Miah Michaelsen and Valerie Peña were named co-chairs of the Waldron Recommendation Committee, a group appointed by Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton to give advice on the future of the Waldron building at 122 S. Walnut Street.
Ivy Tech, which has owned the former city hall for several years, is returning it to the city. That transaction is expected to be completed in early 2021, according to Sean Starowitz, the city's assistant director of economic development for the arts. He gave an update on the process at the Bloomington Arts Commission's Oct. 14 meeting.
Michaelsen is Deputy Director of the Indiana Arts Commission. Peña is Assistant Vice President/Chief of Staff for the Office of Government Relations & Economic Engagement at Indiana University. According to the city's press release, the city will be seeking nominations for other committee members. To nominate or self-nominate, contact Mary Catherine Carmichael, the city's Director of Public Engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-349-3406.
In addition, IU Professor Mark Levin is leading a Capstone class of graduate students to do a feasibility study of the Waldron. And a coalition of Cardinal Stage, Bloomington Playwrights Project and Pigasus Institute submitted a proposal to manage the Waldron. You can find a video describing that proposal here.
The City of Bloomington has released a draft zoning map as the last phase of a two-year overhaul of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), the city's main zoning document.
A public forum will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, Oct. 27 from 5:30-7 p.m. with a presentation on the proposed changes and a Q&A session. There will be at least four more meetings in the coming weeks to seek public input, as well as opportunities to provide feedback via online surveys.
A website for the mapping project also contains a proposed housing diversity story map, an interactive map where residents can enter their address, and information about opportunities to provide feedback over the next eight weeks. The input collected during this period will help city staff prepare for public hearings in early 2021 to consider and adopt the new zoning map for the city, along with text amendments.
During a weekly joint press conference on Friday afternoon, Mayor John Hamilton announced plans to close sections of Kirkwood to vehicular traffic 24/7 through the end of the year. Those sections are between Dunn and Grant, and from Washington to Walnut. The block between Indiana and Dunn will be closed weekends only. North/south cross streets will remain open.
Since this summer, sections of Kirkwood have been closed from Thursday through Sunday to allow restaurants to set up tables for customers in the street. It allows for additional seating with distancing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some restaurant owners have been advocating to keep the closing throughout the week so that they can set up tents with heaters during inclement weather.
The Bloomington-Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has approved a new regional transportation plan through 2045, with new emphasis on safety, transportation equity and climate change. Approval came at the group's Oct. 9 meeting.
Pat Martin, City of Bloomington senior transportation planner, noted that this marks the first MPO in Indiana to endorse a "Vision Zero" action plan, with a goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities and severe injuries. "Now the hard part comes in implementing the policy," he told MPO members.
The plan will be submitted to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) for their review and concurrent approval with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
Click here to view the 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.
The City of Bloomington is implementing parking via the ParkMobile app, allowing people to find, reserve, and pay for parking at over 150 spots in two app-only parking zones in Bloomington.
The app will be activated later this month for parking at these locations, which previously were free:
More information about using the app is available at Park Mobile Pay By Phone FAQs. The app-only zones are available to those without a smartphone by calling the number listed at the Pay By Phone sign (1-877-727-5007) and following instructions to pay by credit card.
The City of Bloomington is hosting a public forum on Oct. 6 to review a site plan for the redevelopment of the current IU Health Bloomington Hospital area. The event begins at 6 p.m. and will be held online. Residents can participate by registering here, or watch the event on Facebook or CATS.
Participants will be asked to take part in three 25-minute workshops featuring interactive discussions about the plan. The workshop topics will be Access + Connections, Open Space, and Land Use + Neighborhood Character.
The next public forum will occur in December, when the master planning consultant, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), will present a finalized plan. The master planning team is also working with the Hospital Reuse Committee, a group of more than 30 community members who have been involved with the city on this project since 2015. Chamber CEO Erin Predmore serves on that group.
Additional information, updates, and input opportunities are available on the project website.
Scott Robinson has been named the new Planning & Transportation Director for the City of Bloomington, a mayoral appointment that is expected to be confirmed at the Bloomington Plan Commission's Oct. 12 meeting. He replaces Terri Porter, who retired on Sept. 25.
Robinson has served as assistant director since 2018 and has worked for the City of Bloomington for 18 years. Most recently, he took the lead in developing the city's Unified Development Ordinance and the city's Comprehensive Plan.
In his new role, Robinson will receive annual salary of $101,418. The assistant director's position will be posted here in mid-October. Click here for more information about the Planning & Transportation Department.
During a 5-hour meeting on Sept. 16, the Bloomington City Council voted down an 0.25% local income tax increase proposed by Mayor John Hamilton. The vote on the 9-member council was four in favor, five opposed.
Voting against the proposal were Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Susan Sandberg, Sue Sgambelluri, Jim Sims and Ron Smith.
The Chamber also had opposed the increase, and CEO Erin Predmore spoke against it in the public commentary portion of Wednesday's meeting. “A lack of public process makes this tax proposal impossible to support,” she said.
The Chamber looks forward to working with City of Bloomington and Monroe County decision-makers, as well as state legislators and the public, to collaboratively address our community's challenges together in the coming months.
Two vacancies are open on the 5-member Bloomington Transit board of directors, which oversees the city's public transit system. Both vacancies are appointed by the Bloomington Council, with terms through July 2022 and 2023.
Board members are required to attend monthly board meetings, to serve in any officer role as elected by the full board, and to provide oversight for the organization. Monthly compensation is $100.
More information about Bloomington Transit is online at BloomingtonTransit.com.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is urging the Bloomington Common Council to vote against Mayor John Hamilton’s proposal to increase the local income tax (LIT) by 0.25%.
“A lack of public process makes this tax proposal impossible to support,” said Erin Predmore, the Chamber’s President & CEO. “Adding to the community’s tax burden is an important decision and should be guided by a clear community consensus. That work hasn’t happened.”
In an online survey of Chamber members taken this week, 73% of respondents opposed the current proposal and an additional 18% opposed it at this time. Only 9% supported the proposal.
The Chamber’s concerns about the proposed tax increase include:
Lack of public engagement. The mayor proposed this tax increase in mid-July, but there was no subsequent attempt at public engagement until recently. The proposal was not mentioned during the August budget presentations, when it would have been an obvious and relevant point of discussion. Feedback from the community should be incorporated at the start of the process as a way to determine whether a tax is needed and how much is needed, not after a tax increase has been implemented.
Lack of a compelling, sustainable plan. The current proposal is a grab bag of projects, including park trails, a composting program, a new transportation demand management job and more. The projects add to the city’s financial burden while lacking a coherent vision for how the LIT investments will be sustained. Before imposing a tax increase – especially one designed to spur economic development – the city needs to ensure a measurable return on investment and a long-term plan for supporting these investments. It is irresponsible to continue a cycle of taking property off the tax rolls, raising taxes and adding to the city’s financial commitments.
Lack of collaboration. This proposal harms much-needed collaboration between the city and county, and with state legislators. The Monroe County Council has issued a statement urging the city to postpone this proposal, and we agree. Ignoring county officials risks damaging the important city-county relationship, which is already frayed. Further, city officials need to build stronger relationships with state legislators. Speculation about possible actions during the next legislative session is being used to justify pushing through this tax increase. The Chamber urges leaders of the City of Bloomington to strengthen intergovernmental relationships for the benefit of our community.
There’s precedent for a different approach. In 2016, a LIT increase for public safety was passed with broad support for a focused purpose. The current proposal does not reflect that kind of community buy-in.
“Businesses and individuals are stressed from the COVID-19 pandemic and face an uncertain future,” Predmore said. “Without a thoughtful, collaborative process and a sustainable plan, we can not support this tax increase and we urge Bloomington councilmembers to vote against it.”
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy