Carmel and Township Plan New Expansion of Sister Cities Cultural Gardens

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Press Release 1.27.01

City of Carmel Press Release: Nancy Heck

CARMEL, IN – Construction will begin soon on a new four-acre urban park that will add new water features and walking trails in an area south of City Hall extending to Carmel Drive. The Sister Cities Cultural Gardens project will also help alleviate a wide area of storm water management to address historic flooding issues.

               In a partnership with Clay Township, the new park located in the heart of the City will also be an expansion of the existing Japanese Gardens located on the southern edge of the City Hall parking lot. In addition to providing new parkland and green space within the City’s urban core, the park will be a living Storm Water Management system and Regional Detention Basin serving an active watershed area of about 208 acres.  This is very important as the watershed includes residential and commercial land uses that were developed many years prior to the City’s current stormwater management regulations.  Detaining water in this area, along with drainage improvements along the Monon Greenway will provide benefits for the watershed downstream in the southeast corner of the City.

               “One of the things we hear often from our residents is that they want more parks and places for recreation, especially in our rapidly growing central corridor. This new park will provide a beautiful new open green space with water amenities, walking trails and other features,” said Mayor Jim Brainard. “Urban parks like this and our Midtown Plaza are key factors in creating a quality of life that helps us attract corporate employers and new residents looking to fill their high-paying jobs.”

               The $17 million project was partially funded through the Clay Township Impact Program, which paid for $3 million in construction costs. Other sources of funding include the 2016 Storm Water Bond.  The project cost includes the acquisition of properties along Carmel Drive as well as improvements to the ditch along the Monon Greenway from Carmel Drive to Gradle Drive in order to improve drainage flow into the Garden.


               The Monon Greenway improvements will nearly double the width of the trail between Gradle Drive and City Center Drive.  The overall experience will also be enhanced as new landscaping, lighting and pedestrian activation areas will be added.  On Carter Green the existing amphitheater will be replaced with an at-grade stage platform that will be able to incorporate 360-degree performances during outdoor concerts, the Carmel Farmers Market, Christkindlmarkt and Festival of Ice.

New shaded seating areas and more pedestrian friendly outdoor spaces are planned for areas adjacent to the Palladium and Hotel Carmichael. Additional seating areas and landscaping will be placed along the Mezz Building and James Building while the area where the historic phone booth Little Free Library will be transformed into a new play area.

               The Monon Greenway from the Mezz south to Gradle Drive will see changes as well. The existing drainage swale will be enclosed to allow for an added new attraction along the Greenway, a new Fire Fighter Memorial. This will provide new public space, providing a memorial to those faithful public servants that have represented the City so well through the years.

Between Gradle Drive and Carmel Drive the Greenway will see the existing woodlands and tree canopy remain in place as lookouts are installed.  Some minor tree clearing will take place to remove invasive species in those in poor health in order to begin establishing new plantings that will ensure the long-term success of the tree canopy.  Dredging of the existing drainage swale will take place to enhance storm water drainage capacity and to eliminate the existing problems within the swale, including additional pooling water, trash collection and overall poor water quality in the summer months.

               A new bridge structure will be installed between Gradle Drive and the existing red bridge that will allow for easier access to City Hall and the Gazebo area.  A new gateway structure will be installed creating a prominent landmark feature that will flow into the newly expanded gardens. 

The City anticipates most of the construction to begin this spring with substantial completion by the end of this year.  There may be some additional landscaping that will continue into the spring of 2022.

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