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FEMA halts work on new Kokomo ballpark

Kokomo JackrabbitsThe Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has halted work on a new Kokomo Jackrabbits (summer collegiate; Prospect League) ballpark, saying the ballpark plan doesn’t meed flood-mitigation goals set out as part of a financial grant.

A federal Hazard Mitigation Grant from FEMA was used as part of the $9-million financial backing for the new ballpark, set to open in 2015. The grand requires land adjoining Wildcat Creek to be kept as open green space for flood mitigation, but the current ballpark plan does not do that. As a result, FEMA has ordered a stop on ballpark construction until things are resolved. From WHIO:

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security sent a letter Nov. 24 giving the city 60 days to correct the situation. IDHS spokesman John Erickson said the agency is considering options to bring the site back into compliance.

“It’s supposed to be kept a green space, and right now, that’s not occurring,” Erickson said. “What’s at stake is millions of dollars in grant funds for the entire state.”

Mayor Greg Goodnight said the city has submitted a corrective action plan and is “very optimistic we’re going to reach a resolution to all of this.”

“We looked at it, and we think there’s a gray area,” Goodnight said. “The document itself talks about recreational use, it talks about to mitigate flooding. When we are done with this project, it will actually have more capacity to absorb flooding than was previously there. We think it’s a win for the community.”

But FEMA and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security say it’s not a gray area at all: “Some of the parcels being used for the baseball stadium are not being maintained according to the grant and applicable federal regulations,” the IDHS letter said. “The construction activity includes paved sidewalks, dugouts, a concourse, and the use of fill soil, but the open space requirements generally prohibit improvements such as walled buildings, paved roads and parking, and the use of off-site fill.”

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