Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. told listeners on his WJOB radio show Friday that Gov. Mitch Daniels should get bounced from the Statehouse if the Little Calumet River levee project doesn't get funded by the legislature this year.
The levee is designed to protect Highland and other areas from flooding. Right now Highland residents have to pay for flood insurance on their homes due to being listed by the Army Corps of Engineers as living in a flood plain. Once the levee is completed the Army Corps of Engineers can be petitioned to remove the determination that Highland is in a flood plain, and if accepted residents will no longer have to pay extra for flood insurance.
According to the The Times (nwi.com) in an article by Charles F. Haber on February 27, 2006:
The overall project involves rebuilding the levee along both banks from I-65 to the Illinois border. After starting at I-65 a number of years ago, the work has been completed through Gary up to Cline Avenue.
The Times article continued:
When a significant portion of the project is done, the Army Corps will be petitioned to revise the flood map, Wszolek said. When this happens, about 2,500 properties on the north end of Highland are expected to become eligible to pull the plug on their flood insurance, he said.
In the past, Gardner [executive director of the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission] has said the entire town must be protected by the new levee before even one home can be removed from the flood plain designation.
The Highland stretch of the project will run in three phases: from Cline Avenue to Liable Road, from Liable to Kennedy Avenue, and from Kennedy to the Norfolk & Southern Railroad tracks. Officials have said the three phases may not necessarily be performed in that same sequence.
The Post-Tribune article continued:
McDermott was quick to say he called for Daniels' impeachment in jest.
"It's not like we're seeking to have him removed from office," McDermott said.
But McDermott did say the General Assembly must find adequate funding to complete the Little Calumet levee project this spring.
Daniels' proposed two-year budget includes just $2 million for the levees, far below the $13 million estimated tab to complete the work.
"If they can't find the funding by the end of the session, they've lost all credibility with the people of Northwest Indiana, and the governor, for failure to take a leadership position on that issue, should be impeached," McDermott said.
Speaking to reporters Friday, Daniels called the cost of the levees "a moving target," but said he hopes the legislature can find the cash to complete the work.
"I hope we'll finally get a number that's reliable and a plan for finishing it. It's a very important project, as we saw, regrettably, again this summer," Daniels said.