Constituent feedback leads city councilors to call for removing carousel from bond package

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By Ann Marie Shambaugh

Although a carousel is most often associated with children and fun, in Carmel that’s not been the case lately.

Several Carmel City Council members said Aug. 28 they do not support including $5 million for an antique carousel as part of a $101 million bond package after receiving overwhelmingly negative feedback about the idea.

“Constituents said they don’t want it at this time funded in this way, and I respect that,” City Council President Sue Finkam said. “One of our main roles is to listen, and I feel I’ve not gotten this much negative remonstrance regarding a project (before). That tells me something about where the community is at with this.”

Concerns from constituents ranged from the use of public money to fund a carousel to the proximity of other antique carousels in central Indiana, Finkam said.

Councilor Jeff Worrell described the project as “a cancer that needs to be cut out of this bond” at the Aug. 28 finance committee meeting. The bond also includes funding for roundabouts, incentives for a luxury hotel and multi-use paths.

“Even though a carousel may be a good idea, it was presented to the community in a way that it was taking on a life of its own and detracting from the good work that everybody’s trying to do,” Worrell said Aug. 30. “I just felt like I couldn’t support it. I heard from far too many constituents – reasonable, levelheaded residents – who were imploring me to not support this.”

Worrell said although he disagrees with Brainard on the issue, he appreciates the mayor bringing unique ideas to the council in an attempt to improve the city.

“I don’t want him to stop challenging us and bringing forth ideas and ways to help Carmel continue to grow,” Worrell said.

At the Aug. 28 meeting, councilor Bruce Kimball didn’t state how he would vote on using the bond to fund the carousel, but the following day he said he “probably won’t support it.” He said the carousel is a good idea for Carmel and hopes that another way can be found to bring it to the downtown area, perhaps through private funds or through a foundation.

“Main Streets are becoming entertainment centers,” Kimball said. “We don’t have a canal, we don’t have a river or a riverwalk. This could’ve been our canal.”

Brainard said he is disappointed by the councilors’ push to remove the carousel from the bond package.

“They’re doing their job,” he said. “They’re listening to the public in making decisions.”

Ron Carter, the only councilor who spoke in favor of keeping the carousel funded through the bond at the Aug. 28 meeting, declined to comment for this story.

Finkam said the finance committee could make an amendment to the bond package at its Sept. 13 meeting, or an amendment could be made at the Sept. 18 city council meeting. The council also could decide not to hold a vote to allow time to gather more information.

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