Carmel City Council rejects funding for carousel, moves forward with luxury hotel

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CARMEL, Ind. -- The Carmel City Council voted to cut out funding  to purchase and install an antique carousel, but kept money to help build a luxury hotel in a bond proposal that passed Monday night.

Mayor Jim Brainard's vision for the city and how to pay for it has been a hot button issue among Carmel residents, but all sides seemed to agree the win for everyone was the amount of community input.

"Carmel residents that are often sometimes disengaged in the process but came out and spoke either for or against the carousel, the hotel or the bonds," Council President Sue Finkam said.

A $76 million bond included funding for the carousel and hotel. Councillors voted to take out $5 million funding the ride. An effort to remove funding for the hotel, with concerns over finances and the ability to fill jobs, failed. Another $25 million bond passed. Councillors said the bonds include money in part for more paths, infrastructure and roundabouts.

"Ultimately the carousel is an economic development opportunity, it brings in tourists and increases the quality of life," supporter Henry Mestesky said.

While the proposal for the ride garnered some support, it also sparked public pushback.

"It would be nice to have it here but we think there's better use of taxpayer funds," said Tom Hannon, who created an online petition against the carousel and hotel.

All hope for the ride is not lost, though. Mayor Brainard said he is looking at alternative funding sources.

"So the key is that we continue to invest in our downtown, to continue to build that tax base which helps keep taxes low for our residents," he said.

The city council also voted to pass a golf car ordinance, which allows the vehicles on some roads.