Support wavers for Carmel carousel project; committee recommends funding approval for Christmas market

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CARMEL, Ind. – The fight against a hotly debated family attraction in Carmel appears to be tilting in favor of the opposition.

On Monday night, a Carmel council committee discussed a proposal for a $76 million bond project that would also include a $5 million antique carousel.

In the end, only one councilor definitively said they would support the bond with the carousel included. Almost every other member said they wouldn’t vote to support the project.

More than 1,500 residents have signed a petition against the carousel idea from Mayor Jim Brainard.

“If it’s important to the community, we should pay for it with tax dollars. If it’s not important, we probably shouldn’t pay for it with tax dollars or private sector dollars,” Brainard said.

“A $5 million investment on a carousel, when we have the kind of debt that we have, makes no sense to me,” said Carmel resident Amy Charles. “I don’t think government should be funding that kind of money.”

The final version of the bond won’t be decided until the Sept. 13 committee meeting. A vote will be held on Sept. 18.

That’s not the only hot-button issue in Carmel. The committee also discussed a proposal for the city’s first Christkindlmarkt—a six-week German Christmas market.

The committee recommended approving more funding for the project. Last week, Brainard requested the transfer of $200,000 from other city departments’ budgets, including $100,000 from the police department, to buy more items to sell and pay workers.

“These funds are being used to purchase product and to also hire staff to be able to sell the authentic German product that we’ve purchased for the market this year,” said Maria Murphy, CEO and market master for the project.

“In future years, we may have more vendors who will run those huts and would then take a percentage for that,” Murphy said. “But this first year, the market itself, the nonprofit itself is purchasing the product and then hiring the people to run those huts.”

Committee members felt confident after hearing from department representatives that the money likely won’t be needed for the rest of the year and voted unanimously to recommend approval.

The hope is that the market will become an annual attraction that will eventually become self-sustaining after startup costs for the first year.

A final vote on the Christkindlmarkt project is scheduled for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

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