In the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for its flood control projects along the White River at the junction of the Warfleigh, Butler Tarkington and Rocky Ripple neighborhoods, the Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, identified the two approaches its engineers prefer to complete the project — both of which will exclude Rocky Ripple.
The plan also outlines more proposed tree clearing along existing levee sections to comply with federal engineering requirements — in total, about 7.5 acres described generally as "mature bottomland hardwood forest." In addition, the Corps proposed actions in the yet-to-completed section would clear between 5.5 and 9.6 acres. The city would be responsible for supplying the land required to mitigate these losses with new plantings.
The FEIS is available for review at Central Library and online at tinyurl.com/MidtownFloodPlans. In response to a request from the City of Indianapolis (the Corps' cost-share partner in the project), the Corps will extend the FEIS public comment period from its original closing date on July 8 through Sept. 6, though that decision will not be formalized until it is published in the Federal Register.
At an informational meeting the Butler Tarkington Neighborhood Association held Monday, residents voiced continued concerns about the Corps' proposed action. Issues include fears that Rocky Ripple will be excluded from the project's flood protections, and, if so, that property values and safety issues would result. (The Corps insists that it would not pursue a project that would endanger residents.) Other concerns focus on the effects the building levee-building project could have on Central Canal and Butler University's Holcomb Gardens.
"The Flood wall needs to protect Rocky Ripple, we need to help these people," Glenn Pratt, a retired engineer, said at Monday's meeting "We could be affecting these people's water supply."
Residents also expressed a desire for more active involvement from Mayor Greg Ballard.
"It's time to go to Mayor Greg Ballard and say it's time to talk to us like smart people, creative people, concerned people," a woman commented.
Before arriving at a final agreement, including federal and local financing commitments, the Corps expects city officials will submit an official response.
"Our path is laid out in the document," Carol Labashosky, a Corps public affairs specialist, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "There is discussion about the Rocky Ripple alternative (in the plan), however that was not our proposed action."
In response to a question about the likelihood of the Corps diverting from its proposed actions to fold Rocky Ripple into the plan, Labashosky said, "That's something the city has to answer."
As of Tuesday afternoon, city officials said they planned to hold more informational meetings in mid-August, but did not have much more to say except to note that they attended Monday's meeting and "are paying attention."- David Gurecki contributed to this report.