“The future of our city is very bright”
Mayor sees growth in City Center, midtown and parks as well as roadway improvements contributing to Carmel’s progress
By Karen Kennedy
As 2013 comes to a close and we look ahead to 2014, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said he has a vision for the city in the year to come. In a nutshell, it’s more of the same.
Brainard said he feels strongly that many of his goals for Carmel were achieved over this past year, but he’s never done. His to-do list for 2014 already is long and detailed, and much of the work on it has already begun.
“We have made great strides in Carmel this year, particularly in the area of economic development,” Brainard said in an interview at City Hall. “With the addition to our local economy of national or regional headquarters from such companies as Geico, American Specialty Health, Allegion, NextGear, Polleo and Baldwin Lyons, we have not just brought jobs, but really good jobs to our town. And this is also good for our housing, our schools and our tax base.”
“Our Standard and Poor’s rating is ‘AA+,’ which is excellent, and Carmel has gotten a lot of great publicity over the last few years, which will continue to attract new and innovative businesses,” he said.
What else is on the mayor’s list for 2014? He would like to see improvements in just about every city department, as well as more projects coming down the pipe. Here’s what he had to say:
Police and fire departments
“I’d like to expand our neighborhood crime watches, and overall, continue our record as one of the safest places to live in the United States. We need to make improvements to a couple of our fire stations, and to our county 911. A better radio system is on the agenda for 2014.”
“We’ve talked a lot this year about the stormwater utility, and we have some problem areas we need to fix with that money; Bridlebourne and Crooked Stick, to name a few. And we need to replace some older mechanisms in our water distribution systems to correct pressure variances and increase capacity.”
“The dog park will be complete in 2014. We need to replace the wooden sidewalks. And we need to continue to expand the bike path/trail system.”
“Obviously, Pedcor’s plans for six more buildings in the City Center are very exciting. And several more developers have come forward who want to get involved in the midtown redevelopment plan. We could get a lot of infrastructure completed there by partnering with them. And developers are continuing to add more housing for all of the residents who are drawn to Carmel because they’re excited about what’s happening here.”
Other green initiatives
“We need to work with the city of Indianapolis to improve air quality all around, because what impacts them also impacts us. And we started a couple of years ago converting stoplights to LED, which saves the city a huge amount on our electric bill.”
Roads and infrastructure
“Carmel has put hundreds of millions of dollars into our infrastructure; more so than many cities in the United States. Our roundabouts put us at the leading edge of not only traffic flow management but green initiatives as well. But there is much more to do.”
Other 2014 developments
“I’d like to see more independently-owned, non-chain restaurants coming to Carmel. And I’d like to see even more art galleries come to our downtown. We can really be a destination for the arts scene. I’m excited about the new Porchfest festival, which will highlight local musicians and shine a spotlight on our downtown neighborhoods. And we will be releasing the final phases of our convention center feasibility study. We could fill a needed gap for a convention center with a capacity somewhere between 700 to 2,000 people. And we will continue top-notch programming at the Center for the Performing Arts, which draws people to our town from hundreds of miles away.”
When asked if he would have done anything differently over the past year, such as the administration of the Carmel Redevelopment Commission, the mayor stayed positive.
“Like any city, we’ve had our ups and downs, and we’re not all going to agree on everything. But we keep moving forward. In the late ’90s, Carmel didn’t even have a downtown. Look at it now; at how far we’ve come,” he said. “The future of our city, I feel, is very bright.”
Here’s the mayor’s list of what he’d like to see done by the end of 2014:
● Improvements to Range Line Road; widening it to make an extra lane between 136th Street and U.S. 31.
● Main Street finished between U.S. 31 and Old Meridian Street
● River Road turned into a 3-lane boulevard from Prairie Trace Elementary School to 146th Street
● Illinois Street completed, with roundabouts at 106th Street and Springmill Road
● Roundabouts on 116th Street Hazel Dell Parkway, Pennsylvania Street and Gray Road
New Year’s resolution
What’s on the mayor’s personal to-do list in terms of resolutions for the New Year? Much like the rest of us: “Eat better, get more exercise and lose 10 pounds,” he said.