Bloomington gateway delayed again by board of public works

After Tuesday’s meeting of Bloomington’s board of public works, it’s now not clear when work will start on the installation of a new gateway monolith at the north end of Miller-Showers Park.

In connection with the monolith, public infrastructure improvements are planned in the general vicinity of College Avenue and Old 37.

And those public infrastructure improvements require closure of sidewalks and street lanes—for nearly three months, from Sept. 27 to Dec. 22.

But for the second time in as many meetings, on Tuesday night, Bloomington’s board of public works declined to give permission for the closure of public right-of-way in the area, to allow for the infrastructure improvements.

Based on the response from board members to questions from The B Square immediately following the meeting, it’s not clear if the item will return to the agenda for the board’s next meeting, which is currently set for Oct. 10.

The project has received widespread and fairly uniform criticism, based on its cost and its design aesthetics. Continue reading “Bloomington gateway delayed again by board of public works”

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”

Miller-Showers showdown: great blue heron versus redwing blackbird

Miller-Showers Park, on Bloomington’s north side, is wedged between College Ave and Walnut Street.

The public park is home to lots of redwing blackbirds—which will defend their nesting territory in a pretty aggressive way. The B Square got a heads up from a reader that they’ve been pretty aggressive in the last few days. They’ll flap their wings against your head if you get too close.

Redwing blackbirds will defend their nests against any threat they perceive—humans and birds alike.

On Sunday (June 4, 2023), it was a great blue heron that faced the wrath of a redwing blackbird, which let the bigger bird know it was not welcome to fish in peace.

There are more photos below. To see a larger version of any photo, click on it, then navigate through the rest at maximum resolution by arrowing or swiping left and right. Continue reading “Miller-Showers showdown: great blue heron versus redwing blackbird”

Column: New gateway design would give Miller-Showers hawks another place to perch? Let’s do it!

The city of Bloomington recently asked for feedback on proposed new gateway designs—for the northern tip of Miller-Showers Park, and for the SR 45/46 bypass pedestrian bridge, near the Arlington Heights Elementary School.

The funding for the work, and the eventual construction, comes from the general obligation bonds that were issued in 2018 by the city of Bloomington and branded as “bicentennial bonds” in connection with the 200th anniversary of the city’s founding.

The total amount of those 2018 bonds was $10 million, split up into three different packages.

I can think of more practical ways to spend money than a gateway.

But if some of that money has to be spent on a gateway for people approaching Bloomington from the north, then at least one of the proposed designs makes sense. It looks like it’s basically an obelisk maybe 40–50 feet tall with “Bloomington” spelled out vertically.

Whatever its aesthetic merits, that design would give the hawks of Miller-Showers Park one more high place to perch, where they can look for tasty snacks, and it is easy for us to admire them.

Continue reading “Column: New gateway design would give Miller-Showers hawks another place to perch? Let’s do it!”

Advice for students: Bloomington is for the birds

As a local government reporter, it is not hard to justify writing about the fancy birds that hang out in Bloomington’s public parks.

The birds at public parks are a part of my regular beat, because public parks are run by local government.

Local government officials can look to the redhead ducks at Miller-Showers or great blue herons at Griffy Lake  as an example to follow: As long as I have been watching, Bloomington’s pretty birds have never violated Indiana’s Open Door Law.

But the public parks are not the only outdoor places in Bloomington. There’s plenty of remarkable birds in other parts of town. Continue reading “Advice for students: Bloomington is for the birds”

Photos: Redhead ducks return to Bloomington’s Miller-Showers Park

Around the end of February last year, I was alerted to the presence of redhead ducks at Miller-Showers Park in Bloomington.

Redhead ducks not permanent residents of the park. They were just passing part of the winter there. I had never seen redhead ducks in real life, so I wrote a column about them.

Since then, I have made regular visits to Miller-Showers Park looking for wildlife. And over the last year, I have been rewarded with sightings of a Great Blue Heron  and a Mediocre Muskrat.  I count this as remarkable for a park that is nestled between two of Bloomington’s heaviest traveled streets: College Avenue and Walnut Street.

I was hoping that the redheads would return this year.

I was prepared for disappointment, but on Sunday afternoon I was delighted to see they had returned. Here’s some additional photos. Continue reading “Photos: Redhead ducks return to Bloomington’s Miller-Showers Park”