Round and round: Mayor’s plans for new carousel in downtown Carmel incite controversy among residents

Mayor’s plans for new carousel in downtown Carmel incite controversy among residents


Anushka Dasgupta, Reporter

Mayor James Brainard has continually strived to better Carmel by adding more amenities for its residents; however, his most recent plan has divided citizens. Brainard wants the city to invest in a $5 million project to obtain and install a vintage hand-carved Dentzel carousel. Additionally, he’s proposed for the city to build a luxury hotel from the Marriott Autograph collection in which to display the carousel.

The high price of the carousel has raised concerns for many citizens, including Carmel resident Tim Hannon, who has created a petition to voice his opposition to the mayor’s plans. To date, Hannon’s petition has over 1,600 signatures. There is also a petition in support of the carousel, which has 700 signatures.

May Zhang
Sue Finkam, chair of the city’s Finance, Utilities and Rules Committee, is one of the key individuals reviewing the carousel controversy. At its Aug. 28 session, a majority of the committee stated that the $5 million set aside for the carousel will be exempted from the package.

The Carmel City Council is scheduled to vote on this issue as early as today, but could be tabled until later, as part of a $101 million bond including other construction projects. However, Brainard said the council was likely to oppose the plans, based on the last meeting.

Xuchen Wei, Economics Club member and senior, said he would also urge the council to vote against the carousel plans, saying, “I don’t think municipal governments should be involved in taking on ventures like this that can be totally garnered just by private investments. I feel like if it’s done by private investments, a lot more of the risk of the fact that this might not pay off, are going to be factored.”

Hannon and Wei both said the carousel should be funded by private investments. Hannon said, “What I would say and what people who have signed the petition would say, is that we don’t think the carousel is a bad idea, it just isn’t an appropriate use of taxpayer money. We would rather see it go to police, or fire, or schools or streets.”

On the other hand, Brainard said the carousel would serve the citizens of Carmel and would attract people from neighbouring towns. He said, “These are good investments that’ll help keep our taxes low in Carmel, because we’re investing in our city and we’re investing in such a way that will attract many people to visit here and raise the quality of life for those of us that already live here.”

Hannon said, “I think the civics lesson is that we need to be more involved in what our mayor is doing in what our city council is doing … Whether the council votes for or against the carousel, the result of this is people are talking to their neighbors, talking to their city council members.” He said he urges high schoolers to sign either petition if they feel strongly for or against funding the carousel.