Carmel considering $101M in bonds for big slate of roundabouts, paths, other amenities

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The city of Carmel is considering taking on another $101 million in debt through the release of bonds that would pay for an aggressive slate of road projects, pedestrian paths and other major amenities.

A proposed $76 million bond would help fund the purchase of an antique carousel and projects such as six new roundabouts, three pedestrian path projects, the City Center hotel, a new clubhouse and other improvements at Brookshire Golf Club, office or retail space on the south side of the parking garage planned for the Monon & Main development, utility work, and several road improvements.

It would be paid for by local income tax revenue and backed by a special benefits tax, according to city documents. The Carmel City Council is expected to discuss the bonds at its meeting on July 17.

The carousel the city intends to purchase is the hand-carved Centerville Carousel that Dentzel Co. built in 1907 in Germantown, Pennsylvania. The carousel currently operates at Centerville Island in Toronto. It features 52 hand-carved animals, two ornate bench seats and an antique band organ.

The city has not yet determined where the carousel would be located, but it would likely be in either the Arts & Design District, Midtown or City Center. It would be housed in a building so it could be available year-round.

The roundabouts would be located at 106th Street and Hazel Dell Parkway; Third Avenue and Carmel Drive; Third Avenue and City Center Drive; Medical Drive and Carmel Drive; East Fourth Avenue and Main Street; and Sixth Street and Rangeline Road.

The pedestrian paths would be on Gray Road; Monon Greenway near City Center; and 136th Street from Rangeline Road to Keystone Parkway.

Other projects listed as miscellaneous in related city documents are Civic Square storage and maintenance buildings, a Duke Energy transmission lines burial project on 116th Street, Rangeline Road streetscape, public site work at the Legacy development on 146th Street, and four other road improvement projects.

Specific project costs have not been disclosed. City spokesman Dan McFeely said the projects “still have to be designed, then budgeted, then put out to bid,” so the city only has early estimates.

A separate $25 million bond would be paid for with tax increment financing revenues and backed by a special benefits tax.

When asked specifically what the bond would be used for, McFeely said, “land aggregation for the [Carmel Redevelopment Commission].”

"Because future projects have not been finalized and negotiations for land purchases may be ongoing, we cannot be more specific at this time,” McFeely said.

The debt proposal comes about a year and a half after the city of Carmel took on more than $250 million in new bonds.

In March 2016, the Carmel Bond Bank approved a $251.5 million bond following approval from the Carmel City Council in January 2016. It included 13 general obligation bonds of up to $2 million each with a majority of the funds set aside for new roundabouts, a $160 million bond through the Carmel Redevelopment Authority for 12 other road infrastructure projects, a $34.5 million bond for stormwater and drainage improvements and $12 million for local improvements associated with redevelopment.

A $19 million debt refinancing was also included in the bond package to lower the interest rate on an existing bond from 2010.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has previously said those bonds would cover the proposed $23 million expansion of the Monon Greenway and the $13.4 million redesign of Rangeline Road, but both projects are listed in the city documents for the new $76 million bond.

McFeely said the new bond will cover additional phases of those projects.

Carmel is second in the state for highest amount of outstanding debt obligations with $1.19 billion, according to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. Fort Wayne ranks slightly higher with $1.2 billion, but Carmel’s debt per capita is higher at $15,076 compared to Fort Wayne’s $4,808.

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