Residents along White River fear losing homes to Indianapolis levee project

ROCKY RIPPLE, Ind. (WISH) — On May 10, the Rocky Ripple Town Council voted to give preliminary approval to the construction of a levee along the White River.

To make room for the project, 13 homes in the Marion County enclave of about 650 people could be demolished, and the residents will be relocated as part of eminent domain.

Shannon Killion, stormwater administrator for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works, said that the process “includes doing appraisals of their property, making an offer. The homeowners have the opportunity to counter that offer, but we will be following the state process.”

Officials say the decades-old levee won’t protect the town from a major flood.

“We knew there would be a flood wall. We had no idea homes would be taken,” said Emma Hudelson, who just moved into a home that could be demolished.

Hudelson and other residents say the town originally planned to build the levee without taking any homes. Those losing homes feel betrayed by the change of plans.

Killion said, “Due to many rising material costs, trying to have a project that’s affordable, we realized, as we have on many of our construction projects, that costs were quickly escalating.”

The estimated price tag of the project is $80 million. Construction is expected to start in 2023.

However, in an email to News 8, Mandy Redmond, president of the Rocky Ripple Town Council, said the plan is not final.

“We absolutely can still stop the project if this is the town’s decision because we have not yet signed a Project Cooperation Agreement with the city of Indy,” she said.

Redmond said the town will work with Public Works on the possibility of excluding homes from demolition.