Acting in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) today announced that issues with the Kokomo baseball stadium have been brought into compliance with applicable federal laws and regulations.
The majority of issues have been resolved with eight restricted land parcels that were purchased with federal hazard mitigation funds. Any remaining issues have a credible remediation plan. Monitoring will continue to ensure final compliance.
“I am very pleased the situation could be resolved,” said Governor Mike Pence. “I commend the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security for working together in good faith.”
FEMA and IDHS directed the City of Kokomo to make a number of significant changes to the parcels, either by changing building plans or removing existing structures or other unallowable elements. An environmental study was also required. The City of Kokomo complied with the majority of these directions within the last 30 days.
"The City of Kokomo has stated for the last 10 months that a stadium would be built, and that the Kokomo Jackrabbits would be playing baseball in May 2015," said Beth A. Garrison, corporation counsel for the city of Kokomo. "Despite efforts by some to halt construction, the stadium is really coming together, opening day is tomorrow, and about 3,500 people will be in attendance. The city couldn’t be more excited!"
“This has been a long and avoidable situation," said IDHS Executive Director David Kane. “This is a reminder for other local governments that pre-approval for building and other changes on deed-protected properties purchased with federal mitigation funding is necessary to successfully own or manage them. If pre-approval is not secured, there can be expensive, time-consuming complications.” Eight parcels that are specified in City of Kokomo baseball stadium or peripheral plans were hazard mitigation properties that were acquired through FEMA-administered grant funding.
The dispute involving Kokomo Municipal Baseball Stadium first surfaced when it was discovered last year that Kokomo officials were constructing part of the new baseball stadium on parcels of land that had previously been purchased and deed-protected as undeveloped open space using federal hazard mitigation grant funding. In 2005, the City of Kokomo applied for and was granted FEMA funds to purchase the properties.
FEMA determined in late 2014 that parcels purchased with federal funds and being used in the Kokomo baseball stadium were not in compliance. As the grantee, IDHS has been working with the City of Kokomo to resolve compliance issues. There were questions concerning up to eight parcels.
On February 25, due to the unresolved issues with the parcels, FEMA suspended all of Indiana’s hazard mitigation grant program, which at the time had more than $6.1 million in unapproved projects. On May 8, FEMA granted IDHS’s appeal and reinstated all hazard mitigation grant awards to Indiana, with the exception of Kokomo, which is still not eligible for hazard mitigation funds or disaster funds related to the baseball stadium.
Kokomo and IDHS will separately address court proceedings pending in Marion County Environmental Court.