Looking ahead: 2016 to bring changes in roads, government, development
NEW CITY COUNCIL
The biggest change expected at the beginning of 2016 will be new elected officials joining the Carmel City Council.
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard endorsed a slate of seven candidates for council and a candidate for clerk-treasurer. All but one of his endorsed candidates won office, with incumbent councilor Carol Schleif defeating Brainard-endorsed Keith Griffin.
Often in 2015, Brainard saw legislation he supported die at the council level by a 4-3 vote. Three of those four votes – Eric Seidensticker, Luci Snyder and Rick Sharp – will no longer be in office. New councilors taking their place are Laura Campbell, Jeff Worrell and Bruce Kimball.
Brainard also saw his preferred candidate, Christine Pauley, defeat longtime incumbent Diana Cordray for the office of clerk-treasurer. Cordray and Brainard often disagreed on issues of municipal finance.
NEW ORDINANCES ON THE WAY
With a majority of Brainard-endorsed councilors taking office, it’s likely many ordinances will be introduced and passed right away in 2016.
Brainard has many items he’d like to check off his list, but he expected resistance from the previous council in 2015. He’s said that he expects to see a lot of action in January, including removing the stop sign at 126th Street and Auman Drive and turning Carmel into a second-class city, which would eliminate the elected clerk-treasurer position and replace it with a mayor appointee in four years.
There’s also talk of changing the rules when it comes to the city council’s oversight of the Carmel Redevelopment Commission. Some have also suggested there might be a bond issue proposed to help Carmel catch up on road projects.
The new year will be big for roundabouts in Carmel with the 100th one expected to be open early in the year at 116th Street and Gray Road. Other roundabouts include 116th and Hazel Dell Parkway, 126th and Gray Road, Main Street and Gray Road, 136th Street and Gray Road and 136th Street and Carey Road.
There’s also talk of obtaining City Council approval for several roundabouts along Range Line Road, including Carmel Drive and City Center Drive. The council in 2015 fought against the proposed roundabout at Range Line Road and Carmel Drive, but some of those councilors in opposition won’t be serving in 2016.
While many portions of U.S. 31 were completed in 2015, the majority of the rest of the project will be complete in 2016.
Construction on the I-465 interchange is underway and will continue through 2016. Traffic flow to and from I-465 will be free flowing with the new flyover ramp complete by the end of 2016. Construction on the 106th and 116th roundabouts will be ongoing with a 2016 completion date.
Several developments are underway in Carmel, with construction possibly complete in 2016.
Old Town Design Group has two projects that could be finished by late 2016: Green House Cottages, a retirement community at 1132 S. Range Line Rd., and Sunrise on the Monon, a selection of homes for purchase and rental at 9876 E. Westfield Blvd.
Olivia on Main, an apartment-and-retail building at Old Meridian and Main Street, should be finished in 2016. The first to be open will be The Seasons, which features more than 250 luxury rental units just north of the 96th Street roundabout on Westfield Boulevard. The Seasons is advertising that some units are already available for move-in.
CONSTRUCTION WAITING TO BEGIN
While many construction projects are already underway, some projects are looking to break ground in 2016, the biggest among them being the Midtown Project. Several mixed-use buildings for primarily office and retail are being developed by Old Town Properties between the Carmel City Center and the Carmel Arts & Design District.
To begin, the developer will likely present a proposal to the Carmel City Council to capture tax increment financing funds in order to repay a bond to build a parking garage. Once that’s out of the way, work will be underway to build a new home for Miller Auto Care and many existing buildings along Range Line will be demolished.
Construction could also begin soon for a public plaza for Sophia Square.
At the Carmel City Center, construction should begin in 2016 for a four-story parking structure with no less than 620 parking spaces, which will include up to approximately 28,000 square feet of commercial retail and office space.
Groundbreaking is also anticipated to happen in 2016 for the Chambers and Baldwin buildings of the phase two of the City Center.
The 2016 budget includes a property tax rate at 71.43 cents per $100 of assessed value, an increase from the 2015 rate of 70.07 cents. It was passed 5-2 by the council in 2015. Some outgoing councilors called the proposal a broken campaign promise by Brainard, but the mayor defended the adjustment, saying it was a minor amount, bringing the rates back to their previous level.
The first phase of Central Indiana’s mass transit expansion will include bus stations and some road expansions and is scheduled to begin construction in the spring of 2017.
For 2016, there will be public discussions, legislative decisions and lots of planning. In 2015, the Carmel City Council voted down $196,000 in money IndyGo’s Red Line mass transit system, but Mayor Jim Brainard says he expects the proposal to be reintroduced and passed in 2016.
On Jan. 25, the Carmel Dads Club will go before the Board of Zoning Appeals to argue for a proposed 74-foot structure for outdoor fields at the Carmel Dads Club on Main Street. This would exceed the current height limit of 35 feet.
In 2016, Carmel could also see some rezoning of property along Main Street in the Carmel Arts & Design District. One property owner tried in 2015 to have her residential property rezoned to commercial, but city officials said it would be better to rezone the entire block at once instead of just one property.
FIRE AND POLICE STATIONS
In July 2016, construction should be complete on a brand new building for Fire Station 44 5032 E. Main St., across from the Carmel Clay Schools Administration Building. The original building, constructed in 1980, was demolished in 2015 and construction on the $3.5 million project is underway.
In addition, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has suggested that Carmel’s police headquarters needs a makeover, with a proposed expansion that would include utilizing a nearby building to expand office space and also possibly move the city’s courtroom to a more secure space. It’s possible that a proposal could come forward in 2016 since Brainard mentioned the police headquarters expansion in his annual State of the City address.
PARK AND REC
Parks Director Mark Westermeier said probably the biggest addition for 2016 will be the opening of the Central Park West Commons playground area, which is expected to be open around Memorial Day. Located off of College Avenue, the area will feature playground equipment with a capacity of a couple hundred children, a spray ground for young ones and a community green with a shelter and pavilion for picnicking.
In addition, Carmel Clay Parks is going to hold community forums in 2016 to gather input about uses for 45 acres of undeveloped land at West Park.
In addition to mass transit, there are several other countywide issues that could come up in 2016. The Humane Society for Hamilton Co. is continuing to raise money to build a new larger shelter to support the entire county. There’s also some recent efforts among local agencies to try to create a domestic violence shelter in Hamilton Co., because under the current system, victims must stay in Marion or Madison County facilities. It’s also possible that the push for a countywide fire safety training will start up again in 2016, having been voted down this year.
ARTS & EVENTS
The Palladium has several big names booked for 2016, including Roseanne Cash on Jan. 8, Christian McBride on March 4, Michael Feinstein on March 5, Joshua Bell on March 13, Boyz II Men on March 24, the Oak Ridge Boys on April 23 and Paul Anka on May 20.
In addition, Carmel residents can look forward to the return of several annual events such as PorchFest, CarmelFest, Art of Wine, the International Arts Festival, Artomobilia and the Carmel Marathon.
Good news for Carmel as the BMW Championship will return to Crooked Stick in 2016. The 2012 BMW Championship, which was played at Crooked Stick, was named that year’s “Tournament of the Year” by the PGA TOUR, with Rory McIlroy as that year’s winner. The entire leaderboard was filled with stars such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott all finishing inside the top 10. The event will be held from Sept. 6 to 11.