By Ann Marie Shambaugh
City Councilor Jeff Worrell hosted a town hall meeting for members of Carmel’s southwest district Nov. 1 at Woodbrook Elementary. He was joined by Mayor Jim Brainard and other city officials to address topics ranging from road construction projects to leaf removal options to school zone times.
Update on 116th Street/Gray Road
The intersection at 116th Street and Gray Road has been closed since late August for the construction of a roundabout. Brainard said he drove the roundabout for the first time shortly before the meeting and that construction will soon come to an end. He estimated the project will wrap up this month, making it the city’s 98th roundabout.
More Gray Road closures
The roundabout at 116th Street and Gray Road is set to open soon, but the intersections of Gray Road and 126th Street and 136th Street will close for roundabout construction in the springtime. Main Street will remain open during these closures, as will Hazel Dell Parkway to the east.
After those roundabouts open, the city plans to construct one at 116th Street and Hazel Dell Parkway before building one at Main Street and Gray Road. The goal is to have each intersection closed for 45 to 60 days.
With the city’s contract with Republic Services expiring at the end of the year, Brainard said Republic once again came in as the low bidder and that he expects it will be selected to provide trash pickup services once again. When the new contract begins, residents will not be able to opt-out of using their services and selecting their own.
Many residents have expressed a preference for Ray’s Trash Service, but Brainard said its bid came in 35 to 40 percent higher than Republic’s. He also said residents can contact the city or Republic to ask for containers that are smaller than the standard ones, and they can ask them to pick up trash at the door for those unable to take trash out to the curb.
One resident asked if the city has considered allowing residents to move fall leaves to the curbs where a leaf-vacuuming truck could pick them up, as is done in several other municipalities.
Brainard said the street commissioner will not allow this because of problems it can cause if a rain or freeze takes place before the leaves can be picked up.
“They go into the storm sewers, and it gets blocked,” he said. “Then we have a flood and somebody’s house is flooded.”
A resident asked about plans for the Merchants’ Square development at 116th and Keystone Parkway, observing that it had many vacancies and that the city has focused its efforts on other areas in recent years, such as City Center and the Arts & Design District.
Brainard said that the city has attempted to partner with Michigan-based developer Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust to update the area but that he hasn’t received a positive response from the them, adding that they are “at the bottom of the list” of developers in the area.
“They’ve lost business after business,” Brainard said.
Range Line Road and 116th Street
Brainard said that Kite Development is working on plans to redevelop the retail area at the southwest corner of 116th Street and Range Line Road. He said Kite has purposely not been renewing leases because it plans to tear down the existing building and replace it with a five-story structure.
MacKenzie River Pizza is expected to reopen in the new building, and other businesses in the area may as well. Brainard said he expects developers to move quickly.
“They have capital available, and they told us, ‘We have to deploy that capital pretty fast,’ so I think they’re ready to go,” he said.
With winter approaching, Brainard said that residents can contact the city’s code enforcement officers if neighbors are not keeping their sidewalks clear of snow.
City Council President Ron Carter said that the city is looking at setting aside funds to clear snow from pathways along major roads for those who wish to get outdoors and walk or run in winter.
School zone hours
One resident asked if the city had ever considered ending school zone hours at 4 p.m. to more closely align with school hours. Brainard said at one time they had an ordinance prepared to do just that until former city Judge Gail Bardach argued that between 4 and 7 p.m. is when children are outside, often returning to school campuses to play.
“It made some sense to have it go until 7 p.m., so the council voted it down and it hasn’t come back,” Brainard said.