Rocky Ripple Horror Show

Dateline: Mon 27 Aug 2012

Last Thursday's meeting at Meridian Street United Methodist Church regarding the White River levee fix illustrated one point clearly: concerns have morphed from aesthetics -- worries about the loss of trees and threat to wildlife if a wall is built along the canal from Capitol to Butler University -- to a keen, principled awarenss that an entire community coiuld be washed away and the city's water supply compromised under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' short-sighted plan.

Still, it seems to be a standoff: Corps vs. people.  

Despite eloquent testimony from more than 30 Hoosiers representing neighborhood groups or simply speaking as individuals, and comments from some of the city's leading environmentalsts as well as politicians, Col. Luke Leonard of the Corps based in Louisville appeared to be unfazed.

There is no money, he said, for any other fix than the one the Corps has on the table -- which means, ignore Rocky Ripple and put the dike, or wall, along Westfield Blvd, on the south side. In the event of a 100 or 300-year flood, Rocky Ripple and its property will go under, and the White River will contaminate the historic Broad Ripple Canal. Since that water source provides 60 percent of Indy's drinking water, this is potentially a deadly serious business, even a disaster.

It's really hard to grasp why the Corps is so adamant. Butler Univeristy, the mayor of Indy, the water company and others already mentioned have all shared their concerns about the plans. Foremost of these, of course, is Rocky Ripple. 

Questions were raised about the lack of transperency in what the corps has drawn up -- cost/benefit ratios remain a mystery to those who have studied the documents -- but most of all, there was a sense of frustration that the Corps is being so short-sighted.

"It is the river that floods," explained activist Mary Walker, a Butler-Tarkington resident and member of the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhoods. "Therefore any (wall) should be placed where the flood would occur. The canal does not flood; the river floods." 

"You know what happens when you fight a war on the wrong front," said another neighbor. "Put the wall on the river where it is supposed to be, and we all support you!"

"First do no harm," was a mantra sounded repeatedly. 

Col. Leonard, standing on the altar in the sanctuary, listened respectively and looked at people as they spoke. He answered questions when they were put to him. But he remained, in my opinion, absolutely impassive.

 

 

Comments

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

As noted before, I'm still trying to wrap my brain around a pity party for Rocky Ripple. I'm getting there. Not yet, tho.

Still, I've dealt with the Army Corps before. You'd have to look far and wide to find a bigger bunch or arrogant assholes on the planet.

They cut a pretty wide swath. The whole White River/96th St. fiasco is really not resolved yet. A commercial development up there went the IDNR route after a Corps attempt failed, but the Corps and IDNR allegedly never talked to one another. Pride goeth before the fall. Turf goeth before pride.

2012-08-27 18:42:11

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

As noted before, I'm still trying to wrap my brain around a pity party for Rocky Ripple. I'm getting there. Not yet, tho.

Still, I've dealt with the Army Corps before. You'd have to look far and wide to find a bigger bunch or arrogant assholes on the planet.

They cut a pretty wide swath. The whole White River/96th St. fiasco is really not resolved yet. A commercial development up there went the IDNR route after a Corps attempt failed, but the Corps and IDNR allegedly never talked to one another. Pride goeth before the fall. Turf goeth before pride.

2012-08-27 18:42:15

Seneca [Member] said:

"I'm still trying to wrap my brain around a pity party for Rocky Ripple."

Same here.

Rocky Ripple had its chance and blew it. The citizens, in their wisdom, rejected the Corps' pleas. Now they are faced with the potential consequences of that ill-informed choice.

As was stated in the story in the Sunday Star a week ago, ". . . stupid."

"Col. Leonard, . . . remained . . . absolutely impassive."

Well, why shouldn't he be impassive? He has nothing in this.

Wonder how many tea baggers and their ilk infect, er, inhabit, Rocky Ripple?

2012-08-27 19:41:31

hendy [Member] said:

I'm not sure if it matters the political affiliation of the people in RR. Or if they're white, or black, or Catholic, or LDS, or whatever. They're people. They once rejected the Corp's plan, but we've had plentiful flooding.

Storm water mgmt is a huge concern as we take over cornfields, put in storm water drainage where it's never been done before, and generally remove the ability for the watershed to swell without causing homeowner flooding problems.

Monroe County now adds a storm water mgmt fee to property tax bills. In turn, investments into equipment that clean drains, and manages zoning engineering costs to ensure that areas aren't contributing to flooding occur.

Last year, the flood waters caused a huge swelling of Lake Monroe, more than I've ever seen. In 2008, my yard on Kessler was essentially under water, partially due to the storm water mess caused by poor planning in the neighborhood. Someone has to pay for all the work that needs to be done.

As TTT infers, getting people to not build in a flood plain that wasn't really a flood plain causes others much angst. Does RR need to live? Become like other parts of Indy that just cash in on flood insurance? Pollute the drinking water supply when their homes get washed into the Water Co Canal? All good questions.

If the Corps says: no budget, this is what political activism is for. Or insurance.

2012-08-27 23:57:47

Seneca [Member] said:

The political affiliation of the people of RR matters only in regard to the right wing, tea bagger mindset: that of disdain (hatred?) for the federal government and its agencies.

Interesting how people complain ad nauseam about governmental intrusion until they need that "intrusion."

Akin to senior citizens (I despise that term; "chronologically enhanced" is a better one, imho) complaining about "too much government" in one breath and in the next yelling "keep your hands off my Social Security and Medicare."

And I trust the federal government far more than I trust the state government. The late Harrison J. Ullmann (Nuvo) was right when he called it the "worst state legislature in the country."

Although a few other states now qualify for the "honor," Ullmann was right then, and now.

That is the point I was trying to make (admittedly, not too well).

And keep your hands off my Social Security and Medicare.

This chronologcially enhanced citizen now ends his rant (for now).

2012-08-28 09:09:47

Seneca [Member] said:

As always, I am very grateful to Ruth and ghiotion for the privilege and opportunity to, well, rant. It is priceless.

Thank you.

2012-08-28 09:17:07

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

At this point of "planning," it was folly to believe the Corps would alter theirs.

The only option for RR is enhanced flood insurance they organize themselves through a cooperative business model.

2012-08-29 10:38:04

RR-Resident [unverified] said:

I'm always intrigued when I read comments from people who do not live in Rocky Ripple. Perceptions -- albeit incorrect -- can be quite powerful in guiding -- or misguiding -- opinions. Like most communities, we are a diverse and eclectic neighborhood comprised of people from many political persuasions. Outsiders are quick to point to the 1996 straw poll with a 10-vote margin as the defining moment of Rocky Ripple's opposition to flood protection. The reality is that a very small group of people lobbied vigorously in opposition of the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) project and in the process alienated many in the City and the ACE. That was unfortunate as the rest of us -- many of whom did not live in Rocky Ripple in 1996 -- suffer the consequences of that short-sighted decision. Remember, 50 percent of the community DID want flood protection.

Rocky Ripple is not alone. The ACE's post-Katrina standards could also erase Zoar, Ohio, from the map (see http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/us/aging-levee-puts-village-of-zoar-ohio-on-endangered-list.html?_r=1).

The reality is that we do live in a flood plain, the City of Indianapolis has continued to allow development in Rocky Ripple as well as upstream from Rocky Ripple. Communities upstream have been permitted by municipalities to construct projects such as shopping centers and parking lots that have increased high water events down stream from them which has led to erosion of Rocky Ripple's levee (note the earthen island just down stream of Rocky Ripple).

Our property taxes were recently artificially deflated -- perhaps to justify to the ACE that we're not worth saving? And through mid 2011, Rocky Ripple residents were promised sewers from the City of Indianapolis -- only months before the project was to go out for bidding, residents were told that they had been bumped from the schedule.

That's my two or three cents. If you want to learn more about Rocky Ripple, attend the art festival on September 29 (http://rockyripple.org/) and talk with a resident or two or three--get to know us--you might be pleasantly surprised that we are not who you think we are. And please don't confuse us with Ravenswood--another fine, equally diverse and eclectic, community upstream from Rocky Ripple.

2012-08-29 21:58:11

RR-Resident [unverified] said:

BTW, Thank you, Ruth, for your continued interest and coverage of this story.

2012-08-29 22:08:57

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

RR Resident, I meant to slight. I know some folks in Rocky Ripple. I love the area.

And if a permit from the Dept. of Metropolitan Development is the standard here, we're all screwed. They have given permits on property that contradicted recorded (and hard-fought) commitments than ran with the land. Poof. Gone.

There has always been a "can't be so" attitude about the 25th floor dictating DMD permits. All mayors--from both parties--deny it. And the head guy at DMD is honorable, hard-working, sound.

But some of the nuttiest God-damned stuff has come out of that agency ion recent years. After neighborhood groups have spent thousands of hours to get commitments, they're dismissed or overlooked.

All of which is a way of saying, dear RRR, that whatever permits might have been issued, nobody whose every bought there can legitimately claim ignorance about the flood plain status.

A few remodel permits don't change the landscape that much. RR is below flood level. Plainly and simply. The resident there rejected ACE help several years ago--or at least they rejected the professionals' view.

So be it. As I once heard a neighbor mom say to her speeding-bicycle-riding son: "If you break your leg don't come running to me!"












2012-08-30 17:55:08

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Oops...big time goof, I mean NO slight.....

2012-09-01 18:15:10

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