Clay Township plans to spend $60M to upgrade Carmel parks, fire department facilities

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Clay Township is planning to spend nearly $60 million to make various improvements to parks and public safety throughout Carmel.

Highlights of the Clay Township Impact Program include a new five-story building that will house the Carmel Fire Dept. administration offices and a museum, various upgrades at seven parks, a children’s pavilion at Coxhall Gardens and a multi-use indoor fieldhouse at the Carmel Dads’ Club’s Mark Badger Memorial Park.

The projects will be funded through bonds and are not expected to affect the tax rate, as the township is retiring debt that includes the Monon Community Center.

The Carmel City Council unanimously approved an interlocal agreement at a June 3 meeting that allows the township to issue debt to improve city-owned buildings, such as fire stations, which will be transferred to the Carmel Clay Municipal Building Corp. and be leased to the township and subleased to the city as the bonds are being paid.

The other projects have already been approved by the Clay Township Board of Trustees and are in various stages of implementation. All projects are expected to be complete by July 2022. Learn more about the projects at claytownshipimpact.com.

The following is an overview:

FIRE DEPARTMENT UPGRADES

A five-story building will be constructed around the existing Carmel Fire Buffs Museum at 210 Veterans Way. The first floor will be occupied by the museum and Survive Alive Village, an interactive experience that educates children about fire safety. The administrative offices will occupy the second floor. The building will also include space for community gatherings and events.

The Carmel City Council repealed a resolution approved in March 2015 that required the Carmel Redevelopment Commission to inform potential buyers that the Fireman’s Museum building must not be altered in any way.

Another township project will renovate Station 41. Built in 1987, the current CFD headquarters at 2 Civic Square will be fully gutted to provide living quarters comparable to those at some of Carmel’s newer stations. It will also receive a new roof.

Various improvement projects are planned at stations 42, 43 and 44.

PARK IMPROVEMENTS

The township will upgrade walking trails, lighting, playgrounds, aquatic features, restrooms and parking lots through various projects at seven parks. It will also add Wifi to allow officials to better monitor the parks and respond to issues.

Improvements include:

Meadlowlark Park – Upgrades to trails, playground and improved accessibility to the fishing area.

Carey Grove Park – Upgrades to playground, trails and potentially add a restroom facility.

Inlow Park – Upgrades to trails and splash park.

River Heritage Park – Upgrades to trails and improved access to the White River.

Flowing Well Park – Upgrades to parking lot and erosion control to stabilize creek banks.

West Park – Upgrades to the playground, splash pad, parking lot and more.

JAPANESE/CHINESE GARDEN EXPANSION

The township plans to expand the pond in the Japanese Garden behind Carmel City Hall to Carmel Drive and improve the Monon Trail to the west. Clay Township board member Matt Snyder said the improvements will make the area “a world-class international park.”

“This is going to be somewhere you can walk and enjoy the peaceful quietness of downtown Carmel next to City Hall and enjoy some of the ethnic influences Carmel has to share,” Snyder said.

BADGER PARK

The township plans to construct a multi-use, indoor fieldhouse at Mark Badger Memorial Park, which is owned by the Carmel Dads’ Club. The facility would allow for year-round activities and include an indoor synthetic field, locker rooms and sports courts.

“This has been something the dads’ club has tried to do for many, many years,” Snyder said.

Carmel City Councilor Ron Carter said he had concerns about this project, as it previously came before the city council and met resistance from nearby homeowners who were concerned about its size and potential impact on the area.

“We probably do need this for our community and for our athletic teams to continue to be the best in the state, … but it’s something that would fare much better in the center of the city,” Carter said, suggesting the township consider the site of the former Marsh at Merchants’ Square near 116th Street and Keystone Parkway.

Snyder said that he has received positive feedback from nearby residents regarding the fieldhouse.

“We’ve only heard supportive remarks,” Snyder said.

He also said the township is working with an engineering firm to conduct a comprehensive drainage study of Mark Badger Memorial Park and that any project on the land will include improvements.

“When this building is completed the drainage situation will be better than it’s ever been,” Snyder said.

111TH STREET CORRIDOR

Roundabouts are planned on 111th Street at Westfield Boulevard and College Avenue to provide easier and safer access to Central Park.

The township will also add a roundabout at the entrance to Central Park.

CHILDREN’S PAVILION

A large children’s pavilion is planned at Coxhall Gardens, a park owned and maintained by Hamilton County. The pavilion will provide shade, shelter and picnic tables for families to enjoy.

FIBER OPTIC RING

The township will expand a fiber optic ring to improve communications between public entities such as the fire department, township and Carmel Clay Schools. It should provide for uninterrupted communication during large-scale events or emergencies.

“Communication between our entities would stay secure,” Snyder said.

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