Around 3 inches of rain fell on the Bloomington area starting around 10:45 through half past midnight on June 19.
The thunderstorm knocked out power for around 6,000 Duke Energy customers, including a swatch of 1,500 customers east of the downtown square. The initial estimated time for restoration of power indicated on Duke’s outage map was 5 a.m.
The heavy rains that came with the wind and lightning caused street flooding in several areas, including East Kirkwood from Dunn to Grant. A car could be seen stuck on Grant Street in the block south of Kirkwood, swamped by the water flowing south.
The resolution on the council’s Wednesday agenda would also ask the city engineer to issue another temporary order to allow for the continued use of pick-up-drop off (PUDO) zones and “parklets” through Oct. 31. Parklets are the metered parking spots blocked off with orange water-filled traffic barriers to allow for additional outdoor restaurant seating.
The PUDO zones, as well as restaurant seating in the street and in parklets, were conceived as a way to help the business community recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
No fees are currently being charged to business owners for parklets, PUDO zones, or Kirkwood seating, director of economic and sustainability Alex Crowley confirmed to The Square Beacon in an email last week.
Crowley’s confirmation that no fees are being charged came with a caveat: “For now.”
How the private use of the public right-of-way is regulated is fundamental to the policy question to be considered by the city council this week.
Mid-afternoon on Saturday, I had a choice to make. But let’s not bury the lede with a bunch of boring background.
Shortly after making the right choice, I was listening to two verses of Blaze Foley’s “Clay Pigeons.”
The performance was by street buskers under the canopy of the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in downtown Bloomington. Janan Alexandra (violin) and Logan Carithers (guitar) are The Sweet May Dews.
The pair gave me a solemn promise that they would learn the rest of the song. (This could be fairly described as an overstatement, or exaggeration, editorial license, or outright lie. It reflects mostly my hope, instead of anything that Alexandra and Carithers might have actually said.)
This past weekend could have marked the final chance for restaurant patrons to enjoy a meal straddling the double-yellow roadway markings on Kirkwood Avenue. It’s been an option since mid-June, and was set to expire on Sept. 30.
But Bloomington’s city council acted on Wednesday to extend through the end of the year the authorization for the periodic closing of sections of Kirkwood Avenue to automobile traffic. The same action allowed for expanded merchandizing and seating in the public right of way.
The resolution, approved unanimously by the city council on Wednesday, also extended the easing of sign regulations for downtown businesses, and the simplification of procedures for obtaining a sign permit.
The council’s initial action in June came at the request of the city’s economic and sustainable development department, as way to help restaurants recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the pandemic continues. The same logic applied to the extension.
Expanded outdoor seating allows restaurants to draw business from patrons who would not choose to eat at a restaurant at all, if it meant dining indoors.
At least through Sept. 30, patrons of some restaurants in downtown Bloomington will be able to feed themselves at tables set up the street, in spaces where drivers normally feed a meter to park their cars.
Called “parklets,” they’re one of a few different approaches the city is taking to help restaurants recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s current 4.5 order leaves in place a restriction on restaurants preventing them from operating at any greater than 75-percent capacity.
On Saturday afternoon in downtown Bloomington, a blocked-off Kirkwood Avenue offered enough car-free asphalt for the Indiana University Student Foundation to run 54 heats of cyclists down a 200-meter course.
Kaethe Schroeder (SKI) and Robert Strobel (Black Key Bulls) prevailed in the finals of the women’s and men’s divisions, respectively. The Street Sprints are part of the fall cycling series tied to the Little 500 bicycle race held in the spring.
The first rounds of the Street Sprints included 24 heats, which winnowed the men and women’s fields from 167 total cyclists down to 32—16 men and 16 women. The remaining rounds were two-up sprints—only the winner advanced.
According to race director Andrea Balzano, this fall marked the ninth year of Street Sprints. For the first two years the event was held on North Jordan Avenue, but since 2013, it’s been held on Kirkwood.
Kirkwood, of course, is an avenue that’s storied not just in song (“Tonight, I’m gonna see my baby again, we’re gonna go walkin’ down Kirkwood, look at us go”) but in Bloomington’s public works budget presentations this year (“Pavement maintenance project for East Kirkwood Avenue…Delayed due to high contracting costs”).