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

Election equipment for Monroe County passes logic, accuracy test

Monroe County’s election equipment, manufactured by Hart InterCivic has passed the logic and accuracy test mandated under state statute.

The test was conducted with help from Bob and Lori White, with B&L IT Services, which is a contractor the county uses for logistics and technical support in connection with elections.

The test took place at 9:30 a.m. on Monday at the old Johnson Hardware building at 7th and Madison streets, aka Election Central.

After a test deck of 22 ballots was fed into each of the three machines, and the machines tallied up the results, every candidate in every race received 4 votes. That meant the devices selected for testing passed with 100 percent accuracy. Continue reading “Election equipment for Monroe County passes logic, accuracy test”

Bloomington police report: Early Sunday morning death when drunk driver hits scooter rider

In the early morning hours of Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, a drunk driver veered up onto the sidewalk of North Walnut Street near 12th Street causing one person on the sidewalk to jump out of the way, according to a Sunday afternoon news release from Bloomington police.

But the driver struck a 20-year-old man riding an electric scooter, and the man has died from his injuries, according to the news release.

Bloomington police arrested 22-year-old Madelyn N. Howard of Crown Point and have charged her with two crimes: Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Resulting in Death (a level 4 felony) and Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury or Death While Intoxicated (level 3 felony).

According to the news release, the car driven by Howard was seen on security footage from a nearby business driving with its passenger-side tires up on the sidewalk on the east side of Walnut Street. According to the news release, the car was driving fast and a person on the sidewalk can be seen jumping out of the way of the car into the grass just before it strikes the victim on the scooter.

According to the news release, the man was found lying along the east edge of Walnut Street just north of the intersection of 12th and Walnut Street. He was taken by ambulance to the IU Health Bloomington Hospital.

Bloomington police officers responded to the call around 1:50 a.m on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, according to the news release. Continue reading “Bloomington police report: Early Sunday morning death when drunk driver hits scooter rider”

Monroe County 2023 budget notebook: Councilors mull $2K one-time retention bonus

In 2023, Monroe County employees could see a $2,000 quarterly retention bonus, paid out quarterly.

The screen grab from the CATS broadcast links to the video recording, cued up to the start of the discussion about the potential $2,000 one-time bonus.

That’s in addition to the 5-percent COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) that their draft budget already includes.

The working number for the total 2023 Monroe County budget is in the ballpark of $90 million.

Here’s the back-of-the-napkin math some councilors did on Thursday: $2,000 times about 600 employees equals about $1.2 million more.

None of that is certain.

The next steps in the county’s budget process include a public hearing on Oct. 4 and a vote that is set for Oct. 18.

Discussion of the $2,000 retention bonus came on Thursday (Sept. 15), after five nights of budget hearings that stretched across two weeks. Monroe County councilors wrapped up the budget hearings with a discussion of employee compensation. Continue reading “Monroe County 2023 budget notebook: Councilors mull $2K one-time retention bonus”

Lots more electric scooters in Bloomington, but not as many more rides

Compared to late summer last year, there are 50 percent more shared electric scooters staged around Bloomington, waiting for prospective riders.

But the 50-percent bigger fleet has generated just 13 percent more rides.

Those numbers are based on the city of Bloomington’s public dataset of scooter activity. Included in the dataset are daily records of the number of rides and the number of available scooters for each of the three scooter companies that are allowed to do business using the public right-of-way.

By the numbers, between Aug. 14 and Sept. 14 of 2021 the total average number of available scooters (counting all three companies) each day was 454, compared to 690 for the same period in 2022. That’s a 50-percent increase.

Between Aug. 14 and Sept. 14 of 2021, the total average number of rides given (counting all three companies) each day was 2,051, compared to 2,309 in 2022. That’s a 13-percent increase.

That means the three companies overall are generating fewer rides per available scooter.

The rides-per-available scooter stat is important, because it’s part of the contractual agreement between each scooter company and the city of Bloomington.

If a company doesn’t hit a minimum number of rides-per-scooter each calendar month, the city is supposed to be able to reduce the allowable number of scooters the company can make available in the public right-of-way. Continue reading “Lots more electric scooters in Bloomington, but not as many more rides”

Photos: Protesters mourn effective date of Indiana’s law prohibiting most abortions

On the evening before the effective date of SB1, Indiana’s new law that prohibits most abortions, around a hundred people gathered on the southeast lawn of the Monroe County courthouse in an event that was billed as a vigil to mark the occasion.

Attending Wednesday evening’s event (Sept. 14) and addressing the crowd were county and city officials as well as leaders of nonprofit groups. Continue reading “Photos: Protesters mourn effective date of Indiana’s law prohibiting most abortions”

Bloomington board of public works notebook: Boxed-in bamboo wins appeal

A stand of bamboo can continue to screen the hawks and herons that eat the excess fish in a backyard Bloomington water feature.

That was ruling from Bloomington’s three-member board of public works at its Tuesday meeting.

In the first week of September, Bloomington resident Carolyn Geduld had been cited by the city’s housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department for allowing the bamboo to grow on her property in the southeast part of town. It was a warning that the HAND department issued, not a fine

Under Bloomington’s city code, bamboo is defined as an invasive species and cannot be planted or maintained on a property.

Geduld appealed her notice of violation. And the city’s legal department was persuaded by her argument.

Assistant city attorney Chris Wheeler addressed the board in support of the appeal. Geduld attended Tuesday’s board of public works meeting, but did not address the board.

The key to winning over the legal department was not the hawks and herons that Geduld described in her appeal, but the fact that the bamboo was confined to a structure where it could not spread. Continue reading “Bloomington board of public works notebook: Boxed-in bamboo wins appeal”

Likely no deliberations this week on new map for Bloomington city council districts

Bloomington’s city council almost certainly won’t be deliberating on a potential new district map ordinance at a committee meeting this Wednesday.

The new boundaries that are spelled out in the map ordinance were recommended by the city’s redistricting advisory commission two weeks ago. Consideration of new boundaries for the council’s six districts is required every 10 years in the second year after the decennial census.

But still on the agenda for the council’s 6:30 p.m. Wednesday special meeting  is the first reading of the ordinance that would adopt new boundaries for the council’s districts. The first reading will likely still take place, but nothing else. Continue reading “Likely no deliberations this week on new map for Bloomington city council districts”

Column: Bloomington botches accessibility of document about accessibility

In a news release issued on Monday evening,  the city of Bloomington announced that it is inviting feedback on its ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Transition Plan.

ACCESSIBILITY GUIDELINES FOR DOCUMENTS ON THE CITY WEBSITE All files uploaded to the City website, or otherwise electronically distributed to the public, need to be fully accessible. Accessible includes, but is not limited to,readable by assistive technology, images have captions and/or alternative text descriptions, and the use of high color contrast when placing text over an image. ACCESSIBILITY CHECKLIST Before uploading your file, or distributing it electronically, complete this checklist to ensure the document is accessible. ADD DESCRIPTIVE CAPTIONS OR ALTERNATIVE TEXT FOR ANY IMAGE(S) IN THE DOCUMENT. In Word 2013: Add alt text Right click on image and select "Format Picture." Select the "Layout & Properties" icon and choose "Alt Text." Enter appropriate alt text only in the Description field (not the Title field). Add caption: Right click on image and select "Insert caption." Enter caption. In Google Docs: » Add alt text: Right click on image and select "Alt Text." Enter a title and description for the image. Click "Ok" USE AN ACCESSIBILITY CHECKER TOOL In Word 2013: Open file Click on "File" in the upper left-hand corner. On the Info page, click on the down arrow next to "Check for Issues" Select "Check Accessibility" Correct any issues found in "Inspection Results" In Adobe Acrobat Pro (paid version): Open file Click on "Tools" On the Tools page, locate and click on the Accessibility tool under"Protect & Standardize" Click on "Accessibility Check" on the right side of the screen. Click "Start Checking" on next screen. Correct any issues listed in the report.
This image, with no digital text included, is part of the city of Bloomington’s draft ADA Transition Plan.

But the city does not seem to be interested in feedback on the document from anyone except those who can see perfectly well.

The ADA is all about making the world accessible to everyone. Many accessibility efforts are familiar, like installation of sidewalk curb ramps at intersections or designation of parking spaces near building entrances.

But making the world accessible is supposed to include making electronic documents readable for those whose vision is not good enough to see the words.

That’s done by ensuring that any of the word images in a document have a digital counterpart that can be read by text-to-voice screen reading software.

One approach to making documents accessible is to use some kind of OCR (optical character recognition) software to add digital text to word images. Continue reading “Column: Bloomington botches accessibility of document about accessibility”

Bloomington OKs 135-bedroom apartment building across from IU football stadium

A six-story building with 75 apartments and 135 total bedrooms across Dunn Street from IU football stadium was approved on a unanimous vote of the Bloomington plan commission at its regular monthly meeting on Monday.

Construction on the project, which was put forward by University Properties VI, LLC, is expected to start in November and finish by August 2024.

The site spans the block between Dunn and Grant streets along 19th Street. Now on the east end of the site are two vintage 1966 apartment buildings with a total of 30 units. On the west end of the site are two single-family houses that were built in 1950.

The site is north of the Evolve student housing complex. Continue reading “Bloomington OKs 135-bedroom apartment building across from IU football stadium”