. Accordingly, the suggestion to halt project progress imposes extreme hardship and cost upon many and, at the same time, provides benefit to no one. A more reasonable strategy would be to support project progress now while continuing to search for a viable Rocky Ripple solution.

Those who share this perspective should take this final moment to consider sending a letter or e-mail to the City thanking the City for its decision to move forward the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project and indicating your support for the Westfield Boulevard Alternative.

Contact:

Jeff Bennett

Jeff.Bennett@Indy.Gov
Deputy Mayor of Community Development

Office of Mayor Joe Hogsett – City of Indianapolis

Notes and Resources:

[1] See: https://weather.com/news/news/south-carolina-historic-flood-rainfall-record-extreme

[2] See: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/31/us/missouri-flooding-st-louis-mississippi.html

[3] See: http://www.indy.gov/eGov/City/DPW/RebuildIndy/Projects/Documents/Location%20Map%20Indy%20North%20Levee.pdf

[4] See: http://www.midtownindy.org/

[5] See: http://butlertarkington.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/BTNA-Feb-2016-Letter-to-Mayor-Hogsett.pdf

[6] See: http://brva.org/news/

[7] See: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/save-warfleigh-finish-2?source=c.em&r_by=11612904

[8] We should expect the actual value to be in some reasonable range around this value

[9] We recently saw this in reverse when the decline in home values resulting from the burst of the “housing bubble” caused households to decrease spending and consumption leading to the most protracted recession in recent history

[10] See: Appendix E, Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

Midtown Indianapolis

The below information was taken from the Midtown Indianapolis website, which was also sent in an email to its subscribers in late February 2016

Author: Unknown

Flood wall update:

On Thursday, Midtown Inc joined the City of Indianapolis, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and key stakeholders for an update on the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction project. At the meeting we learned that by order of former Mayor Greg Ballard the long and nearly universally opposed Westfield Alignment was authorized to proceed. In addition, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced that the project has received federal funding and is now “Shovel Ready.” You may recall this project fails to provide basic/equitable flood protection for the residents of Rocky Ripple. Further the project will bifurcate Holcomb Gardens, and will cross the Central Canal necessitating a nearly $16M secondary water intake to provide emergency water flow in the event the Central Canal is destroyed by flood or the flood gate is closed. This news was disturbing and has far reaching implications for home values, safety, access to greenspace and the long term economic health of neighborhoods from Rocky Ripple north to Broad Ripple. Midtown Inc. is working alongside stakeholders to understand options moving forward and secure a commitment from Mayor Hogsett to take a second look at the plan and ensure that Indianapolis proceeds with a plan that will provide equitable flood protection and economic relief for all stakeholders.

Finish the Flood Wall

I’m pleased to announce a partnership between SaveWarfleigh and an
> organization newly formed by Butler-Tarkington residents,
> “FinishtheFloodwall.” Both organizations share a common mission: To
> raise awareness of the benefits of completing the Indianapolis North
> Flood Damage Reduction Project in an effort to preserve life,
> stability and property values in midtown Indianapolis, surrounding
> neighborhoods and the greater community. The organizations will share
> infrastructure, resources and expertise as appropriate, with
> FinishtheFloodwall emphasizing “boots-on-the-ground” advocacy in the
> Butler-Tarkington area. Recent FinishtheFloodwall activities include
> a Butler-Tarkington education and petition drive – you also may soon
> see throughout the Butler-Tarkington area FinishtheFloodwall signs
> (see attached!). The SaveWarfleigh sign drive had great impact – we hope
the FinishtheFloodwall sign drive has similar effect.
> For more information:
>
> Website: http://www.finishthefloodwall.org (joint website) Primary
> Contact: jackie@finishthefloodwall.org

Jim Polito

BRVA Flood Wall Letter to Mayor Hogsett

Original letter posted HERE

January 11, 2016

Mayor Joe Hogsett
2501 City-County Building
200 East Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Dear Mayor Hogsett:

The Broad Ripple Village Association (BRVA), founded in 1969, represents approximately 3,000 residents and 700 businesses in Broad Ripple, a designated Cultural District located within the North Midtown Economic Development District. As previously stated in our September 27th, 2012 letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, our organization is “eager to support a flood wall completion plan that can be certified in a timely manner and that ultimately offers relief from the expense of flood insurance and/or flood proofing.”

We continue to be in support of the alignment that provides completion and certification of the flood wall. The prior administration announced a decision in December 2015, prior to releasing the results of a long-awaited study to evaluate the Canal West Bank Alignment option. Now that the full study is available, we ask your administration to review the study results and to confirm the City’s position regarding the final alignment.

We recognize that a decision affects more than just our neighborhood and we hope the City selected alignment, to the best of its ability, maximizes the preservation of life and property and protects as many families and homes as possible in the impacted flood area. We do, however, proudly represent the individuals and businesses of Broad Ripple and our constituents remain in a precarious position without the completion and certification of the flood wall.

During your review, we ask your administration to carefully consider the protection of the City’s drinking water supply and, to the extent it can be preserved, Holcomb Gardens on the Butler University campus.

We kindly request an update regarding whether or not the City will accept the Ballard administration’s decision as it stands or if it plans to reevaluate it by February 15, 2016.

The BRVA supports the completion of the flood wall and an alignment that will ultimately be certified by FEMA, thereby relieving our constituents of the costly expense of flood insurance and/or flood proofing, broadening opportunities for development and, preserving life and property in Broad Ripple.

Sincerely,
Kent Springer
President, Broad Ripple Village Association

cc: Colleen Fanning, City-County Council, District 2

Broad Ripple Village Association Letter to Constituents

Dear constituents.

On behalf of the board of directors for the Broad Ripple Village Association (BRVA), I thank those who reached out to the organization to express their thoughts regarding the Ballard administration’s selection of the Westfield Blvd. Alignment and its decision to proceed to find funding to complete the construction of Phase 3B of the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project.

In 2012 the BRVA recorded its position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and City of Indianapolis as “withholding support” for the Corps recommended Westfield Blvd. Alignment due to “Concerns raised about the safety of Rocky Ripple residents, the gross clear-cutting of trees, the risk to the City of Indianapolis’ drinking water supply, and the walling off of neighborhoods.” During that time many issues were still under evaluation. Neighborhoods and environmental preservation organizations were examining options to preserve trees along the levee, as there seemed to be legal precedent in other areas of the country that trees could be saved. Groups were exploring the possibility of partial certification for the existing length of the flood wall, as well as, digesting the possibility of a sixth alternative alignment that, if feasible, could protect the City’s drinking water supply and lessen several southern neighborhoods’ concerns about being “walled off”.

The City and the Corps both confirmed that funding Phase 3B was not in hand and that they couldn’t speculate when funds may be found as funding for these sorts of projects are difficult to come by. Believing that the City and Corps should evaluate every possible option to protect and preserve neighborhoods, we, the BRVA, in consensus with other affected Midtown neighborhoods, asked the City to study this sixth alternative, which was coined the Canal West Bank Alignment. The city agreed to fund the study.

On December 9, 2015 the Ballard administration announced it would support the Corps recommendation to complete the Westfield Blvd. Alignment, citing study results that deemed the Canal West Bank Alignment infeasible. The study document was edited on December 18, released to the public on December 28, and the Ballard administration left office on December 31. The BRVA board discussed the announcement and study findings at its January 5, 2016 board meeting and determined a course of action.

As residents and business owners of the Village ourselves, we are your neighbors. We share your interests and your desires to make the Village a safe and prosperous neighborhood and Cultural District. Please find our letter to the Hogsett administration attached, calling for his attention to the flood wall issue and asking for his help in completing the flood wall.

Sincerely.

Kent Springer
President
Broad Ripple Village Association

Brooke Klejnot
Executive Director
Broad Ripple Village Association (BRVA)
6323 Guilford Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46220
Phone: 317-251-BRVA (2782)
Fax: 317-251-1322
brooke@brva.org
http://www.BRVA.org

Response to Butler Tarkington Neighbor Association’s Most Recent Opposition to Complete the Indianapolis North Flood Reduction Project

The Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project (“project”) seeks to remove from the flood plain approximately 2,100 homes and businesses. Removing from the flood plain the approximately 4,000 people who likely live in these homes protects them from the very real and present threat of severe flooding with devastating consequence. Additionally, removing these homes and businesses from the flood plain protects these homes and businesses from the financial burden of annual premiums for flood insurance, which, for some are in the range of $8,000 – $10,000 per year. Millions of dollars a year literally leave the local economy due to flood insurance requirements. 

The City of Indianapolis (“City”) recently released its common-sense decision to leverage federal funds and complete the project. The City’s decision enjoys widespread support throughout Indianapolis. The Warfleigh Neighborhood Association supports the City’s decision. Participating members of SaveWarfleigh, Inc. support the City’s decision. Approximately 900 signatories to a petition urging the City to expeditiously complete the project support the decision. These individuals reside throughout Indianapolis. Elected representatives at both the federal and local level support the City’s decision. Citizens Energy Group supports the City’s decision, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) supports the City’s decision, and the City’s Department of Public Works supports the City’s decision. 

Unfortunately, the Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood fails to support the City’s decision and recently distributed for immediate release a call to once again delay the project.

I’ve had the opportunity to review and consider in detail the BTNA’s call for project delay (“BTNA alternative”). I conclude the BTNA’s alternative exhibits certain weaknesses and flaws that undermine its ability to serve as a credible alternative. The BTNA’s alternative also fails to share important facts and raises serious questions and concerns. I provide perceived weakness, flaws, questions and concerns below:

(1) Representativeness. The BTNA releases a public policy statement that affects the very lives and well-being of over 4,000 individuals in the flood plain. It is the BTNA’s responsibility as a good neighborhood steward to demonstrate their position is widely held, both throughout their own neighborhood and throughout Indianapolis. The BTNA must provide evidence that “thousands of residents vehemently oppose” project completion. The BTNA must provide evidence that those Butler-Tarkington residents who live or soon will be mapped into the flood plain support the BTNA’s recent alternative. The BTNA should indicate to what extent the Board sought community and neighborhood input when formulating its December 15, 2015 policy position, especially in light of recent developments.

(2) BTNA: The City’s decision “runs counter to the city’s understanding of community objection and previously stated objection (sic) the Westfield Boulevard alignment.”
The BTNA here seeks to communicate for the City when it indicates the City’s decision runs counter to the city’s understanding of community objection. The BTNA cannot presume to know what the City may or may not understand. Nor can the BTNA claim to understand what conclusions the City may have reached based on community input – though the City’s recent decision to complete the project provides strong indication of such.
(3) “The BTNA has long opposed this option (the Westfield Boulevard Alternative) because of the threat it creates for catastrophic damage to the Central Canal.”

Flood waters currently will inundate the Central Canal in case of a significant flood event. The BTNA’s call to delay the project does nothing to eliminate its perceived threat to the Central Canal. Additionally, the BTNA offers no other alternative to actually protect the canal – especially, troubling because its last most favored alternative, the Canal West Bank Alignment, again, proves infeasible.
(4) The Westfield Boulevard Alignment creates catastrophic damage to the Town of Rocky Ripple in a major flood event and effectively prevents Rocky Ripple from future flood protection.

(i) Completing the project provides no flood protection benefit to Rocky Ripple. Abandoning the project provides no flood protection to Rocky Ripple. Abandoning the project imposes considerable cost upon 4,000 flood plain residents. Simply, the BTNA’s proposed alternative imposes extreme hardship and cost upon many, and, at the same time, provides benefit to no one. This clearly is an unreasonable strategy and alternative.
(ii) I’ve attached a project diagram. Inspection of the map shows completing the currently proposed project phase will not impair the possibility of future Rocky Ripple protection. The most likely factor preventing Rocky Ripple protection at this time is the $50,0000,000 project cost compared to the $5,000,000 in project costs required to complete the current phase. The BTNA must provide strong evidence, technical evidence, to support its claim that completing the Westfield Boulevard segment of the project effectively prevents Rocky Ripple from future protection.

(iii) The BTNA’s most recently preferred alternative, the Canal West Bank Alignment, provided no flood protection for Rocky Ripple. Additionally, completing that alignment would have required demolishing at least six Rocky Ripple homes. It seems disingenuous for the BTNA Board to propose delaying the project now because it fails to provide Rocky Ripple protection, while at the same time, its own preferred alternative, the Canal West Bank Alignment, similarly provides no Rocky Ripple protection.

(5) The Westfield Boulevard Alignment creates a 6-foot flood wall that will be a blank canvas for graffiti and create a sight barrier to activities happening across the canal on the towpath.

(i) The Westfield Boulevard Alignment consists of a fixed flood wall segment, significantly less than 6-feet in height, and a removable segment that will be installed only in the event of a flood event. I’ve attached project renderings for proposed portions as well as completed portions. Please note the actually completed section of the project is not laden with graffiti. Please also drive along Riverview Drive, from approximately Kessler Boulevard to 64th street to see the extent to which the completed portion of the project has become a target for graffiti. I think many of you actually will concur this completed segment presents no aesthetic concerns.

(ii) The Westfield Boulevard Alternative in many places will replace invasive honey-suckle that has reached a height in excess of the fixed portion of the flood wall. Completing the project actually will increase the view plain relative to the BTNA’s proposed alternative.
(6) The Westfield Boulevard Alignment will run through historic Holcomb Gardens on the Butler University campus.

The Corps of Engineers identified Holcomb Gardens as a unique resource within the path of the Westfield Boulevard Alternative as early as April of 2009 and included it in their consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act with the Indiana State Historic Preservation Officer (IN SHPO) and other consulting parties. Based on the Westfield Boulevard Alternative design, only the eastern side of Holcomb Gardens would be affected if the Westfield Boulevard is selected as the proposed action. See Appendix E, Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

Again, based on my review, the BTNA’s current proposal to once again delay project completion exhibits certain weaknesses and flaws that undermine its ability to serve as a credible alternative. The BTNA’s alternative also fails to share important facts and raises serious questions and concerns. I counsel extreme caution when making public policy statements that affects the very lives and well-being of over 4,000 individuals. 

I urge the BTNA to engage in a fact-based discussion and to freely share with all the facts upon which its policy pronouncements rest. I also urge the BTNA to drop its opposition to this project and, instead, to cooperate and collaborate with the City in order to develop an aesthetically pleasing final solution to a project that has languished for over 20 years. The project benefits are clear and incontrovertible.