Butler backs Rocky Ripple

The signs all over read: Save Our Homes. We Are Indy. Don’t Cripple the Ripple.

Rocky Ripple is battling the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ plan for a 4-foot-tall, 8,200-foot-long floodwall that would exclude the neighborhood from protection.

New to the list of opposing parties are Butler University and the Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association.

Cosmetic concerns, concerns about the environment and restricted access along the White River Canal prompted the Butler community’s opposition.

The floodwall will cut through Holcomb Gardens and require the clearing of some trees and vegetation.

“The university requests the Corps consider alternative options that would not impact historic Holcomb Gardens,” said Ben Hunter, chief of staff and executive director of public safety.

Hunter officially declared the university’s opposition to the Army Corps of Engineers’ plan last week.

“We are trying now to talk to the Corps about the value of the land and why it wouldn’t make sense  (for the floodwall) to be built where it was proposed,” Hunter said.

Holcomb Gardens is a common running route for some Butler students, including sophomore arts administration major Haley Baas.

“I run through Holcomb Gardens every day,” Baas said. “It’s such a pretty area. But if they put up a wall through it and cut down the trees, it will take away the beauty.”

Not only are people concerned about the wall’s aesthetic effect, they are also concerned about protection.

“The plan for the wall as of right now will put Holcomb Gardens and Rocky Ripple neighborhood in the line of danger,” Hunter said. “We’re not the ones leading the charge, but we do want to help the neighborhood of Rocky Ripple.

“Many students live there, so the university stands ready to assist them and the Corps to help find a compromise.”

The Rocky Ripple community has held multiple demonstrations, including an enactment in which 700 people laid on the streets “displaced” to show the possible effects of a flood.

One resident leading the charge is Zorba Rose, a 12-year Rocky Ripple homeowner and Butler alumna.

“The main goal for my neighbors and myself is to be included in the renovations and, in turn, receive flood protection,” Rose said. “We are all unified in this. We don’t want homes to be destroyed.”

The Army Corps of Engineers agreed at a meeting last week to extend the start of the project for another 30 days. During that time, those in opposition to the current plan may send letters to the Corps.

“The number one thing people can do at this point is write letters,” Rose said. “It’s really the only thing you can do.”

“Butler plans on writing to the Corps to try to explain our position from a more technical side,” Hunter said. “The residents of Rocky Ripple are very emotionally invested, and rightly so. Their homes are at stake. But we want to appeal to the Corps in their own language.”

The Corps claims that the already $14 million project will require an additional $35 million to avoid Holcomb Gardens and protect Rocky Ripple.

“There has to be an alternative,” Rose said. “I mean, these guys built the Panama Canal. They can definitely get creative with a flood wall.”

Anyone interested may contact the Corps at P.O. Box 59, Louisville, KY 40201-0059, during the extension period.

“We are so grateful for Butler and all they’ve been doing to help our efforts,” Rose said. “They’ve been nothing but wonderful. They are very good people.”

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