Delayed by Bloomington board: Right-of-way closures for Miller-Showers city gateway construction

In a change of plans, over the next few days, Reed & Sons Construction will not be starting onsite preparations for various improvements at the north end of Miller-Showers Park.

The scheduled work is supposed to include a 40-foot tall gateway monument costing about $400,000. The monolith features the word “Bloomington” in all caps inscribed vertically from top to bottom.

What delayed the parks department project was a decision made by Bloomington’s board of public works at its Tuesday night meeting.

In the area of College Avenue and Old 37, Reed & Sons had requested temporary sidewalk and lane closures, with proposed pedestrian detours, in order to make the construction work possible.

But the board voted to put off approval of those right-of-way closures.

Continue reading “Delayed by Bloomington board: Right-of-way closures for Miller-Showers city gateway construction”

Bloomington boards act on tents, belongings in parks, public right-of-way

Board of public works

Board of park commissioners

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”

Vote on trash fee increase in Bloomington put off until Aug. 9

It was about three years ago, in April of 2020, right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when trash cart fees paid by Bloomington residents were last increased.

After voting down a proposed increase in mid-June, Bloomington’s city council has now postponed a vote on a revised proposal. On Wednesday, the council voted 7–0 to postpone the question until Aug. 9.

Absent from the meeting were Susan Sandberg and Dave Rollo.

The trash cart price is proposed to increase starting in 2024.

The increase three years ago was relatively incremental. The 35-gallon cart size, which is the smallest option, increased from $6.22 to $6.51 per month, which is 4.6 percent more. That put the cost at the top of the range that is currently spelled out in city code.

This time around, the proposed increase is substantial, because it’s designed to eliminate general fund support for curbside collection of trash and recycling. The initial increase for a 35-gallon cart would go from $6.51 to $8.75 per month. That’s a 34-percent increase. Continue reading “Vote on trash fee increase in Bloomington put off until Aug. 9”

Trash talk analysis: Bloomington city councilmembers want to rethink cart fees

The roughly 6,000 Bloomington residents who currently pay the city $11.61 a month for weekly pickup of their 64-gallon trash cart, could see that amount more than doubled—to around $24 a month.

That kind of increase would come from applying some assumptions floated at city council sessions—like eliminating general fund support for trash pickup, and increasing rates only for medium and large carts, not for the smallest size.

While the amount and the timing of an increase is not clear, some Bloomington city councilmembers are looking at a significant increase to trash collection fees and possibly a different approach to the rate structure. Continue reading “Trash talk analysis: Bloomington city councilmembers want to rethink cart fees”