It might be next year before all parties have signed an interlocal agreement between Bloomington and Monroe County—in connection with an expansion of the Monroe Convention Center.
The effort to get final consensus on a collaboration between city and county leaders about a convention expansion dates back several years, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
But two weeks ago, both branches of Bloomington’s government approved the interlocal agreement, for the operation of the capital improvement board (CIB) and the convention and visitors commission (CVC)—in connection with the convention center expansion.
Bloomington mayor John Hamilton inked the interlocal on the afternoon of Nov. 15. The city council followed suit that evening, with an uncontroversial vote to approve the interlocal agreement.
The county council and the county board of commissioners were expected to consider and approve the agreement this week.
But the item appeared on Tuesday night’s county council meeting agenda only as a discussion item. And that’s where it remained for Tuesday. No vote was taken, even though councilors expressed a fair amount of solid support for the agreement.
At its regular meeting last Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council approved its side of the interlocal agreement that will control the working relationship among local government entities as they collaborate on an expansion of the Monroe Convention Center.
The vote was 8–0. Kate Rosenbarger was absent.
Signing the agreement earlier in the day on Wednesday was Bloomington mayor John Hamilton. That wraps up the city of Bloomington’s side of the arrangement.
Board of public works from left: Jane Kupersmith, Elizabeth Karon, Kyla Cox Deckard (Oct. 23, 2023)
Bloomington corporation counsel (Oct. 23, 2023)
Looking southeast on 3rd Street. The image is from Google Street View
The aerial image is from Monroe County’s online property lookup system.
Griffin Realty will be marketing and generating bids for Bloomington’s 3rd Street police station, in connection with a notice of sale approved by the board of public works in the last week of September.
According to the professional services agreement that Bloomington mayor John Hamilton was expected to sign this Monday, Griffin Realty will be paid 4 percent of the gross proceeds from the sale of the police station.
If the building sells for the minimum of $3.2 million in the notice of public offering that amount would mean $128,000 for the former deputy mayor, Don Griffin’s firm.
News of the pending contract signing was conveyed to the board of public works by Bloomington corporation counsel Beth Cate at its Monday noon (Oct. 23) work session.
Cate was updating the board, because the contract with Griffin Realty had originally appeared on the board’s Oct. 9 meeting agenda. But the board voted to remove it from the agenda at the administration’s request.
Board members are sworn in by Monroe County clerk, Nicole Browne. From left: Doug Bruce, Joyce Poling, Eric Spoonmore, John Whikehart, Adam Thies, and Mick Renneisen.
County attorney Jeff Cockerill, with back to camera, makes a point during the meeting.
Former Kokomo mayor Greg Goodnight.
Joyce Poling and Mick Renneisen visit before the start of the meeting.
From left: Jeff Cockerill and Beth Cate.
The most recent monthly figures for food and beverage tax revenue show the last three months as flat compared to last year.
Panorama of convention center looking to the southwest.
In early July, Monroe County commissioners used a state statute to create a seven-member capital improvement board (CIB) to govern the expansion of the Monroe Convention Center.
About three months later, on Wednesday morning, the first six appointees of the CIB convened an initial meeting in the Finch Room of the convention center.
The six appointments that have been made so far came from four different entities—county commissioners (2), county council, the mayor (2), and the city council. The initial six will choose the seventh.
Based on Wednesday morning’s meeting, the choice of the seventh member is hoped to be made at the board’s next meeting, now set for Nov. 8 at 1 p.m. Those interested in being considered can apply using a web-based form on Monroe County’s website.
The six are a group that includes members with a substantial history of governmental service. Here’s the list with their appointing authority in parens: Mick Renneisen and Adam Thies (mayor); John Whikehart and Joyce Poling (county commissioners); Eric Spoonmore (county council); and Doug Bruce (city council).
Under the chairship of Whikehart, who was chosen as president, the group worked its way on Wednesday through a meeting agenda that included: a briefing from county attorney Jeff Cockerill on the CIB’s responsibilities, how the initial budget will be created, where things stand with the food and beverage tax revenues, and a review of the properties that could be available for the expansion project.
The long-planned expansion of the Monroe Convention Center, which has been stalled since March 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, could take a small step forward next week.
At their regular meeting next Wednesday (July 5), Monroe County commissioners are likely to consider and approve an ordinance that will establish a seven-member capital improvement board (CIB) to provide the governance structure for the expansion. [2023-06-28 draft ordinance]
Expectations about next week’s action are based on the discussion at a Wednesday work session, which was held by commissioners following their regular meeting.
The previous night, at a county council work session, attended by commissioner Penny Githens, the council passed a motion made by councilor Geoff McKim, which supported the path that the commissioners are now taking.
On Monday at noon, the Bloomington city council convened a work session on the topic of the planned expansion of the Monroe Convention Center.
Providing a wake-up call to move the project forward was the Indiana General Assembly, which has now concluded this year’s session. Before wrapping up its work for the year, the state legislature passed HB 1454, which uses the local food and beverage tax as a prod, to require Bloomington and Monroe County to show some progress on the convention center project.