Board of public works
Board of public works from left: Jennifer Lloyd, Elizabeth Karon, and Kyla Cox Deckard (Aug. 15, 2023)
District 6 Democratic Party nominee for city council Sydney Zulich (Aug. 15, 2023)
Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce president Eric Spoonmore (Aug. 15, 2023)
Board of park commissioners
Bloomington resident Nick Angelos (Aug. 16, 2023)
Board of park commissioners from left: Israel Herrera, Kathleen Mills, and Ellen Rodkey. (Aug. 16, 2023)
Christopher Emge with the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce (Aug. 16, 2023)
On Tuesday, Bloomington’s board of public works passed a resolution asking that the city council enact an ordinance that will keep the public right-of-way clear of tents or belongings.
It’s not clear when or if the city council will follow the board’s recommendation.
The following day, the board of park commissioners took action, to enact a new policy that essentially prohibits tents in parks. The new policy takes effect on Aug. 23—that’s next Wednesday.
Action by the two boards on successive days is part of a general effort by Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s administration, to regulate the way Bloomington’s unhoused population is able to use public space.
Director of public works Adam Wason described to the three-member board of public how the draft ordinance would make clear that the police have the legal authority, to immediately clear the right-of-way of someone’s belongings, if they do not respond to a request to move.
Parks and recreation director Paula McDevitt told the board that the intent of the new policy against tents and other makeshift enclosures is to ensure that parks areas can be used and enjoyed “by the whole community.” The way tents are now used in parts has created serious public health and safety risks, due in part to illegal activity, McDevitt said.
McDevitt said the policy does not prohibit unenclosed shade structures, if they don’t shield from public view what is happening under them.
At both meetings, commentary from the public mic in favor of the administration’s position came from business owners, and business advocacy groups—the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, and Downtown Bloomington, Inc.
Public comment against the administration’s approach came from social service workers, members of mutual aid groups like Help Ourselves, and other advocates for the unhoused. Continue reading “Bloomington boards act on tents, belongings in parks, public right-of-way”