Answering your carousel questions


Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has proposed that the city buy a 1907 antique carousel for up to $5 million, including land, a building and other costs. Here are some questions I’ve gotten from readers:

Are most people for or against the carousel?

This is hard to quantify. Of course, I’ve heard people say, “Everyone I talk to is against the carousel” or “Most people I talk to think it’s a good idea.” But that’s anecdotal and not a true poll. Often people surround themselves with people who share their opinions.

I will say this: Far more people have signed the petition against the carousel than the one that supports it. There were more Carmel residents speaking against the carousel at the Aug. 7 council meeting than those that were for it. And the comments I’ve seen on Facebook — whether on Current in Carmel’s page, other news sites or my personal page — have been mostly people against the idea of the carousel. Perhaps those in the opposition are more passionate and express themselves more frequently, but this is the information we have to go on.

I will also say that some supporters of Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard have contacted me to ask what I’ve been hearing and whether I think most people support or oppose the project. And Brainard himself told me that he thinks more people support the idea but they just don’t want to speak up. One person in the opposition told me that they thought Brainard is “out of touch” with how the residents actually feel.

In the end, I think the concern is that some longtime Brainard supporters, who campaigned vigorously for him in the past, have come out against this idea. I can name names, but I don’t want to call people out, so instead I’ll mention Ila Badger, a longtime Brainard supporter, who stood up publicly at the Aug. 7 meeting to express her concerns.

Who is the target audience for the carousel?

Often it has been mentioned that the carousel will appeal to families and children, but Brainard said he thinks history buffs will appreciate how unique and rare this particular carousel is. Although one person who opposes the carousel said to me that her 4-year-old daughter won’t care if the carousel is hand-carved and considered rare and valuable. She thinks a cheaper carousel could be purchased that would make children just as happy.

Is it a done deal?

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has negotiated a price and signed a purchase agreement, but he said it’s not a done deal. The Carmel City Council still needs to approve the deal

Will it be free?

No, there would be a small fee.

Could you ride it in the winter?

Yes, there would be a building surrounding the carousel.

Who would manage it?

A city employee would help, but Brainard is looking at starting a nonprofit to raise funds and help with upkeep. Similar to the ice skating rink, Carmel Clay Parks has no interest in taking over the carousel.

Why is it up for sale?

The amusement park where it is located is losing money, partially due to flooding and other reasons. As a result, the owner is motivated to sell this valuable commodity since there are many other rides in the park.

When could it be approved?

My guess is the soonest would be Aug. 21 at the next meeting of the Carmel City Council.

Will the council vote in favor?

Hard to say. I’m seeing the council slow down and take their time, but councilor Jeff Worrell told me he thought it was a good idea and several councilors were invited on a trip to Canada to see the carousel. It needs only four votes, and so my guess is it would pass.



  1. I’ve voted for Brainard for the last 3 terms. I even thought Rick Sharp (in the last election) was largely tilting at windmills. However, enough is a enough.

    The mayor has gotten very comfortable with his unchecked, cart blanche plans and spending. See Exhibit 1: Purchase agreement for Carousel, without approval for said carousel. Even the explanation I’ve seen for the hotel with the CRC and Pedcor is dubious. It’s a tired trope by now — hire outside consultant, pay them a lot of money, have them create a justification, go develop with dubious underpinnings on the back of taxpayers, facilitated by a hand-picked city council and then hand the project off to your hand-picked partner without a competitive bid. It’s legal corruption in plain sight.

    Has anybody stopped and asked how Mayor Brainard is going to retire from his meager $120K city government salary? It wouldn’t be beyond the pale to suggest that his comfy, cozy relationship with single vendors like Pedcor could be a little too chummy. Ahem.

    Perhaps even more urgent is the totally unnecessary hotel. I hope the carousel isn’t the give to get that forsakes the $5M, but the $38M slips by for the luxury hotel.

    At some point Mayor Brainard will realize that he works for the people, not the other way around and his spending whims do not a mandate make.

  2. If the merry-go-round costs “only” $2.25 million U.S. (according to, $2.75 million seems like a heck of a lot for moving, the land, and a building.
    But what does a dumb taxpayer know about gubmint expenditures?

    If folks want to go in circles without getting anywhere, Forest Park in Noblesville has a fine carousel that I’ve never seen used at full ridership.

  3. Larry Verrill on

    Have any of you filled out Councilwoman Sue Finkam’s questionair on facebook??? Apparently she has her own doubts about these projects. I did this a.m.

  4. The real question is whether “Brainardville” or “Brainardopilis” is picked as the new name for the suburb.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.