The new year will usher in a new era in Carmel, as it will finally be structured like a second-class city with an expanded council and other changes. The newly elected council features the city’s first elected Democrat, and the party wants to make gains on the state and national level in the November elections.
The year also will feature new developments, road construction and changes to Carmel parks and schools.
NEW CITY COUNCIL
On Jan. 1, Carmel will finally look like a second-class city.
The city council voted in January 2016 to become a second-class city, and it has spent the past several years preparing for the most obvious change: two additional city council positions (one at-large and one representing a district).
New city councilors sworn into office in late December are Miles Nelson, representing the West District; Adam Aasen, representing the Southeast District; and Tim Hannon, representing the city at-large.
Nelson is the first Democrat elected to the council in Carmel’s history. Brainard, a Republican who has served as Carmel’s mayor since 1996, said he is eager to work with the new council.
“I’m anxious to work with everyone who was elected and focus on city issues and continue to try and make Carmel a better place,” he said. “I like everyone who’s been elected, and I look forward to working with them.”
Becoming a second-class city also led to the elimination of the clerk-treasurer position. It will be replaced with an elected clerk and appointed city controller. Sue Wolfgang will begin her term as clerk and Ann Bingman will become controller Jan. 1.
STATE, NATIONAL ELECTIONS
The 2020 new year will include elections for state and national offices, and with the presidential race on the ballot, voter turnout is expected to be high.
A crowded field has emerged in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks in Indiana’s 5th District, with multiple candidates running in the Republican and Democratic primaries. Brooks will retire when her term expires at the end of 2020.
Republicans in the race are pastor Micah Beckwith, Indiana State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, fund accountant Danny Niederberger, former Bureau of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Kent Abernathy, nurse and farmer Beth Henderson, pediatric doctor Chuck Dietzen, accountant and attorney Matthew Hook, and former State Rep. Steve Braun, who has suspended his campaign for health reasons. Democrats are attorney Andy Jacobs, businesswoman Dee Thornton, scientist Jennifer Christie and former State Rep. Christina Hale. Independent Ken Tucker also has announced his candidacy.
The City of Carmel originally announced that it expected to select a developer and design plan for Lot One, 1.7 acres on the northeast corner of Main Street and Range Line Road, by June 1, but an announcement had not been made by the end of the year.
“The (Carmel Redevelopment Commission) picked one of the developers, and they have been in discussions with that one,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said. “If they fail with that particular developer, they’ll move on to a different one. You don’t want to have two or three simultaneous discussion going on at one time.”
The CRC received eight responses to its request for proposals for the project. Each proposal included a public/private parking garage, 37,000 to 110,000 square feet of office or retail space and multi-family dwellings.
The new development also will include space for PNC Bank, which is currently on the land and plans to maintain a presence during construction. PNC sold 1.2 acres of the site to Carmel for $2.5 million in December 2018 after Carmel filed a condemnation lawsuit to use eminent domain to acquire the property in August 2018. The city withdrew the lawsuit after the CRC and PNC reached a deal.
Brainard said the city is working to make sure it selects a plan that will best serve Carmel long-term, not one that can be pulled together most quickly.
“It’s important to get it right and not rush to put a deal together,” he said. “Those buildings are going to be there for 100 years or more.”
After 18 months of construction, the much-anticipated roundabout interchange at 96th Street and Keystone Parkway is substantially complete. The city was set to celebrate the project finishing on time – by the end of 2019 – with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Dec. 30.
Some final details will be completed in the winter months and when the weather warms up, such as applying a final layer of asphalt, permanent pavement markings, landscape features and painting of the bridge.
Other road projects planned for 2020 include roundabouts at 116th Street and College Avenue and Guilford Road, 96th Street and Haverstick Road, and 111th Street at Westfield Boulevard and Lexington Drive.
Carmel residents will see their tax bills rise starting Jan. 1.
With the approval of Carmel Clay Schools’ school safety referendum, residential property taxes will increase by 5 cents per $100 of assessed value. This equates to an additional $65.13 per year for a home valued at $250,000.
The tax will allow CCS to place school resource officers at every school, fund mental health programming and provide additional school safety training for teachers.
All Hamilton County residents will pay a .1 percent increase in the local income tax to fund improvements to the county’s 911 communications center.
HOTEL CARMICHAEL/CITY CENTER
Hotel Carmichael construction is on track for the building to open in spring 2020.
The 106,347-square-foot building will include 122 rooms, a restaurant, outdoor dining space, three bars and the Feinstein Club, a music lounge concept by Michael Feinstein.
Other City Center buildings expected to open in 2020 are the Kent (luxury apartments) and Playfair and Holland (luxury apartments and retail/office space).
Carmel isn’t expected to launch its proposed film festival until at least 2021, but planning will be well under way in 2020.
The city council removed $375,000 for the festival from the 2020 budget, but Brainard said that isn’t expected to slow down the planning process.
“It’s just a request from the council to give them more information before we make final commitments,” Brainard said. “We had some money in this year’s budget, and we’ll combine that with the money in next year’s budget and develop the plans to a more detailed level and talk to council again.”
The council budgeted $175,000 for the festival in the 2019 budget and approved $50,000 for it in the 2020 budget. Brainard said a successful festival would have a “huge impact on the community and small businesses.”
“There are a lot of film fests around the country that have not been successful. We’ve studied all the ones that are successful,” he said. “It’s a matter of communicating the information that’s been gathered and developing a more detailed budget for the council.”
CARMEL CLAY SCHOOLS
The final school year for Orchard Park Elementary will begin in the fall. The school will close after the 2020-21 school year.
Construction is set to begin in 2020 on Carmel Clay Schools’ two new elementary schools. The district is building a new campus on Clay Center Road, which is proposed to be called Clay Center Elementary School. CCS also is building a new Carmel Elementary building next to the existing one, which will be demolished when the new school is complete.
In the spring, the school board is expected to vote on potential changes to the daily schedule. The changes would extend the day for elementary students and create a later start time for middle and high school students. It also could include twice-a-month late-start days to give teachers more time for professional development.
Construction on an expansion of the Carmel Clay Public Library is expected to begin in the second half of 2020.
The $40 million project will include expanded space for programs, a parking garage and several other upgrades. Duration of the project is dependent on whether a temporary location for the library can be found during construction.
The expansion is expected to add between 10,000 and 30,000 square feet to the library’s 116,000-square-foot building, which was constructed in 1999. Look for project updates at carmel.lib.in.us/nextchapter.
The library will open its first branch, the Joyce Winner West Branch, Jan. 6 at 12770 Horseferry Rd.
PARKS & RECREATION
Thanks to the Clay Township Impact Program, improvements are coming to several Carmel parks this year, leading to their temporary closure.
Upgrades totaling $1.9 million at Flowing Well Park will include bank stabilization, trail rerouting, additional benches, a parking lot expansion, an entrance from 116th Street, well house improvements and restroom facilities.
At Meadowlark Park, CCPR will relocate the playground to the front of the park. The city’s first pickleball courts also are expected to be built there. Other improvements in the $3.5 million project include restrooms, a fishing pier and trails.
In Carey Grove, $2 million in upgrades include playground replacement, restrooms, trails and an improved parking lot.
In West Park, the $4.6 million project includes upgrading the playground and splash pad.
Carey Grove, Meadowlark and Flowing Well parks are expected to close for improvements in late winter or early spring. They are anticipated to reopen by the end of the year. The section of West Park to be improved also will be closed, but the newly completed Groves area and some trails will remain open.
“(Construction closures) are not going to be fun,” CCPR Director Michael Klitzing said. “It’s like when a roundabout goes in, there’s a little bit of disruption.”
The Carmel Marathon will celebrate its 10th anniversary in the new year. It will serve as the Road Runners Club of America Central Region Marathon Championship for 2020.
The marathon is set for April 4. Other races during the weekend include a half-marathon, 10K, 5K and marathon relay.