Carmel city councilors request $60M bond prioritize Home Place improvements, not fund public art

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As the Carmel City Council’s finance committee on Jan. 27 discussed a proposed $60 million bond to fund several road projects, they made it clear that they believe improvements in Home Place should be a top priority and that the bond should not be used to fund public art.

The proposal includes $18 million for improvements in Home Place, including roundabouts at 96th Street and College Avenue, 106th Street and College Avenue and 106th Street and Westfield Boulevard. Plans also call for reconstruction of College Avenue between 96th and 106th streets into a boulevard, with a new roundabout planned at College Avenue and Pennsylvania Parkway as part of that project.

Other proposed projects outside of Home Place include reconstructing 3rd Ave. SW from Carmel Drive to Main Street and improving Smoky Row Road between Range Line Road and Old Meridian Street.

More than $65 million in projects have been proposed, which means unless several projects come in well under budget, not every project will be completed through the bond. Several councilors said they’d like to ensure the projects in Home Place, which Carmel annexed in 2018, would not be among those cut.

Mayor Jim Brainard

Mayor Jim Brainard

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said he agrees that the Home Place projects should be among the top priorities, in part because state law requires investment in annexed areas within three years, but also because “it’s the right thing to do.”

“I think it’s really simple,” Brainard said. “We say (to Home Place residents), ‘We’re going to spend some money in your neighborhood and try and make it better for you.’ We don’t want to see the character of Home Place change greatly, but we want to see some of the amenities enhanced to make it a better living experience.”

Brainard said future improvements planned for Home Place that are not part of the bond include transforming 106th Street into a boulevard between Pennsylvania Street and Westfield Boulevard and adding trails along major thoroughfares.

The mayor also said the city has been in discussions with property owners on three of the four corners at the intersection of 106th Street and College Avenue about redevelopment opportunities. He said he’s interested in working with the Carmel Redevelopment Commission to create a two- to three-story development that could serve as a neighborhood center within walking distance for many Home Place residents.

2020 Proposed Bond Project List

Project Name Project Description Total Project Costs
TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS
3rd Avenue – Carmel Drive to City Center Road Reconstruction $10,750,000
3rd Avenue – City Center to Main Street Road Reconstruction $4,450,000
Smoky Row Road – Old Meridian to Range Line Road Road Reconstruction / Bridge Construction $10,650,000
College Avenue – 96th Street to 106th Street 2 Lane Boulevard $7,500,000
106th and Westfield Blvd Roundabout 2 Lane Roundabout $3,185,000
96th and College Roundabout 2 Lane Roundabout $4,325,000
106th and College Roundabout 2 Lane Roundabout $3,125,000
2016 Projects $21,154,000
TOTAL IMPROVEMENTS $65,139,000

 

Several Home Place residents attended the meeting to provide feedback on the plans.

Home Place resident Jeff Maurer, who serves as president of the Lexington Farms homeowner’s association, said he would like to see additional details on the overall plan for the area.

“Having that transparency, that ability to narrate the larger picture, is going to go a long way to building trust and establishing trust with a part of the community that’s been historically disenfranchised,” Maurer said.

Matt Milam, a Home Place resident who led years of efforts against the annexation, said he’d like to see Home Place residents surveyed about their opinions before major changes are approved for the area.

“The people who have lived in Home Place for years do not have the same cares about Home Place as Mayor Brainard does,” he said. “The people of Home Place don’t need golden streets. We don’t need all the beautification that Carmel has always promised.”

The bond proposal also includes more than $21 million for projects originally planned to be funded through 2016 bonds, including roundabouts at 116th Street and AAA Way and Carmel Drive and AAA Way and completion of Duke transmission line burial on Veterans Way.

The finance committee is expected to continue discussing the bonds before sending it to the city council for a vote. The committee’s next meeting is planned for 5 p.m. Feb. 4, although an agenda for the meeting had not been released as of press time.

No funding for public art

In addition to requesting Home Place projects receive priority, committee members voted to amend the $60 million road improvement bond ordinance to state that the funds could not be used on public art, although landscaping would still be permitted. Basic landscaping is already included in the project cost estimates.

Aasen

Councilor Adam Aasen said Jan. 28 that he still believes the city should invest in public art, but he doesn’t believe it’s appropriate for the bond issuance.

“I’m not saying we should never do artwork at this time, but I think within these bonds and projects, I don’t think there’s the public appetite at this moment,” he said.

He also said funding artwork through the road bonds could create perception issues.

“People see that we bought this piece of artwork and they say, ‘Well, our sidewalk needs fixed,’ or, ‘It floods on this street.’ Sometimes it just sends the wrong message,” he said.

Carmel City Engineer Jeremy Kashman said the city has previously spent $1.9 million on eight sculptures that were included as part of landscaping costs at roundabouts.

DESCRIPTION COST
SCULPTURE – “HOME RUN” BY JORGE BLANCO (AT 126TH & HAZEL DELL ROUNDABOUT) $165,833.33
SCULPTURE – “KICK” BY JORGE BLANCO (AT MAIN & HAZEL DELL ROUNDABOUT) $165,833.33
SCULPTURE – “ON WHEELS” BY JORGE BLANCO (AT 116TH & HAZEL DELL ROUNDABOUT) $165,833.33
SCULPTURE – “BEACON BLOOM” BY ARLON BAYLISS (96TH & WESTFIELD ROUNDABOUT) $310,000.00
SCULPTURE – “STONE PAPER SCISSORS” BY KEVIN BOX (RAB AT 126TH & GRAY ROAD) $115,000.00
SCULPTURE – “GRACE, LOVE AND JOY” BY ARLON BAYLISS (RAB AT OLD MERIDIAN STREET & N. PENNSYLVANIA) $360,000.00
SCULPTURE – “HOMAGE TO HOAGY” BY ARLON BAYLISS (RAB AT 3RD AVE. SW AND CITY CENTER DRIVE) $428,167.00
SCULPTURE – “MORNING SUN” BY BRAD HOWE (RAB AT EXECUTIVE DRIVE AND RANGE LINE ROAD) $209,200.00
TOTAL $1,919,866.99

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