A bill aimed at stopping construction on Kokomo’s baseball stadium passed the Indiana Senate Thursday.
SB 100, which gives the Indiana Department of Homeland Security the ability to issue a cease-and-desist order in certain circumstances, passed by a vote of 41-8. The House of Representatives must still approve the bill.
Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, filed the emergency legislation in an effort to resolve an ongoing dispute between the City of Kokomo, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.
Buck says the city’s decision to build the stadium on flood-prone parcels of land could result in the state losing millions of dollars in federal hazard mitigation grant funds. He says filing and passing the bill was the only solution.
“This is the first time this has ever happened for the state where a green space or open space has been violated like that,” Buck says. “But once the contractor kept going and spending more and more money — making it more and more difficult to remediate — we found that we were placed in the unpleasant position of also placing a cease and desist on the contractor and the subcontractor.”
Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight says no cease-and-desist order has been received yet, and he says the city has spoken with attorneys who have said the IDHS could ask for a cease-and-desist order without SB 100 being passed.
He also says the city was in contact with IDHS officials before the project started.
“There have been literally dozens of e-mails and correspondence taking place with them pre-construction and during construction — long before they had concerns about the parcels,” Goodnight says. “They approved documents. They have approved designs, and that was done last summer.”
Goodnight says the city has not continued construction on the parcels of land about which the IDHS has voiced concerns. He estimates there are five small parcels out of more than 100.
The IDHS sent Kokomo a letter in late November giving it 60 days to correct the situation.
Buck says the state has been waiting for a solution for six months.
“We have been given an edict from FEMA that places the entire state at risk,” he says. “I, along with Homeland Security and DNR, am not comfortable with extending deadlines while construction keeps going on that further exacerbates our ability to protect our tens of millions dollars in FEMA funds.”
But Goodnight says Buck has not been in contact with the city since December.
He says the city submitted a new design plan to FEMA but has not yet heard a response.