Carmel City Council pulls the plug on carousel project

Carmel carousel. (Provided Photo/City of Carmel)

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — The Carmel City Council removed a controversial carousel project that was originally part of a multimillion-dollar spending plan at their meeting Monday night.

The City of Carmel announced in July plans for two bond issues totaling $101 million to fund several roundabouts, pathway projects and other miscellaneous projects including a luxury hotel and carousel. The carousel and luxury hotel were part of one of those bond issues totaling $76 million.

Not long after that announcement, two petitions were created: one for and one against the carousel and luxury hotel. Those against the carousel have said private donors should be paying for the carousel, not taxpayers. Those for the project have said these type of projects are what make Carmel a tourist destination and a place people want to live.

Soon after that, the majority of council members told Mayor Jim Brainard they would oppose the plans for the carousel citing a lack of public enthusiasm for the project.

Then last week, the finance committee voted to move forward with the $76 million bond spending plan, with an amendment that strips the carousel from the bond package, according to Carmel City Council President Sue Finkam.

She noted the amount of feedback she had received from constituents about the project.

“I personally was really surprised about the amount of feedback I got. I anticipated that people would embrace the carousel as part of the package, but that’s the beauty of a public process, right, we presented at council in a public hearing we sent it to committee which are public meetings as well and we of course encourage all the feedback we can get,” she said.

And while the council could have approved the finance committee’s recommendation Monday night, the discussion about the carousel coming to Carmel is likely nowhere near done.

“I know the mayor is looking at other options to bring it to our community. We’re encouraging private support for that instead of tax dollars to get that done so I wouldn’t say it’s dead. And I appreciate the mayor’s desire to bring this to the community and it wouldn’t be Jim Brainard if he weren’t passionate about our place making in the city of Carmel so I anticipate as a proposal in some way shape or form,” Finkam said.

Nancy Heck, the director of community relation for the city of Carmel, confirmed Monday night that the council voted to move forward with the $71 million bond issue, which still includes the luxury hotel but lacks the carousel. The vote passed five-to-two.