Last month, Carmel Clay Parks Director Mark Westermeier said it was likely free access would soon end for the indoor walking track at the Monon Community Center. The decision was due to an expansion of the fitness area and because people were using the track entrance turnstile to sneak into the fitness area without paying for membership.
Due to an outpour of feedback from the community, Westermeier said Carmel Clay Parks will rethink this move and instead try to find a way to continue allowing free usage.
“I’m heard from enough members of the public to understand that it’s a problem for them so we’ll be working on a program to allow for free usage,” he said.
Westermeier said it would be limited to Carmel residents only and there would be some sort of sign-up system or a pass instead of just being able to show up and use it, which is the current system. He said the new system is still being developed.
The move comes as Carmel Clay Parks plans to spend about $1 million to update the Monon Community Center. More than $200,000 will be spent on new fitness equipment and there was a plan to put some equipment in the four corners of the indoor running track which overlooks the basketball courts.
There will also be some construction to rework the entry points of the Center, which would have affected track usage for non-members, Westermeier said.
“We met with the architects to do a walk-through and we listened to the public input and we want to continue to meet the needs of the residents,” he said. “It’s a challenge but we will work through it.”
City Councilor Jeff Worrell said many residents came to him with concerns about the parks department’s decision. He said he’s happy with Westermeier’s decision to explore ways to keep it free for Carmel residents.
“People wanted to know if all possibilities were explored and I was on the park board when the building was first constructed and I always thought there was an unwritten promise that there might be some amenities that don’t cost anything, like the track,” Worrell said. “I’m happy we worked this out.”