KOKOMO, Ind. (Feb. 27, 2015) - A baseball stadium in Kokomo is behind a dispute that has halted millions of dollars in federal FEMA funding to Indiana. FEMA requested the city change their plans to build a stadium on a flood plain next to Wildcat River. According to FEMA, after Kokomo refused, they cut millions in funding dollars to hazard mitigation grants across the state.
“Yeah, it’s flooded there before, for sure,” Jim Shirley’s back yard sits right in right field, at the site of the future Kokomo municipal baseball stadium.
The property is adjacent to the Wildcat River and is prone to flooding. FEMA told the city months ago that they had to build somewhere else.
The stadium though, according to FEMA, is still not under compliance. As a result, FEMA has pulled at least $6 million from hazard mitigation funding for projects across Indiana.
A statement given by Kokomo officials reads in part:
“We firmly dispute FEMA’s assertions that the eight parcels in question are not in compliance. We believe that the redesign plans are fully compliant with the deed restrictions placed on the parcels... This political and bureaucratic interference may cause a delay, but we are committed to completing Kokomo Municipal Stadium."
“As this goes on, until those parcels are in compliance according to FEMA, they will continue to withhold money,” said John Erickson, the Director of Public Information for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS).
IDHS is the group responsible for managing FEMA funds in Indiana. Officials with the department have announced, projects like a tornado safe room at a school in Washington County, will have to wait due to the halted FEMA funding.
Kokomo has sued the department of homeland security for inhibiting their project.
“We tried to work with them. We’d certainly be open to that at this point although it seems like we’re going to court,” said Erickson.
For now, construction continues on the stadium. Whether or not it gets completed will likely be determined by a judge.