- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - Federal officials’ decision to suspend more than $6 million in funding for Indiana because of a dispute over a baseball stadium project in Kokomo is having a ripple effect in Fort Wayne.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced last week that it had suspended the hazard mitigation grants for Indiana because parts of the ballpark are being built in a flood-prone area that is supposed to remain green space.

The Journal Gazette reports (https://bit.ly/1GS35GB ) the grants include $1.1 million to buy and remove 18 houses in a flood-prone area of Fort Wayne.

Maumee River Basin Commission executive director Rodney Renkenberger said it’s frustrating to see one project put the rest of the state in a “precarious position.”

“It is a little disturbing to see that what’s going on (in Kokomo) is now turning around and impacting our area,” Renkenberger said.

FEMA said open space must be returned to up to eight parcels of land within the stadium project to be in compliance with grant regulations. FEMA grants were used to buy that land, the federal agency said.

Indiana said last week that it plans to take legal action against Kokomo after the funds were frozen, responding to a lawsuit the city field in January against the state Department of Homeland Security. State agency spokesman John Erickson said a baseball dugout was added to one of the parcels identified by FEMA, and that there was a “significant amount of fill dirt” added to some parcels.

Kokomo sued the state agency because it disputes FEMA’s determination, said Randy McKay, the city’s director of operations. The city wants an environmental judge to resolve compliance questions.

McKay said the city is committed to finishing the 4,000-seat stadium, which would be home to a team in the Prospect League. Construction on the eight parcels identified by FEMA was stopped in October, according to Kokomo city development specialist David Tharp.

The violations still existed as of last week, according to FEMA.

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Information from: The Journal Gazette, https://www.journalgazette.net

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