Good news washes up on MC flood plain
Hundreds of residents will save $500-$800
By Daniel Przybyla
LaPorte Herald-Argus (IN)
Published December 1st, 2004
MICHIGAN CITY — Construction will begin this month on
the $7 million-plus flood-control project that will save
some 500 homeowners from having to pay $500 to $800 a
year in flood insurance.
Tonn and Blank Inc. will soon begin the task of removing
500,000 cubic yards of dirt — 40,000 truckloads — from
the 47-acre site off Hitchcock Road that will be developed
into a 10-foot-deep wetland, complete with walking trails,
bridges, a gazebo, two picnic shelters and a pavilion.
In a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday afternoon, city
officials touted the Earl Road Flood Control Facility
as a project that has the practical benefit of removing
500 homeowners in two neighborhoods — Forest Manor and
Village Green — from a flood plain they have been a part
of since 1981.
The wetland, rather than the residential areas, will
now serve as the flood plain.
In addition to eliminating a required annual flood insurance
premium, the wetland will provide environmental and aesthetic
benefits, including recreational opportunities to residents
and academic opportunities to students, officials said.
More than 19,000 plants will be planted throughout the
wetland and 620 trees around its perimeter, said Dave
McCormick, managing engineer for Christopher D. Burke
“It’s just not a hole in the ground,” Michigan City Councilman
Ron Meer said.
Excess rainwater from the Striebel arm of the nearby
Kintzele Ditch will flow into the wetland at the southeast
end and will be carried along in a stream carved through
the wetland before emptying back into the ditch near the
northeast end. The water in the ditch eventually pours
into Lake Michigan.
But the huge area to detain storm water isn’t big enough
to hold water during the biggest rain events, officials
The wetland will be able to detain 250 acres of water
at 1 foot deep. McCormick said he could foresee it overflowing
into the ditch during heavy rainstorms. When that happens,
he said, wetland structures would make sure the water
runs slowly into the ditch.
The city has yet to purchase the remaining 20 acres on
the north end of the project, which will be acquired through
eminent domain. The 20 acres of the south end cost the
The design and engineering costs are $300,000, while
the construction price tag is $6.3 million. The entire
project is being paid mostly with riverboat funds.
A majority of the wetland construction will be done by
October 2005 and it should be entirely completed by spring
“This is a historic moment,” Village Green resident George
Neagu said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “We brought
a community voice to vocalizing our concerns and our desire
to maintain the beauty and charm of the area.”
Under former Michigan City Mayor Sheila Brillson, the
city designed a plan that essentially called for a hole
in the ground with a fence around it that would have sent
property values downward and heightened the presence of
West Nile virus, Neagu said.
But when Brillson heard about residents’ concerns, including
Neagu, who helped to form the Village Green flood committee
in 1999, momentum started building for a design that would
better enhance the neighborhood.
“I think without the community voice heard — and heard
loudly — I don’t think it would have gotten to this point
today. It took the voice of the community, 500 homes strong,
to make this happen,” Village Green Neighborhood Association
President Rob Eden said.