Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said he’s received a big response from his surprise announcement Oct. 11 that the City of Carmel would construct an ice-skating rink on the site of the center green next to The Palladium. This is where the Carmel Farmers Market is held in the spring and summer.
The City has hired Rundell Ernstberger Associates to do the design work. Brainard said many questions can’t be answered yet because the planning process is still underway, but he did answer the following questions:
WHO WILL MANAGE THE ICE SKATING RINK?
Brainard said it hasn’t been decided yet, but it likely won’t be the Carmel Clay Parks Dept. It’s possible that the City streets department will have some labor involved for upkeep, and a nonprofit will be formed to help manage the area, especially the Christkindle marketplace surrounding the rink. The Christkindle marketplace comes from a Germanic tradition of setting up temporary storefronts to sell hand-made Christmas ornaments. Several cities, including Chicago, have offered something similar. Brainard said the nonprofit will manage the winter tenants, similar to the work done by the Carmel Farmers Market in the same space in the spring. Brainard said there will be a kiosk for skate rentals, and hot chocolate will be sold as well.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
The total project cost will be a little more than $5 million, including design. The city hasn’t signed any contracts yet.
WHEN WILL IT BE COMPLETE?
Brainard said the project should wrap up approximately a year from now. Construction should start in the summer and be complete by fall or winter. He said Nov. 1 might be a reasonable guess for an opening day. He said there will be a compressor to cool the ice so skating could possibly continue until March.
HOW WILL THIS AFFECT THE NEARBY CARMEL ICE SKADIUM?
Some people have noted that there’s already a small business within walking distance of The Palladium that offers indoor ice skating. Brainard said he doesn’t think this outdoor rink will hurt that business.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “Most of their time is for hockey. We have a meeting set. Maybe they can help us with the management.”
Brainard noted that an increase in interest in ice skating could actually help their business, pointing to the bike share program leading to more customers for stores that sell bicycles.
WILL THE CARMEL FARMERS MARKET BE AFFECTED?
Brainard said yes, but not in a negative way. He said there will be more space for Carmel Farmers Market vendors once the hard surface is in place. Carmel City Council President Ron Carter, founder of the farmers market, said there was initially some concern that construction could cut down on space for the market or cause it to relocate, but he said Brainard said flat out that the market won’t be harmed.
“I will take him at his word,” Carter said.