Winter 2022 Levee and Floodwall Update

Hi all,

Well, here’s the most recent update I’ve been able to obtain. Please don’t shoot the messenger. I don’t work for the City, nor do I have any particular relationship with the City other than being able to obtain updates because of past efforts to help bring to completion the levee and floodwall project.

Issues and items identified in the last levee and floodwall update (October 2021) included the following:
 
(1) Passive wall testing. A positive and complete Levee Safety Evaluation Report requires the USACE to test the passive wall infrastructure along Westfield Boulevard at the 52nd Street crossing. This test was completed. However, the subsequent inspection revealed weld cracking from expansion of wall materials.  The USACE is currently completing a contract modification so it may complete the desired repairs.
 
(2) 52nd Street rebar replacement. Increasing structural integrity along the foundation of the flood wall crossing at 52nd Street required placing additional rebar steel in the roadway. This work was completed late December 2021.
 
(3) Video inspection of the foundation drains along the floodwall. Storm water pipes and other utilities, if any, within fifteen feet of the toe of the levee or floodwall must be inspected to ensure there has been no displacement or deflection of infrastructure impacting the flood works and levee and floodwall project. This work was not completed as of October 2021 and remains underway. Open items include additional video inspection.  The Corps is modifying work contracts to allow for this. Additional open items include finalizing extensive, standardized reports of completed visual inspections.
 
Finally, and unfortunately, the above work, previously projected to be completed by end of year 2021, now has an estimated May 2022 completion date. Then, the Corps submits final project documents to FEMA for its review. This completes the Corp’s certification process and triggers the FEMA accreditation process. The accreditation process is expected to be completed within 4 – 6 months, and so final relief now is not anticipated by the City until year end (December 2022).

Frankly, based on continuing repeated delay with project certification, I do not expect relief to occur until spring/summer 2023.
 
Thanks, and please reach out with any questions.

Jim Polito

ps … on an unrelated note … I’m trying to increase viewership among a current events channel I’ve created. It primarily serves my introductory economics students, but, heck! … just in case you might like short daily clips of current events:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_UQNGZIhLnSRMDdEJHzUcg

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WNA November Meeting of Directors: Proposed Agenda and Commentary

Hi all,

The WNA meets virtually Tuesday, November 9, 6:30 pm for a Meeting of Directors. The WNA will not make this meeting observable to WNA Voting Members (??). Unfortunately, the WNA must address many administrative issues due to previous “inadvertence.” I’ve shared the agenda below with WNA directors, however, the WNA has yet to release its “official agenda.” It’s not clear which WNA member has the authority to do this because all WNA directors currently are similarly situated with equal authority and responsibility. I’ve also included comment on some proposed agenda items, and a “prologue” establishing the basis for these comments. I’ll try to provide meeting minutes if possible.

Prologue

The WNA seeks to be a “representative neighborhood association.” The WNA in the past has claimed to represent the Warfleigh neighborhood in matters of public affairs and public policy. This representation includes claiming to represent the neighborhood in communications and meetings with public officials, public agencies, and elected representatives. If the WNA seeks to make such claims in the future, then the WNA must provide the Warfleigh neighborhood with “due process,” including acting in compliance with its bylaws which intend to protect the neighborhood from an inappropriate form of governance.

Proposed Agenda

I.  Establish Quorum

II. Confirm Meeting Appropriately Noticed

WNA bylaws require the WNA notice meetings of directors. The WNA in the past has chosen not to do so. The WNA yet has done so at the time of this post. The WNA should seek to act in accordance with its bylaws.

III. Approval of Agenda (with opportunity to adjust upon approval of directors)

IV. Approval of Minutes of 10/12/21 Annual Meeting

The WNA minutes of the Annual Meeting indicate the WNA may wait until its next Annual Meeting (March 2022) to appropriately constitute the board. This is in error: (1) no member attending the meeting suggested this as a solution (the WNA did record the meeting), (2) this is not consistent with a plain reading of the bylaws, and (3) the suggestion is illogical. For example, suppose through “inadvertence” the WNA again inappropriately constitutes the board in its March 2022 Annual Meeting. The WNA position suggests this error would need no remedy until the March 2023 Annual Meeting. The error therefore would go uncorrected for a year, with the plain result of no actual remedy. The WNA would continue to aggrieve voting members for a year. The WNA must appropriately constitute the board of directors and establish an odd number of directors by the next voting member meeting.

V. New Business

A. Release Election Results

(1) A WNA voting member requests release of detailed election results. The WNA has yet to either address or acknowledge this request. If the WNA claims to be a representative neighborhood association, then the WNA must respond to voting member requests. Failure to do so needlessly disenfranchises WNA voting members.

(2) I have requested the WNA release detailed election results, especially considering “B.,” below. The WNA has yet to address this request. Similarly situated directors should have equal access to all available information.

(3) The WNA should not create “classes” of voting members within the neighborhood: (i) “first-class” voting members who have privileged and exclusive access to WNA information (and meetings), and (ii) “second-class” voting members who the WNA denies access to privileged and exclusive information, including meetings. This, again, disenfranchises voting members and contributes to the WNA’s trust deficit.

B. Appropriately Constitute Board

WNA bylaws require the WNA seat an odd number of directors. A WNA voting member in our Annual Meeting requested we only seat an odd number of directors. The WNA must resolve this issue prior to its next voting member meeting, with a Regular Voting Member meeting currently scheduled for December.

There are at least three straightforward solutions:

(1) A director may voluntarily resign from the board, only missing the January Meeting of Directors, and seeking re-election in the March Annual Voting Member Meeting.

(2) The WNA may postpone its December Regular Voting Member Meeting until the March Annual Voting Member Meeting (bylaws do not specify how frequently the WNA must hold Regular Voting Member Meetings).

(3) The WNA could rely on election results and only seat the nine directors receiving the highest percentage of votes. The “tenth” director would miss the January Meeting of Directors and could seek re-election in March.

C. Election of Officers

D. Stagger Terms of Service (Determine Class A and Class B directors)

The WNA no longer has record of “Class A” and “Class B” directors. Accordingly, the WNA now must assign a subset of directors to a one-year term of service, and another subset of directors to a two-year term of service. This will re-establish staggered terms of service so the WNA never in the future need re-elect all directors at one time. At least two solutions exist:

(1) Stagger terms of service on a voluntary basis.

(2) Stagger terms of service based on an underlying principle, for example, establish director classes based on previous terms of service. Here: (a) first-time serving directors would have an opportunity for a longer term of service, and (b) previously serving directors would have shorter terms of service.

E. Determine Terms of Service – October to October, or October to March?

The WNA schedules its next Annual Voting Membership Meeting for March 2022. We now have conflicting terms of service for directors. Does the term of service of a Class A director span from October 2021 to October 2022 or from October 2021 to March 2022? Similarly, should the term of service of a Class B director span from October 2021 to October 2023 or from October 2021 to March 2023. The WNA should establish terms of service for Class A directors that expire in March 2022, and terms of service for Class B directors that expire in March 2023.

F. Visibility of Meetings of Directors – Notice Meetings?? Open or Closed??

WNA bylaws require the WNA notice Meetings of Directors. Due process requires the WNA do so. The WNA has yet to do so. Additionally, the WNA chooses to deny voting members observation of its Meetings of Directors.

The WNA increases its trust deficit in the neighborhood when it meets privately without notice to conduct neighborhood business such as electing WNA officers. Voting members wonder why the WNA would close to voting members observation of the election of WNA officers. Voting members wonder why the WNA must conduct any business privately without notice. The WNA should post meeting notices, agendas, and minutes – especially those required by WNA bylaws.

G. Permitted Information in Website Biographies

The WNA less than fully responsively addresses voting members outreach and concerns, including e-mails received through the WNA website. This creates frustration among voting members. The WNA contemplates forbidding including in director’s website biographies e-mail addresses through which voting members directly may contact willing directors. The WNA should support a director that seeks to increase accessibility to WNA Voting members.

H. Neighborhood Infrastructure Partnership Program          

I. Review of Bylaws

J. Duties and Expectations for Board Members

K. Other Business 

VI. Announcements/Recognitions/Reminders

VII. Agenda Items for Next Meeting

VIII. Adjournment

The WNA: Some Messy Governance Issues

WNA: Some Messy Governance Issues

Hi all,

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m now a director of the Warfleigh Neighborhood Association (WNA). My goal is to help create an open, inclusive, and transparent neighborhood association that conducts itself in accordance with its bylaws. I have much confidence the great group of directors with whom I work will do many wonderful things. Unfortunately, we have some messy governance issues to first address, and I share them here to help promote transparency. These include:

(1) Unelected individuals serving as directors and officers (and its consequences),

(2) Inappropriately constituted board of directors,

(3) Restoring staggered terms of service,

(4) Misaligned terms of service,

(5) Failure to release election results, and

(6) Open meetings and lack of transparency.

Please know the thoughts below only offer the perspective and opinions of one board member. They do not represent the position of the WNA.

Jim Polito

(1) Unelected individuals serving as directors and officers. The terms of service of three of the previous six directors expired in March 2021 – because directors serve staggered two-year terms (Class A Directors and Class B Directors). The WNA then had two options: (i) hold an election (the WNA met virtually during this time), or (ii) remove from the board of directors those whose terms had expired.

Unfortunately, the WNA did neither and this is a bit problematic:

(a) Unelected individuals served on the board of directors of the WNA from March 2021 to October 2021. Unelected individuals should not serve on the board of the WNA and should not claim to represent the neighborhood as a director of the WNA.

(b) The WNA board must consist of at least five members. If the WNA board consists of less than five members, then the WNA had until the first member meeting after March 2021 to correct the matter. The WNA did not do so, even though it held member meetings between March 2021 and October 2021. One neighbor has interpreted this to mean the organization no longer existed between March 2021 and October 2021 because it cannot exist with less than five board members as required by its bylaws.

(c) At least one, and potentially three, unelected individuals served as an officer of the WNA from March 2021 to October 2021 as an officer’s term expires as their term of service expires.  This means the WNA could have operated from March 2021 to October 2021 without a President, Vice-President or Treasurer.  Unfortunately, we do not know exactly what happened because the WNA does not know who are Class A Directors and who are Class B Directors.

(d) The preceding means the WNA now may not have either a president, vice-president, secretary, or treasurer. The term of service of an officer expires at the same time as their tenure as a director expires. A previously serving director whose term of service expired in March 2021 now is not an officer of the WNA because they again were elected in October of 2021 after their term expired in March 2021.

(e) The preceding may call into doubt any action, results, and votes taken by the WNA between March 2021 and October 2021 as three unelected individuals acted as WNA directors, and at least one as an officer, with no basis for doing so.

(2) Inappropriately constituted board of directors. The WNA recently held board of director elections. Unfortunately, the elections were not consistent with WNA bylaws which require an odd, rather than even, number of directors be seated.

(a) The WNA board now has three choices: (i) violate its bylaws, (ii) reduce by one the number of “elected” directors, or (iii) increase by one the number of elected directors. Unfortunately, the WNA cannot violate its bylaws. Additionally, new directors only are elected at annual meetings, the next one occurring in March 2022.  Accordingly, it seems the WNA now must reduce by one the number of directors to be consistent with its bylaws.

(b) We must reduce by one the number of directors by the next voting member meeting held in December. I do understand the WNA believes we have until March 2022 to correct this at the next Annual Meeting – see final minutes of the meeting posted on the WNA website. This may be problematic:

(i) While one member provided pertinent sections of the bylaws indicating the WNA must resolve this by the next voting member meeting, no one in the meeting indicated this voting member meeting would be the Annual Voting Member meeting. The minutes should be corrected.

(ii) I believe this may be based on an incorrect reading of the bylaws.  Specifically, there are three types of Voting Member Meetings, Regular, Annual, and Special. The WNA bylaws indicate the WNA must resolve the election error no later than the next Voting Member Meeting, without specifying which type of meeting. Consequently, the WNA must resolve this issue by the next Voting Member Meeting which will be a Regular Voting Member Meeting held in December. This only makes sense. Otherwise, an election error could persist for the entirety of a year, that is, the period between Annual Meetings when elections are held – which means the error never would have been corrected.

(c) Prior to recent elections, the WNA board consisted of six members. This means the WNA did not act in accordance with its bylaws since at least March 2020 and potentially longer.

(d) The WNA may wish to revisit this bylaw provision (among others). Increasing participation is the likely goal of allowing an even, rather than odd, number of directors and the WNA needs to increase participation. Unfortunately, seating an even number of directors also has the potential for impairing WNA progress as matters requiring votes of the WNA directors may fail to be resolved because of a lack of a majority vote.

(3) Restoring staggered terms of service. WNA directors, according to bylaws, have staggered terms of service. There never should be an election in which all directors must be re-elected. Instead, only one-half (1/2) of directors should be elected at any annual meeting. Unfortunately, as above, the WNA lost record of Class A and Class B directors and corresponding terms of service. Accordingly, to restore staggered terms of service, the WNA must now decide which directors have a one-year term of service, and which directors have a two-year term of service.  While of course this is a matter of debate, directors serving their first term should not suffer from the inadvertence of the previous board. First term directors should have a two-year term of service, directors who have previously served should have an initial one-year term of service.

(4) Misaligned terms of service. The next WNA Annual Voting Membership Meeting is scheduled for March 2022. We now have conflicting terms of service for directors. Does the term of service of previously serving board members now span from October 2021 to October 2022 or from October 2021 to March 2022? Similarly, should terms of service of first-time board members span from October 2021 to October 2023 or from October 2021 to March 2023. Again, while this is debatable, the term of service of previously serving board members should expire in March 2022 and the term of service of first-time serving board members should expire in March 2023.

(5) Failure to release election results. The WNA is now approaching a week since its director’s election and has yet to release requested election results – both as requested by a director and as requested by a voting member. Additionally, we’ve failed to even respond in one way or another to our voting member. Again, while subject to discussion, the WNA should release election results:

(a) The results readily are available else the WNA could not have confirmed the results of the election.

(b) It’s reasonable to expect all directors have equal access to all information – no information should be privileged. Additionally, because we have no officers at this time, no one can claim privilege because of their office.

(c)The WNA does not own the data it collects and maintains. The voting members own this data.

(d) The WNA is a representative, democratic organization. Representative, democratic organizations release election results when requested.

(6) Open meetings and lack of transparency. Failure to release election results perpetuates the negative perception of the WNA as a closed, private, and secretive organization.  Additionally, the November Director’s meeting where we elect directors and resolve the above issues will be both consequential and controversial.  We should make available for voting members observation of, but not participation in, the next Director’s meeting scheduled for November.

Generally, the WNA is perceived by some neighbors as an organization that lacks transparency, and we must address this – it impairs the neighborhood’s faith and trust in the organization, which impairs participation in the organization. For example, recent social media posts each from different individuals include the following:

– The Warfleigh neighborhood needs to be informed. It’s a social club. There needs to be a neighborhood association that is transparent and works for us rather than dictating what’s to happen.

– While I appreciate the volunteerism and commitment implicit in WNA board membership, it appears that some improvements may be necessary in the organizational operations to create transparency. It is a fact that prompt online communications are essential in modern society.

– The WNA’s lack of transparency on this issue lends me to taking the “opposition” perspective.

– Like I mentioned earlier I believe the WNA is a social club and not many are invited to play. I haven’t attended any meetings lately because I am over the top frustrated and disappointed in the WNA so I don’t know if that still takes place.

– The sad thing is it shouldn’t have had to come to this. We now must research the history of the WNA (Articles of Incorporation) in order to get it to act in compliance with its bylaws and post meeting notices, and, ideally, minutes and agendas

WNA Elections and “Irregularities”

Hi all!

I’m pleased to announce the Warfleigh Neighborhood Association (“WNA”) recently held elections and now has ten (10) board members, including five (5) newly elected board members. The expansion of the number of seats on the board should be helpful, and I’ve been elected as one of them!! I’m privileged and honored to be able to serve the neighborhood with such an accomplished and well-meaning group of people.

Unfortunately, due to “inadvertence” – lack of attention or care – the WNA seated an even, rather than odd, number of directors.  From the bylaws:

“The Board of Directors shall consist of an odd number of members with no fewer than five (5) and no more than fifteen (15) Directors. The Board of Directors shall have the right to increase or decrease the size of the Board of Directors within these limits. If the number of Directors is fewer or greater than these limits by reason of vacancy or removal, or because of inadvertence or events outside the control of the Board of Directors, the Board of Directors may continue to act and conduct all lawful business of the WNA, provided that the discrepancy is corrected no later than the next Voting Member Meeting.”

The WNA now must address this by the next Voting Member meeting, likely scheduled to occur in December. This may be difficult:

(1) The WNA has yet to release actual election results despite certain requests, and

(2) the WNA minutes of the election proceeding indicate the WNA has until next March to correct this (see http://www.warfleigh.com).

The latter was not discussed at the election proceeding and the assessment is based on an incorrect reading of the WNA bylaws. Specifically, there are three types of Voting Member Meetings, Regular, Annual, and Special. The WNA bylaws indicate the WNA must resolve this error no later than the next Voting Member Meeting, without specifying which type of meeting. Consequently, the WNA must resolve this issue by the next Voting Member Meeting which will be a Regular Voting Member Meeting, likely held in December. This only makes sense. Otherwise, an election error could exist for the entirety of a year, that is, the period between Annual Meetings when elections are held – which means the error never would be corrected.

I’ll keep you posted!

Jim Polito

Levee and Floodwall Update – Fall 2021

Hi all,

Here’s the most recent information I’ve been able to find:

On May 10, 2021, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) team responsible for the Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project (INFDRP) met with FEMA to discuss submitting remaining documents and estimated timeframes for FEMA review and Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) completion. Submission documents for the final USACE levee “certification” process include the completed Hydrologic and Hydraulic analysis as well as the USACE Levee Safety Evaluation Report (LSER). At the time of the meeting, three items needed to be completed before the USACE could finalize the LSER:

(1) Passive wall testing. A positive and complete Levee Safety Evaluation Report requires the USACE to test the passive wall infrastructure along Westfield Boulevard at the 52nd Street crossing. This work was bid to a contractor, and the USACE and contractor began preparing to test the passive wall on September 14, 2021. The passive wall test included raising the passive wall by flooding the interior of a barrier constructed along the foundation of the structure. The test concluded successfully.

(2) 52nd Street rebar: Increasing structural integrity along the foundation of the flood wall crossing at 52nd Street requires placing additional rebar steel in the roadway. This work first was identified nearly a year ago in our October 2020 levee and floodwall update. The work has been bid to a contractor. However, the work has not started yet as the contractor now works through the right-of-way permitting process. USACE indicates all project work will be completed no later than December 15, 2021. The City indicates it does not find this delay concerning. However, given the work has not yet started, it is not difficult to imagine this timeline slipping. We will have greater visibility with our winter (February 2021) update.

(3) Video inspection of the foundation drains along the floodwall. This work is not reported as completed. The City expects this work will be completed quickly once started, and indicates it will attempt to obtain a planned start date for this work from the contractor.

Pending completion of the above items, “certification” of the INFDRP will be complete. USACE then will submit all documentation to FEMA for their review and “accreditation”. FEMA determines their own schedule for completing the “accreditation” process, which includes floodplain map revision. Given the proposed/allowable inter-agency schedule, USACE continues to estimate an effective date for the newly revised floodplain map between August 2022 and May 2023.

Finally, to my Warfleigh neighbors: The next neighborhood association meeting is Tuesday, October 12, 6pm (virtual). I’ve nominated myself for an open position on the board of directors. Please attend the meeting and give me a vote (?!) if you would like to help me continue to find ways to serve the neighborhood.

Jim Polito

WNA: Please Enhance Bylaws for Transparency!

Hi all,

As you may know, the WNA often attempts to do good things such as host neighborhood picnics, clean-up days, garage sales, perform sidewalk surveys for purposes of repair and improvement, and similar such activities. The WNA’s existing policies, practices and procedures are sufficient for these purposes.

Increasingly, the WNA seeks to represent the neighborhood in meetings and correspondence with public agencies, public officials, and elected representatives. Additionally, the WNA occasionally hosts public meetings to discuss controversial matters such as forming a neighborhood conservation district within Warfleigh that would restrict certain property rights.

Unfortunately, the WNA’s existing policies, practices and procedures need improvement if the WNA seeks to act as outlined immediately above. Simply, the WNA needs to adopt best practices and principles of openness, transparency, and inclusiveness if the WNA seeks to claim it represents the neighborhood in matters of public policy and public affairs.

I’ve worked with the WNA over the summer to try to help implement process improvements. While the WNA has made some changes for which I am very grateful (thank-you, WNA!), additional work need be done to help ensure representativeness.

I’m next going to try to help the neighborhood and WNA by volunteering to be a WNA board member (vote for me!) and try to help the WNA improve its processes.

Initially, I will propose the WNA modify its bylaws to adopt best practices in open meetings and ensure openness, transparency, inclusiveness, and representativeness. The proposed changes would ensure the neighborhood receives meeting notices in advance of meetings, meeting agendas in advance of meetings, meeting minutes after meetings are held, and timely notice of any instance in which the WNA has represented the neighborhood in any discussion or correspondence with a public agency, public official, or elected official.

You can find here a copy of the changes to the bylaws I will propose:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/19ArhxJlJBEPnsFgHaaESNI9IN17GnInJ/view?usp=sharing

Recommended changes appear as red underlined text, deleted text appears in the margin.

I also will work with the WNA and try to ensure the WNA adopts an agenda that conforms to best practices in open meetings.  You can find a copy of the proposed agenda here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/187BZtZ0QNo1V7FScGGdmrDFBCm_MwYGg/view?usp=sharing

The changes to bylaws and agendas I propose are simple, basic, easy to implement and should be welcomed by any neighborhood organization that claims to represent the will of the neighborhood it intends to represent.

Here’s how you can help:

– Send the WNA an email (contact@warfleigh.com, president@warfleigh.com). Indicate you prefer the WNA adopt best practices in openness, transparency, and public meetings if the WNA seeks to claim it represents the neighborhood in matters of public affairs and public policy.

– Review the changes to the bylaws and agenda I will propose. Send the WNA an email (contact@warfleigh.com, president@warfleigh.com), indicate your support, and tell the WNA that it is your will the WNA adopt these changes.

– Stay tuned for further information, remain vigilant and remain vocal.

– Vote for me as a WNA board member at the next WNA public meeting, October 12, 2021.  See www.warfleigh.com for more information.

Ultimately, if a neighborhood organization claims to represent a neighborhood in matters of public policy and public affairs, and seeks to do so, then the neighborhood deserves openness, inclusiveness, representativeness, and transparency.

Thanks!

Jim Polito

Levee and Floodwall Update – Spring 2021

Hi all …

Well, here’s an update from the City on the levee and floodwall project.

I expect you may find the timeline for final accreditation disappointing.
 

  • On May 10, 2021, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) team responsible for the INFDRP effort met with FEMA to discuss the submittal of remaining documents and estimated timeframes for FEMA review and Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) completion. Staff from Indy DPW and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (INDR) were invited to attend this meeting.
  • Submission documents for the final USACE levee “certification” process include the completed Hydrologic and Hydraulic analysis as well as the USACE Levee Safety Evaluation Report (LSER). 
  • A positive and complete Levee Safety Evaluation Report yet requires the USACE to test the passive wall infrastructure along Westfield Boulevard at the 52nd Street crossing; this is work bid to a contractor. The contract has been bid by the USACE with returns expected June 4, 2021.  The term of this contract is 6 months.
  • With “certification” complete, USACE will submit all documentation to FEMA for their review and “accreditation”.  FEMA determines their own schedule for completing the “accreditation” process, which includes floodplain map revision.
  • Based on the notes from the May 10 meeting: Should the USACE give their contractor a Notice to Proceed on the wall testing in June 2021, the current proposed/allowable inter-agency schedule (including variables for the Westfield Boulevard wall testing, completion of the LSER, submittal of all documentation to FEMA, and completion of the LOMR review by FEMA) estimates an effective date for the newly revised floodplain map between August 2022 and May 2023.
  • The USACE and Indy DPW continue to discuss how to further reduce this timeframe if possible.

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

Jim Polito

WNA to Restrict Property Rights?

Hi all, I hope everyone remains well.

I found out rather by accident the Warfleigh Neighborhood Association (“WNA”) was meeting last night (Tuesday, April 13) to discuss a proposal that could or would restrict the rights of property owners in Warfleigh. You most likely were not aware of the event because the WNA doesn’t widely notice its meetings and doesn’t provide agendas or minutes of such meetings. So, fortunately or unfortunately, here I am. Sigh.

Generally, the WNA contemplates creating an Historic or Conservation District in Warfleigh.  Under this plan, the WNA would develop “Zoning and Land Use Recommendations” to govern development and redevelopment in Warfleigh.  Any subsequent development or redevelopment would then need to obtain a “Certificate of Appropriateness (COA)” indicating development or redevelopment is consistent with established guidelines and plans.  Most likely, the Zoning and Land Use Recommendations would be above and beyond the protections provided by existing zoning laws, code and regulation, otherwise there would be no need for the proposal and plan.

The Zoning and Land Use Recommendations could take various forms. For example, in historic districts, such as Monument Circle or Old Northside, every proposed change to the exterior of a building requires a Certificate of Appropriateness, except those that are specifically exempted by the development plan. This implies a strategy to protect architectural details as well as overall character.  Alternatively, in conservation districts, such as Ransom Place or Cumberland, only the proposed changes specified in the plan require a Certificate of Appropriateness and some design guidelines are not as strict as in a historic district. Generally, design guideline categories in historic and conservation districts include the following: (1) demolition; (2) renovating items such as awnings, canopies, doors, porches, roofs and roof elements, trim and ornamentation, windows and window openings; new building requirements and (3) new construction including building heights, setbacks, outlines, orientation, spacing, style and design, parking lots, signage, foundation, materials, etcetera.

Generally, Zoning and Land Use Recommendations as above restrict a homeowner’s property rights and impair a property owner’s economic freedom to use their property in a manner consistent with existing law, code and regulation and naturally raises fundamental questions:

Should we be concerned?

Yes and no.

Completing the floodwall and levee project may trigger a wave of development and redevelopment in Warfleigh. Some neighbors may find certain development and redevelopment projects desirable. Others may find the same redevelopment projects undesirable.  Nevertheless, in both cases Warfleigh residents have the opportunity to either oppose or support development and redevelopment projects by participating in the public hearing and comment process provided by current law, code and regulation.

More fundamentally, the WNA’s long standing lack of transparency is an issue it must address. Generally, any time the WNA meets to discuss public affairs and policy issues that affect Warfleigh residents – and especially their property rights – at a minimum it must widely notice such meetings, make agendas available for such meetings and provide minutes for such meetings.  The WNA’s willingness to meet and discuss such matters without notice, agenda and minutes is both alarming and chilling.  The WNA suggests it should be excused or forgiven for this lack of transparency because it is fledgling volunteer organization that struggles with resources. And indeed that is true. Nevertheless, if the WNA cannot even fulfill basic functions regarding transparency and openness because it is a fledgling, volunteer organization, then the WNA certainly should not volunteer to act on my behalf (and without my notice) on a controversial public policy proposal that would restrict property rights.

Alternatively, the WNA’s inability to perform basic functions also suggests this initiative likely may fail.  The initiative requires strong transparency, a proposed methodology to seek and measure support, outreach, educational workshops, cataloguing and describing Warfleigh neighborhood assets and a statement of their significance, and the development of land use, zoning and design guidelines, among others.  If the WNA struggles to maintain a website and mailing list and post meetings notices, agendas, and minutes, then it may be likely it does not have the capacity to complete the tasks highlighted above.

Is there an easier, less controversial path forward?

Indeed.  The WNA should continue to build its capacity and form a “land use committee.” This committee would familiarize itself with all pertinent zoning and land use regulation including the Envision Broad Ripple Plan.  Then, on a case-by-case basis, stakeholders affected by development or redevelopment could ask the land use committee for guidance and support.  This support could include filing written comments and participating in public hearings.  Then, over time, if the committee gains stature and respect, it may be a vehicle through which individuals share development and redevelopment plans in advance, seeking comment, guidance and feedback.

Thanks all. Again, I share this note because otherwise many of you might not know of developments that may affect your rights, liberty, and pursuit of economic freedom (America the Beautiful plays in the background!)  Please reach out with any questions, comments, and concerns.  I would LOVE to hear what you think as I continue neighborhood advocacy.

Jim Polito

Winter 2021 Update

Hi all,

I hope this note finds you well.

Things seem to be moving a bit slowly with not too much new progress to report.

The Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction Project consists of three primary phases:

3A: From Kessler Boulevard to College Avenue,
3C: From College Avenue to approximately behind McDonald’s, and
3B: From Kessler Boulevard to Butler University.

The 3B phase consists of three segments (primarily for funding purposes):
3B(1): From Kessler Boulevard to the north edge of the Riviera property,
3B(2): From the north edge of the Riviera property to the water supply canal and flood gates, and
3B(3) From the water supply canal and flood gates to Butler University

Section 3B(1) is under City control.  The City has received a turnover letter from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) placing Sections 3A and 3C of the project under City control. The Corps currently is preparing the paperwork necessary to transfer to the City control of section 3B(2).

Work remaining on Section 3B(3) includes placing additional rebar steel in the roadway at 52nd street to increase structural integrity along the foundation of the flood wall crossing there, and testing for proper operation the passive, folding floodwall sections within Section 3B(3).  The Corps now works to develop a bid package soliciting proposals to complete this work.

Critical project steps remaining include completing the work above and completing for submission to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) by the Corps’ Levee Safety Section the final project Certification Report. The City’s project manager expects the above work to be completed in four (4) to six (6) months with final accreditation to occur within a neighborhood surrounding late 2021.  Again, the project manager indicates accreditation likely is a matter of when, and not if.

Generally, certification by the Corps and final FEMA accreditation of the project requires:

(1) Demonstration the project will not increase flood elevations along the project area and upstream. This requires computer modelling, the parameters of which must be agreed upon by both the Corps and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”). This work substantially is complete and under review by FEMA.

(2) A statement by the Corps to FEMA that the project meets all standards set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”) required for accreditation.

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

Jim Polito