Last year, angry neighbors filled the chambers of the Carmel City Council to let everyone know that they were tired of the streets flooding on Emerson Road.
Councilors heard their call for action and $200,000 was moved from the city’s reserve account to immediately improve drainage in the area.
In addition, a new utility – called the Storm Water District – has been created to help deal with drainage issues all throughout Carmel, funded through a $5 per household fee that’s being collected this year.
Right now, City Engineer Jeremy Kashman, who also services as director of the Storm Water District, said they are working on the design phase of fixing the flooding issue on Emerson Road. Crossroad Engineers has been hired for that project. Kashman said he hopes work will begin in the summer. The city has only been authorized to spend up to $300,000 on the project, so that should get them through engineering and design, Kashman said. Additional money to pay for the project will likely be paid for through the household fees collected, he said.
A recent meeting of the Storm Water District board, which is comprised of city councilors, did not meet because there wasn’t a quorum, or enough members to hold a meeting. Kashman said he has a list of potential projects he was ready to share including Ralston Avenue and 121st Street on the Westside.
City council president Rick Sharp said he feels that part of town – located in the Johnson Addition just south of Main Street – has been ignored when it comes to infrastructure for many years and he’s happy to see the older neighborhood finally get fixed up. Although he notes that the money borrowed from the rainy day fund needs to be replaced. City councilor Luci Snyder said they found available money in the “Cum Cap Fund” and that was used to repay the reserves.
Brainard said he’s wanted to spend money on that for years but the council fought him on that. Sharp disagrees with that characterization.
“We stopped the blight that started to take place in the Arts & Design District and now we want to use our tax revenue to reinvest in this community which is why we are improving drainage in the area,” he said. “We don’t want to abandon these older neighborhoods. That’s why we spent so much effort on the Arts & Design District. There’s a lot of demand for these type of houses.”
Neighbors said they are happy that help is on the way.
“I am happy so far, but they haven’t really done anything yet,” resident Charlie Demler said. “I’ve seen them out there doing some planning and they tell me that they are still moving forward and if they fix the problem then I’ll be happy.”
Chuck Ford, a neighbor who is very involved in the Johnson Addition area, said he understands the problem isn’t going to be fixed overnight but he’s happy that the city has been working with them.
“We have had great communication with the city engineer and we’ve been out quite a bit,” he said. “I believe that they have a handle on it and I talk to people and tell them that the city obviously understands our problem and they are handling it.”