Bloomington city council notes: New sidewalks OK’d, but Kirkwood closure, parklets delayed for 2 weeks

Not included on the map, because no locations have yet been identified, is a $50,000 allocation for resident-led traffic calming projects. The image links to a dynamic map.

Two sidewalk projects are supposed to get constructed and another two designed in 2023, based on the Bloomington city council’s approval of its sidewalk committee recommendations at Wednesday night’s meeting.

In other business, the city council postponed for two weeks its approval of what has become an annual Kirkwood Avenue closure, and “parklet” program, to expand outside dining for some downtown restaurants.

The four sidewalk projects come with a total price tag of $286,000. But included in the committee’s recommendation, which was approved Wednesday on an 8–0 vote, was another $50,000 for resident-led traffic calming and greenway programs.

All four projects are located close to the 3rd Street midline of the city. One construction project is on Liberty Drive, from 3rd Street to the northern entrance of Whitehall Plaza. The other construction project is on Adams Street, from Kirkwood Avenue to Fountain Drive.

One design project is for sidewalks on both sides of Smith Avenue, between College Avenue and Walnut Street. The other design project is on South Overhill Drive, from 3rd Street to 5th Street.

Getting some mention during council deliberations and public commentary, as it does annually, was the significant gap between the amount of money available in the city council’s sidewalk program and amount it would cost to fund all the projects that have been requested by residents or analyzed as needed by city staff.

Two possibilities that get an annual mention as potential additional funding sources are: issuance of a bond; and use of tax increment finance (TIF). Those possibilities also got a mention on Wednesday night. The council did not take any action on Wednesday to request that mayor John Hamilton’s administration explore those additional funding options.

All eight councilmembers who were present at Wednesday’s meeting indicated some basic level of support for the Kirkwood closures, and for the program that allows a restaurant to pay to use nearby on-street parking spaces for expanded dining. (Matt Flaherty was absent.)

But councilmembers wanted another two weeks to sort through some details. As proposed, the full blocks on Kirkwood Avenue would be closed from Indiana Avenue to Dunn Street and from Dunn Street to Grant Street. In addition, the half block starting at Walnut Street, east to the alley, would be closed. That’s the same configuration as last year.

But it sounds like there could be some interest on the council in keeping the section of Kirkwood from Indiana Avenue to Dunn Street open to car traffic as it normally is.

And it sounds like there could be some interest in trying to accommodate the concerns of Trinity Episcopal Church congregants, who spoke during public commentary on Wednesday about the need to maintain accessible entry to their building.

The church sits on the block of Kirkwood between Dunn and Grant, which has been closed in 2020, 2021, and 2022 as a part of the Kirkwood closure program. The program originated as a way to try to help restaurants recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council is supposed take up the Kirkwood closures and parket program again at its March 1 regular meeting.

10 thoughts on “Bloomington city council notes: New sidewalks OK’d, but Kirkwood closure, parklets delayed for 2 weeks

  1. I wonder what Lennie’s thinks about leaving their road open. The lack of trees right there does make that asphalt pretty scorching in summertime, not as comfortable a place to sit as farther west.

    The Adams street sidewalk will be a nice addition to the B-Line extension going in right there. Not sure where they’re going to put it though. Maybe the car lane widths can be narrowed.

  2. The BT buses need to be banned from Kirkwood and moved to the Multi Million Dollar 7th Street Bike Lane and tear up the road way over there. This will help accommodate people and visitors to be able to visit the campus. The cars don’t do as much damage to the road like BT and heavy truck traffic

  3. Galen Cassady of Uptown spoke about closing Kirkwood to cars: “We heard complaints. Number one, lack of parking. To be honest. You know, we weren’t in favor of this when it first was being proposed at the early stages of the pandemic. However, our minds changed completely once we started to engage with it ourselves. We’ve seen more total guests with the increased outdoor dining than any other summer previous. And to me this completely dismisses the lack of parking argument and you I see if parking were an issue then we wouldn’t’ve seen this many visitors over the last few summers.”


    About 5 years ago, Uptown was one of the biggest proponents of the 4th street garage. Keep in mind that the new garage didn’t open until August 23, 2021. So it sounds like they had one great summer without the parking in front of their restaurant, *or* the 4th street garage.

      1. yeah, it’s from Mr. Cassady’s comment at the podium for resolution 23-04 (kirkwood outdoor dining program)

    1. That is because everyone visiting Kirkwood is now parking in front of surrounding retail stores and restaurants and walking to Kirkwood (they don’t all use the garage). As a result of this increased seating Uptown has increased their revenue by 20% (if I recall their quote in the HT in 2022)…I’d have a change of mind too. However, the retail stores and restaurants in immediate area no longer have adequate parking spaces for their nearby customers. I think we need to look on what is happening as a result of the closure from another perspective. Also, I read time and time again about the accessibility issues from curbside (drop off). So are we benefiting a few or all?

      1. i think i want to push back against “the retail stores and restaurants in immediate area no longer have adeqate parking spaces”. i’ve been following the issue of parking downtown for about 20 years, and one thing has been constant. downtown business owners take every opportunity to say that there isn’t sufficient parking. i understand that when you see a problem, and at the same time, you see something new, it is tempting to think the new thing caused the problem. but either these business owners are wrong when they say there isn’t enough parking, or there hasn’t been enough parking for a very very long time!

        but i want to double down on something you said that is absolutely correct: they don’t all use the garage!! in fact, a lot of people visiting Kirkwood don’t park at all. there is a ton of housing near downtown! people walk or bike from dorms, apartments, and even from the single family “core neighborhoods” that surround downtown.

        i think you raised a good question, who benefits? and one answer is that it is definitely not “just a few” — if it was only a small group, it wouldn’t be big enough to help the downtown merchants that are in favor of this program. but it’s also definitely not “all”. as much as i am a fan of this policy, just like everything else it is a part of the real world so it has trade-offs. for the thousands of people who live near downtown, it is generally a benefit without downsides. for people who live further away, it is more muddled. i would argue that they benefit from a pleasant and attractive environment, but they also pay some costs. and it gets more confusing yet when you consider the different kinds of business owners, and their different interests.

        speaking of business owners, an anecdote…one of the things i have really been astonished by is a lot of business owners seem to care more about their personal parking space than their customers’!

  4. Pardon my ignorance, but what is “ATF” on the map? That acronym is usually Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Thank you.

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