Cataloging scooter parking violations: Bloomington to use temp agency for initial staffing of 2 positions

Shared electric scooters that are parked so they block ADA ramps and sidewalks in Bloomington will soon be systematically documented and moved out of the way by two temporary workers.

In action taken on Tuesday, the city’s three-member board of public works approved a contract with Express Employment Services that is supposed to pay two workers $15.75 an hour for around 25 hours a week. The total cost of the city’s payments to Express can’t be more than $15,500.

The parking services division, within the department of public works, will administer the pilot program, which is supposed to be evaluated at the end of the year.

A temp agency is being used just to get the new workers on the job as quickly as possible, with an eye towards bringing the same people on board as temporary city employees soon after that.

The jobs are posted on the city’s own job board.

The program to document blockage of ADA ramp and sidewalk access, and move the scooters out of the path is being launched more than three years after the city council enacted its scooter ordinance.

Bloomington’s local law allows shared use electric scooter companies to use the public right-of-way for their operations, in exchange for a licensing fee of $10,000 a year, and a payment to the city of 15 cents per ride.

Currently licensed to do business in Bloomington are Bird, Lime, and VeoRide.

Continue reading “Cataloging scooter parking violations: Bloomington to use temp agency for initial staffing of 2 positions”

Fiber network with 1-Gigabit internet service likely to start construction work in Bloomington next week

As soon as next week (Oct. 4, 2022), residents of the area south of Indiana University’s campus could start seeing new crews working in Bloomington’s public right-of-way to install fiber optic connections.

At its regular meeting on Tuesday this week,  the city’s board of public works is set to approve a request from AEG (Atlantic Engineering Group)  to work in the public right-of-way installing high-speed internet fiber underground as well as between utility poles.

AEG will be working for Hoosier Networks, the company formed by Paris-based Meridiam to do business locally. When construction is complete, the network is supposed to provide 1-Gigabit service to at least 85 percent of Bloomington.

Other providers have previously been granted access to work in Bloomington’s public right of way to install broadband connections. Continue reading “Fiber network with 1-Gigabit internet service likely to start construction work in Bloomington next week”

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”

Bloomington says bamboo ban means longtime resident must purge invasive species from yard

“Because bamboo is nasty, and you can’t get rid of it.”

That’s a two-and-a-half-year-old quote from Bloomington city councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith. Her remark came around 8 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2019 when the city council was considering a series of amendments to the city’s unified development ordinance (UDO).

Piedmont-Smith was explaining why she was, at the city staff’s request, introducing an amendment to add yellow groove bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata) to the city’s list of prohibited invasive grasses.

Yellow groove bamboo is one of the plants included in the Indiana Department of Natural Resources plan for managing invasive species. It can be hard to contain, because it shoots out horizontal underground plant stems that reproduce the root systems of a new plant.

The council’s 2019 approval of the amendment banning yellow groove bamboo means that city resident Karen Cherrington is now required to eradicate the bamboo plants that are growing on her West 6th Street property.

It’s not just the fact that the plants are on the banned list—they are also too tall, exceeding the city’s eight-inch limit for “weeds, grass, or noxious plants.”

About a year ago the city’s housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department started issuing citations and fines for Cherrington’s bamboo.

Cherrington’s appeal of her citations and escalating fines was heard on Tuesday by Bloomington’s three-member board of public works (BPW).

In her written appeal, Cherrington described herself like this: “I am physically unable to mow or cut myself. I will be 74 my next birthday, had a hip replacement, and have four compression fractures in my back, so any work like this I need to hire out.” Continue reading “Bloomington says bamboo ban means longtime resident must purge invasive species from yard”

First phase demolition for Hopewell: Bloomington picks Renascent for $589K job

By the end of summer, all but three of the buildings on a central Bloomington block, near the former IU Health hospital site, are set to be demolished.

It’s the area that has been named the Hopewell neighborhood.

On Tuesday evening, Bloomington’s board of public works, as well as the city’s redevelopment commission (RDC), approved the $588,755 contract with Indianapolis-based Renascent, Inc. for the demolition work.

It’s a separate demolition project from the one already underway on the west end of the former IU Health hospital site. IU Health has to demolish all the structures on the main site, except for the parking garage and the Kohr administration building, before transferring ownership to the city of Bloomington.

It’s part of a $6.5-million real estate deal. In early December last year,  IU Health moved to its new facility on the east side of town, on the SR 45/46 bypass.

The focus of the demolition work approved on Tuesday is Phase 1 East in the city’s master plan for redevelopment of the former hospital site.  It’s the block bounded by 1st and 2nd streets on the north and south, and Morton and Rogers on the east and west. The demolition contract approved on Tuesday involves property already under the city’s control. Continue reading “First phase demolition for Hopewell: Bloomington picks Renascent for $589K job”

Bloomington Chick-fil-A gets OK for night time noise permit to install awnings

The aerial image of the 3rd Street Chick-fil-A is from Monroe County’s online property lookup system.

A request for a night time noise permit at the 3rd Street Chick-fil-A restaurant got approved by Bloomington’s board of public works at its regular Tuesday meeting.

The noise permit is related to the planned installation of some awnings for the drive-thru area of the restaurant. The request came from the Georgia-based Horizon Construction Company. Georgia is also the national restaurant chain’s home state.

The calendar dates for the planned construction of the steel-framed shade structure run from July 21 through Aug. 24.

Horizon wants to be able to work between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. from Monday through Saturday, and all day on Sundays.

The request was made to allow Chick-fil-A to maintain its normal business hours, according to the board’s meeting information packet.

The board’s approval came with some concerns and caveats, which were discussed at the board’s Tuesday meeting. Continue reading “Bloomington Chick-fil-A gets OK for night time noise permit to install awnings”

Bloomington BPW affirms order to AT&T: Take gear off Johnson’s Creamery smokestack by May 31

At its Tuesday evening meeting, Bloomington’s board of public works voted to affirm an order from the city’s housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department, which requires AT&T to remove its communications equipment from near the top of the Johnson’s Creamery smokestack—by midnight on May 31.

The removal of AT&T’s equipment will help set the stage for the owner’s partial demolition of the smokestack—from 140 feet down to 60 feet. The building, with its smokestack, is owned by Peerless Development.

The partial demolition was ordered by HAND because an engineering study determined the smokestack is unsafe.

If AT&T doesn’t comply with the order to vacate, it could face a daily fine of $500 from the city of Bloomington. Continue reading “Bloomington BPW affirms order to AT&T: Take gear off Johnson’s Creamery smokestack by May 31”

Fire station in south part of Bloomington to get interior remodel

At its Tuesday meeting, Bloomington’s board of public works approved a $48,975 contract with Strauser Construction Company for some remodeling work in one of Bloomington’s five fire stations.

The work will be done at Fire Station #5, which is located on Henderson Street in the south part of town.

According to the staff memo in the board’s meeting information packet, the project includes several interior modifications: expansion of the kitchen area with new cabinets and countertops; construction of a partition wall in the equipment bay; construction of a small office for use by the station captain; filling in the overhead door on the north side of the building with solid masonry; and the installation of a new door leading from the equipment bay to the locker room.

The item drew no discussion from the three-member board of works. They’d been briefed on the project at a work session earlier in the afternoon by public works director of facilities J. D. Boruff. Continue reading “Fire station in south part of Bloomington to get interior remodel”

Public works notebook: Scooter contracts, underpass mural repair, sidewalk fines

Bloomington’s short-handed board of public works still worked its way through a Tuesday agenda that included: renewal of the $10,000 annual licenses for two scooter companies; an agreement with an artist to refurbish the 7th Street underpass mural; two public improvement bond estimates; and a noise permit for a Rally for Life event.

The three-member board has one open seat, due to the resignation of Dana Henke, which was effective at the end of the year. For Tuesday’s meeting, that still left a quorum in the form of Kyla Cox Deckard and Beth Hollingsworth. Acting as president for Tuesday’s meeting was the board’s secretary, Kyla Cox Deckard.

Public works director Adam Wason indicated at Tuesday’s meeting that it is hoped a replacement for Henke would be named in time for the board’s next meeting on Jan. 19. Continue reading “Public works notebook: Scooter contracts, underpass mural repair, sidewalk fines”

4th Street parking garage update: Public art wrapped up, security firm hired for overnight patrols

By mid-afternoon on Thursday, workers had completed the installation of the colorful quilt-patterned panels on three sides of the new 4th Street parking garage in downtown Bloomington.

As they were packing up their gear, the crew from Ignition Arts, which did the fabrication and installation of the piece, told The B Square they were glad to have wrapped up the work before Christmas Eve.

The garage has been open for parking since Aug. 23.

Since its opening, a collection of incidents at the garage, in combination with city staffing challenges, has led the public works department to add some private security patrols.

On Tuesday, the board of public works approved a $2,325 contract with Marshall Security through the end of January, to provide monitoring of the 4th Street garage during overnight hours.

The payment system for the garage was not immediately operational when the garage opened, but it has since been installed. That means it’s possible to start trying to track occupancy levels, which have mostly been only a fraction of the 540-space capacity.

Continue reading “4th Street parking garage update: Public art wrapped up, security firm hired for overnight patrols”