Twenty-five people gathered Jan. 9 at the Nature Center in Holliday Park to express their opinions - mostly negative - at a public comment hearing held by the Department of Natural Resources. The hearing concerned waterway work commenced by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, filling in several acres of floodway to create a meadow. The work was undertaken before an application for a permit was made. Department of Natural Resources representative Marv Thompson explained that there was not yet a time frame for the decision. According to Thompson, an after-the-fact permit will be issued if the excavation does not unduly restrict waterway capacity, present an unreasonable hazard to safety of life or property or a detrimental effect on fish, wildlife or botanical resources. DNR also considers the cumulative effect of other projects. The act of filling in without a permit and only filing after the fact is not considered a violation, added Division of Water Assistant Director James Hebenstreit. A few spoke out in favor of the project, such as Warren Engel, who has lived near the museum for years. "I cannot see any material change. Seventy-five percent of the area is as it was 15 years ago. I can"t see that there"s any change that"s happened that"s going to cause a problem in the floodway." However, the majority of those present spoke out against it, including Laurie Olivier, who was concerned with the cumulative effect of waterway construction. "The history of White River development shows that the needs of the river have been ignored," Olivier said. "You can"t tell me they didn"t know they needed a permit to build in a floodway. I know I need a permit to build a shed in my backyard!" Clarke Kahlo, of Protect Our Rivers Now!, said, "Andy Warhol once said that "Art is what you can get away with." We could cite the "Art of Artifice" or the "Art of Arrogance," both of which capture the truth of the matter." Hebenstreit explained that the process has been smoothened by laws that took effect July 1, which imposed more severe penalties, but that guidelines for penalties had not yet been created. Also on hand at the meeting was Bret Waller, director emeritus of the IMA, who declined to comment. "We were here to listen, and that"s what we did," Waller said. Written comments can still be sent to the DNR. Comments should specify permit No. FW22116 and be directed to the DNR Division of Water, 403 N. Washington St., room W264, Indianapolis, IN, 46204.