Carmel on road to $217M in infrastructure projects

The city of Carmel announced on Tuesday plans to spend $217 million on a wide range of infrastructure projects over three years, leading to property tax increases for some residents.

The list of projects includes about 30 more roundabouts, street improvements, land acquisition and storm water upgrades in several neighborhoods.

The long-considered plan to upgrade the congested Keystone Parkway and 96th Street intersection is on the list, along with a handful of other projects that Mayor Jim Brainard announced last February.

The list also includes new roundabouts at Rangeline Road and Carmel Drive and Rangeline and Executive Drive, which were anticipated as part of the redevelopment of the former Party Time Rental warehouse site.

“Our residents made it very clear in May that they want us to continue to invest wisely in our community, focusing on projects that make our roads safer, our commute times shorter and the time we spend with our families longer,” Brainard said in a prepared statement. “It’s important that we make these investments while we are a growing city, so future generations can benefit from our shared community vision to create the best city in which to live, work and play in the Midwest.”

The Carmel City Council will consider a handful of ordinances and resolutions to authorize bonds and funding arrangements on Jan. 4, including a measure to refinance certain outstanding bonds from the Carmel Redevelopment Commission.

The bonds will result in a property tax increase for most Carmel residents, according to a city press release. For a $200,000 home, taxes would increase by $22. Brainard said in a statement that homes valued higher than $345,000 would see no increase due to property tax caps. The median home value is more than $290,000 in Carmel.

At the time of the February announcement, Brainard declined to comment on  the potential cost of the projects but insisted that the city had the “capacity” in its budget to complete the work within four or five years.

“That was nothing more than a campaign announcement,” outgoing Carmel City Council President Rick Sharp told IBJ on Tuesday. “I said, ‘I don’t know what capacity means, but we are at a point where we can’t borrow any more money without a tax increase.’”

Sharp agreed with Brainard that many homeowners won’t be affected because they are already at the tax cap, but he said residents in rental units and commercial property owners would be impacted.

“We’re just shifting the burden,” Sharp said.

City spokespeople did not make Brainard available for comment early Tuesday afternoon.

Some of the projects listed in the city’s announcement are vague—for example, “various multi-use path construction.” No timeline was given for when construction would start on any of the projects.

The planned improvements to the 96th and Keystone intersection hit a road block in October when federal transportation officials declined a request to fund $19.4 million of the $32 million teardrop-roundabout project.

But several of the projects on the list will be funded through a mix of state and federal dollars, in addition to the $217 million in local funding, according to the city release.

The newly elected Carmel City Council has a majority of Brainard supporters, which should smooth passage of the funding proposals. Sharp lost in the mayoral primary election to Brainard, and Brainard critics Eric Seidensticker and Luci Snyder were defeated by Bruce Kimball and Jeff Worrell, respectively.

Kimball already has announced his support for the infrastructure initiative.

“After working with city staff and the mayor, I am pleased with the list of projects that I believe will benefit all of Carmel,” Kimball said in a prepared statement. “The projects for storm water and traffic flow will have a particularly positive impact on every neighborhood in the central district. With Hamilton County to nearly double in population in coming decades and as our housing ages, we have to ensure Carmel remains just as effective in the future as it is today in attracting new citizens and businesses.”

The following is a list of projects included in the city's announcement:

New roundabouts:
96th Street and Delegates Row
96th Street and Gray Road
96th Street and Hazel Dell Parkway
136th and Carey Road*
Carey Road and Hawthorne Drive
Carmel Drive and City Center Drive
Guilford Road and Carmel Drive
Guilford Road and City Center Drive
Pennsylvania Street and City Center Drive
116th Street and Rangeline Road
Rangeline Road and Executive Drive
106th Street and Towne Road
96th Street and Priority Way
116th Street and Gray Road*
116th Street and Hazel Dell Parkway*
Carmel Drive and Old Meridian
Carmel Drive and Range Line Road
96th Street and Keystone Parkway interchange*
96th Street and Randall Drive
111th Street and Rangeline Road
116th Street and College Avenue
116th Street and AAA Way
AAA Way and Carmel Drive
126th Street and Gray Road*
136th Street and Gray Road*
116th Street and Guilford Avenue
Gray Road and Main Street*
Pennsylvania Street and Carmel Drive
Rangeline Road and Fourth Street
Rangeline Road and City Center Drive
116th Street and Towne Road

Street and road projects:
Guilford Road reconstruction from City Center to Main Street
126th Street reconstruction from Hazel Dell to River Road
126th Street reconstruction from Rangeline to Keystone
Monon Boulevard construction from Second to Main streets
Hazel Dell Parkway widening from Cherry Tree to 146th Street
Keystone Way construction to connect to AAA Way
Rangeline Road reconstruction from 136th Street to U.S. 31
Rangeline Road extension to Lowes Way connector
Spring Mill Road improvements from 111th to Main streets

Path improvements:
Monon Trail reconstruction from City Center Drive to Main Street
126th Street path from Keystone to Hazel Dell
Various other multi-use path construction
Resurfacing and multi-use path construction in southwest Clay

Rangeline Road streetscape with on-street parking
Landscaping and streetscape improvements to city roundabouts

Land acquisition:
Land acquisition for redevelopment
Land acquisition in Central Business District
Land acquisition for future City Center hotel

Stormwater infrastructure project locations:
Foster Estates
Monon Swale
Old Town
Rangeline Road

Drainage improvements in subdivisions:
Carmel Meadows
Carmel View
Cedar Pointe
Concord Village
Crooked Stick and Crooked Stick West
Green Tea Estates
Jordan Woodlands
Village of Mount Carmel
Wilson Village

Other projects listed:
Underground relocation of existing Duke Energy transmission lines from Carmel Drive to Second Street SW
Various storm sewers
Various small structure and culvert projects
Various small structure placements
Various public infrastructure projects in Central Business District

*Previously announced

This story will be updated.

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