Butler Tarkington gets 'Dear Neighbor' letter

Dateline: Tue 22 Feb 2011

Channel 13 (WTHR) first covered this issue, followed by Jon Murray at the Indianapolis Star. A thanks to Kelly Kennedy Bentley, for posting the original WTHR 13 link on Facebook.

The issue is big plans by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to erect a floodgate and a concrete wall (up to 6 feet high) along the Broad Ripple Canal; the area affected is Westfield Boulevard at Capitol Avenue (where the floodgate would be) to the Butler University campus. The wall would run along Westfield at Capitol toButler. Anyone who knows that area recalls there are houses on the south side of Westfield, and lovely views of nature on the north.

No question, the changes -- cutting down trees, affecting recreational activities along the canal, harming wildlife -- would have a huge effect on quality of life.

Maybe it smacks of NIMBYism, since I live in BT. But there are also larger issues at play -- mainly the power of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to decide when to roll with a project. There's also a financial factor, since the city -- that's us taxpayers -- will have to foot 25 percent of a $12 million price tag, according to Murray's reporting.

This weekend we received a "Dear Neighbor" letter from Neil Bloede, president of the Butler Tarkington Neighborhood Associatio, which states,

"BTNA believes the project in its current form will have a negative impact on the community and the overall use and enjoyment of the central canal."

Here's the part where you may want to weigh in:

"Public commens are due to the ...corps of engineers by March 4, 2011. (a week from this Friday).

"Written comments may be mailed to Wm. Michael Turner, CELRL-PM-P-E (Room 708), US Corps of Army Engineers, PO Box 59, Louisville, Ky. 40201-0059."

You also can email him at michael.turner@usace.army.mil or call 502-315-6900.

Bloede continues, "Canal access, beautiful views and hundreds of trees will be lost under the current proposal. Moreover, in the event of a catastrophic high water event, Rocky Ripple will be turned into a catch basin and sections of the central canal, whcih supplies 60 percent of fresh drinking water in Indianapolis, will be lost. We must act to encourage a reevaluation of this project."

Three years ago, a real estate agent told me the city was just waiting for Rocky Ripple to flood "and fill up like a toilet basin" in order to destroy the property there. Then the city would rush in, condemn it and build high-rise condos along the river -- so the agent said (his mom lived in Rocky Ripple, so maybe it was Rocky Ripple paranoia talking, but I don't think that was entirely it...)

This is a big deal. Hope you might feel persuaded to get involved.

Thanks for listening....






Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I've found that Rocky Ripple paranoia is often mixed with real Ripple. Just sayin'. RR is like Key West--its own world. Like The Conch Republic, I'm pretty sure there are some folks hiding out there who are nowhere on any official government rolls. It's a mindset in RR.

I sympathize greatly. But just what are government officials supposed to do about floodwaters?

2011-02-22 11:03:17

Nicolas [unverified] said:

Eugene McCarthy used to sarcastically refer to the Corps as America's greatest foreign threat. It shares resources between projects that are not needed, and those that are needed but badly planned and constructed.

2011-02-22 12:46:37

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

And when truly needed, they're late. Witness:

The shopping center on the southside of River Rd.-886th St., that houses Kohl's.

Ten or so years ago (15?), when it was being built, the landowner, a scoundrel named Soucie, had applied to the Corps for a permit to clear-cut most everything on the riverbank.

He pleaded ignorance while the app was pending, which was no short time, and one night, cut down everything that didn't move. Like Napalm in the Morning. Not a blade of grass left.

The Corps later responded: we'd have saved some trees for aesthetics and watershed preservation. The developer, George Broadbent, wasn't involved yet, but he quickly stepped in with Friends of White River and others, and preserved a canoe-launch ramp and some other natural assets.

The Corps was tardy and stupid then.
And they played footsie with the DNR on the whole issue for years.

Never met a fence they can't sit on.

Nonetheless, New Orleans aside, they do a decent job of flood preservation projects. The Rocky Ripple wall is supposed to be in that category. What are other solutions, if not this wall?

I ask sincerely, because my engeineering sense is, well...challenged.

But I have seen five or six floods there in 20 years. So the Corps, if properly-run, has a true mission there.

2011-02-22 13:22:31

Jason [unverified] said:

I think I'd have to see some idea of the finished product. I lived in the other (Broad) Ripple for a few years out of college, and it's always struck me as an area in search of an identity crisis.

We're like-minded on the engineering thing, TTT, but dangit, look at the area in which they'll be working.

I'm very surprised that between Rocky Ripple, Butler-Tarkington, and BRVA nobody spearheaded something more... artistically ambitious? The Broad Ripple Arts Center, IMHO, is a great example of a private project that's been very successful. I know government doesn't have the money (they never do!) but I don't even live there and I would've thrown a few of my own pennies in the trough for something that gave the neighborhood a little more personal appeal. I'm neither a landscape architect nor an engineer, but a wall strikes me as a wasted opportunity.

2011-02-22 17:54:16

ruthholl [Member] said:

We'll see how it shakes out.
Imagine, if Gene McCarthy had it in for the engineers, they must be very bad boys.
I know when Rocky Ripple rebuffed the engineers' plans, they were left out in the cold..and the wet.
But BT is a different animal.
Work in progress.

2011-02-22 19:34:12

hendy [Member] said:

I'd look to the N side of the Canal in two places, one where it starts, a project done a few years ago at the IWC site on Winthrop above BR Ave, then the White River project from College to Kessler on the S side of the White River following roughly River Road.

These were done by Bowen Engineering, an organization that I have a lot of respect for. They were done in minimus, in terms of trees lost and aesthetic damage.

My approach would be to organize now, so as to carry a big stick, but be sensible-- we're built on a swamp with tributaries and storm water is a HUGE problem around here.

I watched developers clearcut from Keystone to Castleton on what would become KY at the Xing and Clearwater (an oxymoron if there ever was one). Unbelievable natural habitat was lost for development there. It was one of the sadder days in my life as I watched the flora get pushed over like so much in weeds. I'm sympathetic, but there's a conservationist view that needs to be undertaken; you'll probably need to get third party analysis and understand the 100yr implications.

Yeah, TTT-- Conch Republic indeed.

2011-02-23 07:58:00

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

One-hundred-year floodplain used to the the COE baseline.

I don't live 'em, but they've done some good work.

They could also be the ideal merger of two conflicting ideas: engineers and military.

I have this mental image of guys walking around with site plans and rifles.

Turf wars abound.

Clearwater=oxymoronic. I gotta hand it to ya, you're absolutely right. But give it up for that developer, too. He worked with Friends of White River to make lemonade out of really rotten lemons.

The upshoot? Landowner Soucie got a slap on the wrist, and no fines whatsoever. He was a sly old fox.

So that moral must be: get out the chain saws at midnight. Beg for forgiveness instead of asking for permission.

Sometimes, childish behavior rules.

Oh yeah--I heard from a RR friend last night. He has some new stories about some returning/new residents of that little hamlet. This oughta be a miniseries. Hilarious.

2011-02-23 09:15:32

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

**LOVE not live

Oh hell live and love

2011-02-23 09:16:15

sjudge [unverified] said:

You really have to lay this turkey at the feet of the Rocky Ripple folks. In the old, old days, it consisted of just a few farms, which did pretty well because of the flooding and the sediments deposited there every couple of years. Living there, on the other hand, was an absolute challenge for the same reason.

The farms are gone, but a lot of descendants of those farmers still live there on properties no one else wanted. Those remnants of the past are pretty tough people, and they don't much care for government. You might remember that they fought being put on city water, even as their wells became contaminated. Those are the folks who opposed the original levee project.

Still, the area is changing. Its proximity to Butler has seen the addition of more than a few upscale homes. It's also experienced some changes in local government. As of now, those people seem pretty confident that they could get support for the original project.

It's not at all surprising that the Corps finally said something to the effect of "to hell with those looney's, let them flood." But, letting that happen while restricting access to the canal for the rest of us, nor is it worth the destruction of all vegetation fifteen feet on either side of the canal.

Veola made a lot of promises about the future of the canal, much of while the new and future owners currently offer lip serice. It's up to the folks of all the neighborhoods who currently get enjoyment from the canal to make it clear that this latest plan simply isn't going to happen, including the folks from Rocky Ripple.

2011-02-23 10:40:56

John Howard [unverified] said:


Suggests the wall will be as little as 1-3 feet tall except at Capitol Ave where it would be 6ft. (pg 3-6)

It beats me how they figure miles of concrete wall that destroys the natural surroundings is necessary. Why would it not be more sensible to raise the existing levee?

Sadly, the Corp expresses more concern for the bats than it does for the humans this will affect.

2011-02-23 17:08:35

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