Bloomington neighborhood grant approvals delayed to comply with Indiana’s Open Door Law

On the Bloomington redevelopment commission’s (RDC’s) Monday agenda was an item to approve $27,000 in grant awards to seven different neighborhoods.

The image  is from the header of the online application for this year’s neighborhood improvement grants.

The grants have been made annually since 1998, and can pay for a range of projects: neighborhood entrance signs and street sign toppers; restoration of historic sidewalks; playground equipment; public art installations; and landscaping, among other things.

But at Monday’s meeting, assistant city attorney Larry Allen told the RDC that the item had been pulled from the agenda for that day, after a question from The Square Beacon about compliance with Indiana’s Open Door Law (ODL).

RDC is expected to have the recommendations from the neighborhood improvement grant council on its meeting agenda two weeks from now.

On April 19, the neighborhood improvement grant council met to hear pitches from eight different neighborhood groups. That meeting was properly noticed.

However, the grant council held a subsequent meeting, when the members deliberated on and decided their recommendations to the RDC. That meeting was not properly noticed under the ODL, according to Allen.

So the remedy will be to post proper notice, re-hold the meeting, and get the recommendations in front of the RDC in two weeks, Allen said. He said he’d confirmed that the delay would not have a negative impact on any of the proposed projects. “There was some built-in time anyway. And so this allows us just to follow the law like we should,” Allen said.

The recommendations made by the grant council at the un-noticed meeting were for awards to seven of the eight applicants.

The applicant not recommended for an award was the Covenanter Neighborhood Association, which had pitched a greenway station project that came with a requested amount ($24,377) that was close to the total available this year for all projects. The project had also received opposition from immediate neighbors of the proposed greenway station, at the southwest corner of Covenanter Drive and Brooks Drive.

The $27,000 awarded for seven projects this year brings the total since 1998 to $971,382.82 for 99 different projects.

Including this year’s initially recommended grants, the average award for that period is $9,811.95.

Based on data in Bloomington’s B Clear Portal, which goes back to 1998, it looks like four of the seven initial awardees would be first-timers: St. James Woods Neighborhood Association, Woodlands-Winding Brook Homeowners Association, Village of Ridgefield Homeowners Association, and Evergreen Village.

The projects are supposed to cost at least $1,100. They require a 10-percent match from the neighborhood.

2021 Neighborhood Improvement Grant Awards: Preliminary recommendations 

Neighborhood Project Name Grant Amount Requested
St. James Woods Neighborhood Association The St. James Woods Neighborhood Association requested funds to revitalize the landscaping on a city-owned parcel at the entrance to their neighborhood, along E Moores Pike. This would include additional plantings, erosion control, inclusion of rock/boulders, stump removal, tree trimming, and mulch. $5,491.79 $8,651.79
Bloomington Housing Authority Resident Council The Bloomington Housing Authority Residents’ Council’s requests funds to address sanitation issues within their three communities: Crestmont, Rev Butler, and Walnut Woods. They propose to place trash cans and cigarette butt disposal cans near all existing benches and pet waste stations in open areas (approximately one per acre in common green spaces). $5,019.16 $5,639.15
Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association The Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association requests funds to place two benches and twelve way finding signs in the Rose Hill Cemetery. This is the continuation of a grant request that was partially funded in 2020. $4,410.00 $11,177.00
Woodlands-Winding Brook Homeowners Association The Woodlands-Winding Brook Homeowners Association requested funds to place new neighborhood signs on either side of their neighborhood entrance, and to plant trees along E Rogers Road. Their previous sign and stand of trees were both removed when the City constructed a new walking path in the area. $4,254.60 $5,662.10
Village of Ridgefield Homeowners Association The Village of Ridgefield Homeowners Association requested funds to place four ADA compliant benches within their neighborhood. $3,973.85 $3,973.85
Near West Side Neighborhood Association The Near West Side Neighborhood Association requests funds to paint murals on the five traffic calming circles within the neighborhood. The theme of the murals will celebrate the diverse history of the Near West Side. $2,743.00 $2,743.00
EverGreen Village Neighborhood The EverGreen Village neighborhood requests funds for a neighborhood entrance sign and several smaller educational signs that would provide information about rain gardens and native plants. $1,107.60 $1,906.00
Covenanter Neighborhood Association Greenway station, located on the northeast corner of Covenanter Drive and Brooks, for neighborhood walkers runners and cyclists, consisting of a 10 foot by 15 foot concrete slab, upon which will be placed: water bottle and dog bowl fountain; hand sanitizing station; bench, bicycle fix-it station; 1 or 2 small bike racks; air pump; one small recycling bin; one small trash bin; dog waste station; and a Little Free Library. $0 24,377.43


History of neighborhood improvement grant awards since 1998 not including 2021

Neighborhood Name Total since 1998 Number of Awards
Bryan Park $160,557 11
Prospect Hill $130,203 13
Crestmont $104,360 9
McDoel Gardens $86,396 6
Child’s School/Sycamore Knolls $50,091 3
Old Northeast Downtown $40,712 4
Park Ridge East $34,674 4
Elm Heights $34,562 3
Gentry Estates $34,447 5
Broadview $29,540 3
Highland Village $22,060 3
Eastside $20,166 1
Fairview Elementary $20,000 1
W 7th & Rogers $18,720 1
Arden Place $17,427 2
West Pointe $15,825 2
Maple Heights $14,302 1
Hearthstone $12,883 1
Crescent Bend $12,000 1
Green Acres $11,165 1
Genry Estates $10,152 1
Bittner Woods $9,115 1
Near West Side $8,546 3
Spicewood $8,522 1
Sherwood Oaks Neighbors $6,672 2
Eastern Heights $5,650 1
Pinestone $4,845 1
Waterman $4,582 1
Blue Ridge $3,843 1
Northwood Estates $3,655 1
Rockport Hills $3,200 1
Moss Creek $3,000 1
Eton Mews $2,000 1
Matlock Heights $511 1

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