MY FIRST FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

I filed my first Freedom of Information Act request – better known as an “FOIA”  request – asking for information about Thieme Drive and the City’s plans to destroy it.

I received a couple of calls from a city attorney to clarify a couple of items, but other than that, I haven’t heard about the materials I requested.  Of course, those who read my blog know how much I love this small, little corner of the world and how much I loathe the City’s attempts to tear down the river environment and erect an ugly, concrete wall.

As far as I am concerned, the City is responsible for the increased flooding in my area.  After the completion of an extensive wall that was erected to protect the Nebraska neighborhood from flooding, this area began to flood more frequently.  How do I know?  Well, I have lived here now for 14 years, and, since the 2001 completion of the Nebraska Wall, this small “cup” area has flooded five times in six years:  July 2003, June 2004, January 2005, February 2008, and March 2009.

Of course, the City personnel simply tell me I am not an engineer so I really have no understanding of river dynamics.  But I do have common sense, and common sense tells me that if you wall off water from spreading out in one area where it has typically gone, it will seek an open and lower level to spread out. Unfortunately, that is now my area.

The City keeps slapping up short-sighted flood measures such as berms, levees, and walls, and, with each one , it marches toward the destruction of Thieme Drive – an historical drive named after Fort Wayne entrepreneur Theodore Thieme, and which is probably the last river drive left in Fort Wayne.

So, I will see what I get from my first FOIA.  And, believe me, I will certainly let you know via my blog.

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About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Environment, Floods, Fort Wayne, St. Marys River, Thieme Drive, West Central Neighborhood and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to MY FIRST FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

  1. Iceironman says:

    Replace “city” with Government and you can see how a conservative feels on a national level.

    Replace “river” or “theime drive” with country or freedom and you will see how a conservative views government.

    On a natioal level I say get the hell out of GM, get out of healthcare, get out of Social Security, get out of my wallet. I would use a word like destroy when it comes to big government. You would use the word enhance or help or save.

    But on a local level you act as a conservative. You dont want the city saying “no you cant do that”, you dont want them to say yes to some and no to others.

    The walls that have caused more flooding in YOUR spot were built on the promise to protect others, and were built to “save” the localized environment where they were placed. But enviroments elsewhere will be destroyed. But for every action the government takes, generaly there is a loser left to fight a battle. The battle may be for lower taxes because someone has to pay for healtcare. It may be a fight for lower energy cost after coal is ditched. It may be to get my guns back after Sotomayor takes them. She believes taking guns would make the streets safer (and that it is not a right layed out in the constitution), I disagree. The govt would pick criminals as the winners and I, a law obieding citizen would lose.

    I dont mean to turn everything political, but what a quandary, you dont like the city taking over control, you know deep down, you and I know what is better for the environment and our rights. Those city folks want a legacy, just as presidents and politicians do. They make decisions that impact jobs and the environment everyday that we know are wrong. But how do we fight it when it gets too large?? We dont. We write blogs to express ourselves, but we dont kick the folks out who took our rights, they are safe because they take our money and use it for re-elections. Those politicians basicly write their own job review with the money pour back to them by shady deals. But if you will take inventory of your thoughts on local govt decisions and then broaden your outlook, I think you will know where I am coming from.

  2. Alec says:

    As a city employee I take issue with the picture you paint. City employees are NOT out to destroy or to ruin anything. The vast majority of city workers work everyday to make the city a better place to live for EVERYONE. Most (myself included) make less money than we could in the private sector because we are committed to public service.
    I am familiar with the Thieme Dr issue and I truly understand your frustration. You may remember I volunteered my personal time a couple of years ago to work with you and the neighborhood on possible solutions to the flooding issue. I’m not interested in getting into a long discussion on Thieme Dr, I just ask you to consider your words carefully and try to avoid villifying city employees en masse.

  3. Alec:

    I understand and accept your right to take issue with what I have said. Perhaps I should clarify about whom I am talking.

    You are right, many city employees are dedicated and hardworking. I know that from the ones who come to my corner during floods. I am referring to those who are at the top making the ultimate decisions – and even then, not all of them.

    I remember your volunteering for the charrette we conducted a couple of years ago. If you remember, we – you, the other employee and a number of us at the meeting – came up with a plan which you and another city employee took back to the City. Soil borings were done, and the City learned it would be too cost prohibitive to undertake the project and then suggested bringing in the Corps.

    The main reason the City passed on our West Central plan was due to the condition of the soil in this area – it is all fill dirt and the borings indicated that it would take drilling down 25 or 30 feet to even get to solid footing.

    I do apologize for my statements that seem to vilify all city employees. But I also think City personnel who are interviewed and are in a position to make statements to the media should also choose their words carefully. For instance, after this last flood, a TV station interviewed Dave Ross, and here is what he said.

    The city has been aware of the gradual erosion, and says plans to stop it were presented to the neighborhood over the years.

    “Nobody could really come to an agreement on they wanted for the flood stabilization, so the projects been dormant now for about a year,” said City of Fort Wayne Engineer David Ross.

    You know and I know that this isn’t true. In fact, the reason the stabilization project was dormant was due to a lack of federal funds which can be seen by going to the Section 14 Study on the Corps’ website.

    On another occasion at a meeting to discuss the Thieme Drive issue, the same official was asked what would happen if we didn’t want anything done? Would the City still provide flood fighting help? The response? “Well, I don’t know – we’ll just have to see.” To us at that meeting, it sounded like a threat – do what the City wants or you will find yourself without protection. So, while you are correct that I should carefully choose my words, I believe there are City personnel who should also do the same.

    I am frustrated because I see the continuous building of walls, levees, and berms as only ensuring the ultimate destruction of Thieme Drive. The City will simply say there is no alternative and go forward no matter what we want.

    I know you have read enough about Thieme drive and its historical nature to understand that this is simply not an easy case and it should not be subject to typical flood control solution of a wall, etc. Thieme Drive is one of the last, if not the last, river drive where you can actually see the river without climbing onto a wall or levee. We constantly talk about beautifying our rivers and cleaning them up for scenic purposes, but then we turn around and hide them.

  4. Andy says:

    I live about four houses up from Thieme Drive and live in a house built by Theodore Thieme. I am relatively new to the street, though (I’ve been here just over a year), and I’m still undecided about the issue. I do love my river view, but I am also not a fan of these temporary clay dykes used to block the flooding. I can barely drive my small car down Thieme, and it looks messy.

    Charlotte, I guess I am in the dark — the city says it’s going ahead to build a flood wall? Do you know yet if they have a timeline for this, or is that what you’re trying to find out in your FOIA request?

    Good luck to you — I’ve tried FOIA’ing a few things, and since I no longer work at a news service, it’s hard to get anywhere. If you aren’t successful, maybe you can get Frank Gray on it!

    -Andy Welfle

  5. Iceironman says:

    Why would anyone think they would get anywhere with FOIA???

  6. Andy W. says:

    @Iceironman

    Because that’s what it’s there for. Believe me, I’m as cynical as you are about navigating large bureaucracies and extracting information from them, but FOIA requests are still one of the best methods for doing just that, short of taking an official out for a beer and slipping some truth serum in his Newcastle.

  7. Norma says:

    Good luck getting your information. Lovely house. Look how many “engineers” and wise politicians over decades it took to create the flooding of New Orleans.

  8. Bob says:

    Guess it must be unusual, but we were able to get info with the FOIA from IDEM-one might think that would be the same as getting blood from a turnip. We had to go there and wait to have it copied, etc….

  9. Andy:

    I have lived here now for 14 years this past January. I can tell you that before the wall was built to protect the Nebraska neighborhood, this area flooded once in 8 years. That was 1997, I believe, and it wasn’t severe.

    After the wall was finished in 2001, we began flooding – starting in July 2003. Since July 2003, we have flooded 5 times in 6 years. Does it get old? Absolutely? Is it discouraging? All the time. If you look at my front yard, I have remnants of huge tire tracks from loaders, etc. from different floods.

    But this drive is historical in nature and is protected by the National Registry and our local registry. It is one – if not the only one – where we still have a river view. Drive around our City and you will see – no you won’t see – our rivers unless you are crossing a bridge or on top of a levee, berm, or wall.

    I hope to find out a time line from the FOIA request; however, keep in mind that the City can argue exceptions to release of information. I will just have to wait and see what I get.

  10. Norma:

    Thanks – I love my home and the area in which I live. I bought it because it was on a river, and I have a little “country” in front of me.

    New Orleans is a classic case of the Corps doing what it wanted and engineers destroying the area around New Orleans that could have acted as a buffer. If you look at Google pictures, you can see the destruction of the protective environment at the mouth of the Mississippi.

    All along the Mississippi, the Corps thought it knew what was best. And, it didn’t. Humans seem to think that we can control everything, but there are some forces bigger than us and that includes nature.

  11. Bob:

    I think I will get most of what I want. I did get a call yesterday that the documents are ready to inspect. I will set up an appointment to inspect the items and then let them know what I want copied.

    You certainly are dedicated to go to Indy to get copies of documents. I know sometimes I see notices of IDEM doing something, but it requires traveling to Indy to go to hearings, etc.

    I work five days a week. I wish they would have their hearings in different areas of the state so it would be easier for the rest of us who don’t live in Indy to attend.

  12. Ice:

    Believe me, if I don’t get what I want with the FOIA, I do have an alternate plan. I intend to fight for the best solution for Thieme Drive and the St. Marys River here in my little part of the world.

    I know that something has to be done – the City has virtually assured that with the constant construction of walls, etc. upstream. Now there is a one-mile long stretch to protect the Woodhurst addition. In addition to that recently complete stretch, two more are going up: one in the Park-Thomspon area and one on Winchester Road.

  13. Suzy says:

    Anyone out there interested in the State blvd project? The City is conducting a charette, so they say, on 9/30/09 at the downtown library at 5:30. Please come and invite your friends and neighbors. We residents of the area around the State project could use some moral support from those who have been through this sort of process (battle) in the past. I hope the charette is not a charade, but I’m not holding my breath. How did your Thieme Drive charette go?

  14. MarkRight says:

    Interesting post as for me. It would be great to read more about that topic.

  15. WILLIAM P. GRABLE says:

    I AM INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT IF ANDY THIEME WAS RELATED TO THEODORE THIEME. ANDY AND OLGA THIEME LIVED ON PERRY STREET AND HE WORKED AT THE KNITTING MILL. THEY WERE OUR NEIGHBORS DURING THE 40s and 50s.

    HELEN C. OGDEN-GRABLE

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