Parking notebook: 4th Street parking garage has unused capacity, based on data halfway into 2022

The new public parking garage at 4th and Walnut streets, which opened in late August of 2021, has a lot of unused capacity.

That’s based on entry/exit and occupancy data for the first half of 2022, which was provided to The B Square by the city of Bloomington in response to a records request.

For the first six months of 2022, the peak occupied state of the garage came on June 22 between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. when 315 cars were parked in the garage—based on the numbers provided by the city. More typical peak occupancy for a weekday is around 150 cars.

The reports generated by the parking system software show the capacity of the garage at 500 spaces, but during the design and approval phase for the garage, the number was pegged at 537 spaces. A manual count by the B Square this week put the number of total spaces at 560.

Based on 560 spaces, a typical peak occupancy of 150 on any given day works out to about 27 percent. A conventional parking industry benchmark is that 85 percent occupancy is perceived as full.

The garage replaced by the newly built structure, because it was failing structurally, had 352 spaces.
Continue reading “Parking notebook: 4th Street parking garage has unused capacity, based on data halfway into 2022”

Pandemic notebook: Hospital numbers push Monroe County community spread level to “medium”

Monroe County’s community spread level for the COVID-19 virus has increased from “low” to “medium” as defined by the Centers for Disease Control.

The number of cases per week per 100,000 residents is still below 200, which would put the county in the “low” category. But the latest CDC number for new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population is 13.4. That number needs to be less than 10 for a county to stay in the “low” category.

The CDC’s guidance for counties in the “medium” category looks like this:

  • If you are immunocompromised or high risk for severe disease:
    Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions (e.g., testing)
    Have a plan for rapid testing if needed (e.g., having home tests or access to testing)
    Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are a candidate for treatments like oral antivirals, PrEP, and monoclonal antibodies
  • If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for severe disease:
    consider self-testing to detect infection before contact
    consider wearing a mask when indoors with them
  • Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters
  • Maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces when possible
  • Follow CDC recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including getting tested if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19

Continue reading “Pandemic notebook: Hospital numbers push Monroe County community spread level to “medium””

Commissioners update firearms prohibition in some Monroe County buildings

Two more buildings have been added to a codified list of Monroe County facilities where the possession of firearms—licensed or unlicensed—is prohibited.

Already on the list were the courthouse, the justice center, the Curry Building (7th Street), and the old Johnson’s Hardware building (7th Street).

Joining those four are the recently renovated county health services building (7th Street) and the youth services bureau (Adams Street).

The ordinance amendment was approved Wednesday morning by the three county commissioners on a unanimous vote.

What’s the common denominator for the county buildings where firearms are prohibited? They all contain a circuit courtroom of some kind.

Under state law  a local government can prohibit possession of a firearm “in a building that contains the courtroom of a circuit, superior, city, town, or small claims court.” [IC 35-47-11.1-4]

Bloomington’s city council has recently heard public comment, calling on the city’s legislative body to use the same state law to ban firearms at the city’s farmers market.

Continue reading “Commissioners update firearms prohibition in some Monroe County buildings”

Monroe County GOP gives greenlight to county chair to fill ballot vacancies

At a meeting of Republican Party precinct chairs held at Ellettsville town hall on Tuesday evening, they gave county party chair Taylor Bryant the authority to fill vacancies on the Nov. 8 election ballot.

Bryant would have until noon on July 3 fill ballot vacancies.

Before the vote, county vice chair William Ellis said Bryant’s authority is just for cases where no GOP candidate filed for the May 3 primary election, and does not extend to filling a vacancy for an office due to resignation or death.

As of Tuesday, the GOP does not have on-the-ballot candidates for several Monroe County races, like prosecutor, clerk, assessor, and two judgeships. That’s due in part to the fact that Monroe County voters favor Democratic Party candidates. In the 2020 presidential race, Democrat Joe Biden won over Republican Donald Trump by a 28-point margin.

Responding to a B Square question after Tuesday’s meeting, Bryant said for township trustee and township board positions she’s heard some interest expressed from potential candidates. About county-level positions, Bryant said, “We’ve had some conversations—I don’t know if we’re going to get anybody for those.” Continue reading “Monroe County GOP gives greenlight to county chair to fill ballot vacancies”

SCOTUS abortion ruling prompts Bloomington demonstrations

Friday morning’s Supreme Court of the United States ruling, which overturned Roe v. Wade, prompted around 100 people to demonstrate later that evening, at the southeast corner of the Monroe County courthouse square, in downtown Bloomington.

The ruling also prompted a one-man demonstration the following day at Bloomington’s farmers market.

Roe v. Wade was the 1973 SCOTUS decision that concluded abortion is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Friday’s ruling concluded that it is not a constitutional right, which means states can enact laws that prohibit abortions.

Both demonstrations included light brushes with local law enforcement officers, but no arrests were made in either case. Continue reading “SCOTUS abortion ruling prompts Bloomington demonstrations”

Video: Race Across America leader hits Bloomington time point @ 11:23:40 on June 21, 2022

Late Tuesday evening, Nicole Reist cycled through Bloomington, Indiana as the overall leader in the 2022 Race Across America—a 3,079-mile west-to-east bicycle race across the United States.

Racers start in Oceanside, California, and finish in Annapolis, Maryland.

Reist has been leading the race since La Veta, Colorado, which was the 1,181.9-mile mark. She hit Bloomington’s time check at 11:23:40 p.m.. That was about seven hours later than her pace a couple days earlier had projected her to hit town. Her speed slowed a bit, because she took more time off the bike in Illinois than she had up to that point. Continue reading “Video: Race Across America leader hits Bloomington time point @ 11:23:40 on June 21, 2022”

Downtown Bloomington march for stronger gun laws: “It is not about rights. It’s about lives.”

On Saturday afternoon, about 150 people were gathered on the southeast lawn of the Monroe County courthouse in downtown Bloomington. They stood in silence for 21 seconds.

The silence commemorated the lives of 21 children and teachers who were shot and killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, two weeks earlier.

The reflective moment was part of a demonstration and march that was organized by Bloomington North High School students Ingrid Pendergast and Alexandra Shirley, under the banner of the national movement called March for Our Lives. The non-profit organization advocates for stronger gun laws.

Demonstrators on Saturday marched from the southeast corner of the courthouse square, eastward down Kirkwood Avenue to Indiana Avenue, headed one block north to 6th Street, turned west, and headed back to the courthouse along 6th Street.

After demonstrators had again gathered on the courthouse lawn, Pendergast and Shirley gave remarks and invited several people to address the crowd. Then they turned the mic over to anyone who wanted to speak.

Pendergast told the crowd, “We can no longer allow gun violence to be a partisan issue. It is killing us. It is not about Republican versus Democrat.” She added, “It is not about rights. It’s about lives.” Continue reading “Downtown Bloomington march for stronger gun laws: “It is not about rights. It’s about lives.””

Photos: Claim confirmed, bald eagle at Griffy Lake

Last Tuesday, after Bloomington’s board of park commissioners meeting, operations director Tim Street told The B Square that a pair of bald eagles live out at Griffy Lake.

There’s a old reporter’s motto: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

So on Saturday, The B Square checked it out.

Street was not kidding.

In the early afternoon, from the north end of the causeway, perched in a tree about 250 yards away, across the water on the south shore of the lake, a bald eagle was barely visible.

It flew off west along the south shore, then circled back, looped around low towards the middle of the lake, snatched a fish out of the water with its talons, and flew back to its perch, where it snacked on the fish.

The set of photos below, all taken on Saturday,  is presented in chronological order. It starts with a red-tailed hawk in downtown Bloomington, a great blue heron at Griffy Lake, the bald eagle, a turtle who made friends with a Canada goose, and a great blue heron at Miller-Showers Park.

Continue reading “Photos: Claim confirmed, bald eagle at Griffy Lake”

Pandemic notebook: Monroe County cases steady, hospital numbers higher, still under CDC thresholds

In its regular Thursday news release this week, the city of Bloomington announced 11 new COVID-19 cases among city employees. That’s the highest number of weekly employee cases in four months, when 14 cases were announced on Feb. 3.

According to Indiana’s state dashboard, the one COVID-19 death recorded for the county on May 25 was the second for the month. That brings to 276 the total number of Monroe County residents who have died from the disease.

For case numbers and hospitalization numbers, Monroe County is still classified in the Centers for Disease Control scheme as having “low” community spread. Continue reading “Pandemic notebook: Monroe County cases steady, hospital numbers higher, still under CDC thresholds”

Pandemic news: Monroe County could see “medium” level of community spread on next map update

The number of daily COVID-19 cases recorded in Monroe County has grown steadily in the second week of May after leveling off in late April.

Through May 13, the rolling 7-day average of daily cases in Monroe County stands at about 42.

That is greater than 39.9—which is Monroe County’s daily average equivalent of the 200 cases-per-week per-100,000 population metric used by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a threshold for its community spread levels.

The current CDC map still pegs the community spread of the virus In Monroe County at a “low” level—which is the lowest of its three categories (low, medium, and high).

But by Thursday (May 19), when the CDC map will be updated based on numbers through Wednesday, Monroe County’s category could change to “medium.” Continue reading “Pandemic news: Monroe County could see “medium” level of community spread on next map update”