Griffy dam trail crossing gets OK from Bloomington RDC: “It’s not within the TIF—it’s serving the TIF.”

A gravel path across the top of Griffy dam, including staircase access and safety fencing, with an estimated cost of $375,000, now has approval in concept as a Bloomington redevelopment commission project.

The unanimous vote by the five-member Bloomington RDC came at the group’s regular meeting on Monday. No expenditure of funds was approved with Monday’s vote.

It’s currently possible for hikers to get across the dam by going through a fence, Bloomington parks operations manager Tim Street told the RDC. But the new path will “formalize” the crossing and in places improve the aesthetics of chain link with cedar split rail fence.

The Griffy dam trail crossing is on the list of projects approved by the Bloomington city council and the board of park commissioners in May this year, as part of a $10-million bond package. Half that amount was was made up of parks bonds.

When Bloomington’s city council gave its approval for issuance of the parks bonds, it put the dam crossing last on in its priority ranking.

The low priority ranking by the city council is key to the RDC’s agreement now to make the dam crossing one of its projects to be paid for out of tax increment finance (TIF) revenue.

The low priority ranking by the city council means the timing of the dam crossing would come after other higher-ranked projects, like separated bicycle lanes on 2nd Street and Covenanter Drive.

But the dam crossing is “shovel ready” and has a permit from Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources that is good through next year, Street said. As Street put it, “We want to keep this moving.” The dam crossing will connect to a six-mile trail that the parks department is working on, Street added.

The low priority ranking also means that the dam crossing would be slotted behind other projects for use of the $5 million in parks bonds. The RDC’s project form includes a note: “Reimbursed from 2022 Parks Bond as funds are available.”

Responding to a question from RDC member Sarah Bauerle Danzman, city controller Jeff Underwood said he does not think there will be any parks bond money left over for the dam crossing project. As Underwood put it, “I’m not confident that there’s going to be any funds.”

The two TIF districts listed out on the RDC project form are North Kinser/Prow Rd TIF and the Consolidated TIF (originally W. 17th Street). The geography of the dam crossing and the TIF districts drew a question from RDC member Deborah Myerson. “I don’t really have a sense of how the Prow TIF reaches that,” Myerson said.

Assistant city attorney Larry Allen responded by saying, “It’s not within the TIF—it’s serving the TIF.” Allen continued, saying that the Griffy Nature Preserve area is used by people that live in the Kinser Pike and North Prow Road area. “It’s a park that’s adjacent to the TIF [area],” Allen said, adding, “So we see it as serving that TIF [area] as a prominent feature.”

Responding to a B Square question after the meeting, Allen said the Griffy dam crossing is also a part of planned connections south along Dunn Street, which eventually will connect up to the consolidated TIF area originally designated as the W. 17th Street TIF area.

Here’s the list of parks bond projects approved by the Bloomington city council and the parks board earlier this year.

Table: As Amended GO Bonds Sorted by Category and Cost [priority rank]
Bond Type Item Min Estimate Max Estimate
Parks GO Bond Cascades Phase 6 -path/connection to Miller Showers Park $3,200,000 $3,200,000
Covenanter Drive Protected Bicycle Lanes (College Mall to Clarizz Blvd) [4] $2,400,000 $2,880,000
W. 2nd Street Modernization, Protected Bike Lanes (Walker St to B-Line) [2] $1,500,000 $1,500,000
N Dunn St Multiuse Path (45/46 Bypass to Old SR 37) [3] $800,000 $960,000
Griffy Loop Trail dam crossing and community access [5] $375,000 $375,000
Replace missing sidewalk on Rogers St. by Switchyard Park [1] $200,000 $200,000
Replace gas powered equipment with electric equipment $25,000 $25,000
Parks GO Bond Total $5,275,000 $5,915,000


3 thoughts on “Griffy dam trail crossing gets OK from Bloomington RDC: “It’s not within the TIF—it’s serving the TIF.”

  1. As a frequent driver on N Dunn St, I feel for the pedestrians/cyclists who try to use that stretch. Blind hills/dips/curves make encountering them very challenging in places with little visibility and little space to step off the pavement. That dam crossing will be nice, but the trail between the dam and the stadium will probably get more use, and maybe, save some injuries.

    1. i totally agree. the sad news is, the path on dunn st isn’t funded…that $800k is just for design/right-of-way work and — publicly, at least — there’s no plan for where to get the money to actually build it.

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