The city of Indianapolis has extended hours of its greenways, including the Monon Trail, to allow users 24/7. Currently, greenways are open from 5 a.m. to midnight.
In Carmel, city officials said there isn’t any current action to open Carmel’s portions of the Monon Trail for 24/7 access but it’s been always part of the discussion for years.
In Indianapolis, riding the trail after dark can lead to a $50 fine, but it’s believed that most people are simply given a warning – if that. Indianapolis Parks and Recreation is considering changing the hours and even extended the hours to midnight recently, later than Carmel’s sundown rule. Advocates say extended trail hours could make it safer for people who decide to cycle home late at night.
City spokeswoman Nancy Heck previously said that Monon Greenway usage would not be extended because there’s a covenant in place with 250 property owners that limits usage from sunrise to sundown.
A covenant is a type of contract or agreement that goes with the land, no matter who the owner is. When Carmel bought residential property to extend the Monon north, these covenants were put in place and tied to the land. Although, covenants can often be broken by a judge if they see that they are never enforced, which is often the case with outdated covenants that no longer are applicable. Cities can sometimes find very old covenants tied to property that even restrict people of certain races from living there.
It can also be a matter of enforcing a covenant. Mayor Jim Brainard could issue an executive order so nobody enforces the restrictions on Monon Trail hours and it wouldn’t be challenged unless a homeowner decided to sue.
Brainard said people could likely see extended hours past sundown for commercial areas such as the Midtown project that will feature offices, apartments and restaurants along the Monon between the Carmel Arts & Design District and the Carmel City Center.
In the future, one could see a well-lit Monon Trail from parts of 116th Street all the way to Main Street someday.
Brainard said he wouldn’t necessarily propose lighting in quiet residential parts of the Monon. Even though many families choose to walk in the dark home because Carmel doesn’t have the late-night motorists and crime that parts of Indianapolis has.
“Carmel is a very safe place to walk at night,” Brainard said.