Public works notebook: Scooter contracts, underpass mural repair, sidewalk fines

Bloomington’s short-handed board of public works still worked its way through a Tuesday agenda that included: renewal of the $10,000 annual licenses for two scooter companies; an agreement with an artist to refurbish the 7th Street underpass mural; two public improvement bond estimates; and a noise permit for a Rally for Life event.

The three-member board has one open seat, due to the resignation of Dana Henke, which was effective at the end of the year. For Tuesday’s meeting, that still left a quorum in the form of Kyla Cox Deckard and Beth Hollingsworth. Acting as president for Tuesday’s meeting was the board’s secretary, Kyla Cox Deckard.

Public works director Adam Wason indicated at Tuesday’s meeting that it is hoped a replacement for Henke would be named in time for the board’s next meeting on Jan. 19.

Members of the board of public works are appointed by the mayor, Democrat John Hamilton. But the board is not required to be partisan balanced. That means there’s no risk that if the seat remains vacant for too long, that the chair of the county’s Republican Party would be able to make the appointment.

The public improvement bond estimates appeared on Tuesday’s agenda in connection with two different housing developments: Habitat for Humanity’s Osage Place for 30 residential lots and three common area lots; and Summit Woods on Adams Street for nine single-family lots and two common area lots.

A public improvements bond is required to cover the installation of public improvements and has to be at least 125 percent of the approved estimate of the total improvement construction cost of the project.

For Osage Place the estimate approved by the board of public works on Tuesday was $981,394. For Summit Woods, the approved estimate was $488,349.

On the board’s Tuesday consent agenda was a $1,500 contract with the Chicago-based artist Justus Roe for the repair of the mural he created for the 7th Street underpass four years ago. The work has to be completed in the first half of 2022. Much of Roe’s piece, which is called “Jensai Crossing,” is now obscured by graffiti.

The annual licenses for the scooter companies Lime and Veoride were included in the consent agenda.

During public commentary, Greg Alexander said the two licenses should be pulled off the consent agenda for deliberation. Alexander noted that when the city council approved the ordinance to allow scooter companies to use the public right of way, the idea was that the new law would be subject to ongoing evaluation. He added, “A lot of promises made at that time weren’t kept.”

Alexander was alluding in part to the assurance given by city attorney Mike Rouker at the July 31, 2019 city council meeting when the scooter ordinance was enacted. Rouker told the city council: “[The city of Bloomington] will be fining them every single time we see a parking issue.”

No fines have been issued in more than two years since the ordinance was enacted, despite frequent obvious violations of Bloomington’s scooter parking law.

Some uReports submitted by The B Square, about scooters parked in a way that were in obvious violation of the city code, were closed out with this notation: “[T]here is no VIN or license plate so they cannot issue a citation in the traditional manner.”

The note continues, “However, records are kept and issued to Legal who can in turn issue fines to the company who owns the scooters.  I am forwarding the complaint and picture to legal for this reason.”

Based on email correspondence between Bloomington’s economic and development director Alex Crowley and representatives of scooter companies, the city administration has tried to address scooter parking violations in connection with the staging of scooters by the companies, if not infractions committed by users.

Even if fines of scooter companies for parking violations are not yet attested, public works director Adam Wason reported at Tuesday’s meeting that two developers had been fined for blocking sidewalks and failing to adhere to their required maintenance of traffic plans for the construction of their projects.

Wason was responding to the description by Greg Alexander during public commentary of The Standard (the former location of Brownstone Terrace on 14th Street) and the Curry Urban Properties project on Pete Ellis Drive

Wason said, “They were issued fines for not being in compliance with their maintenance of traffic plan.” Wason continued, “Sometimes those fines aren’t heavy enough to really impact the cost of business. But at the same time, we absolutely did issue some fines in that instance.”

Wason added, “Those are two projects that we’re both keenly aware of, and the engineering team that inspects over there are keenly aware of the importance of following up, inspecting, and being on site regularly.”

Additional photos of 7th Street underpass: Dec. 26, 2021