Attempting to guide a ship when you are merely a passenger of good standing will always be an uphill climb. As someone heavily invested in the outcomes of our community, this has never stopped me.
As expected, these outcomes rarely come out exactly the way I want. Recently, the City of Bloomington (COB), received an 8-0 recommendation from the Planning Commission for changes in the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). This ordinance provides the roadmap for planning and development. The proposal was what the Chamber considered to be improvements that would allow certain processes to be streamlined including adding or increasing parking maximums. Four meetings and public comments later, the improvements we wanted were excised from the changes.
Through perseverance, these positive outcomes are within the Chamber’s grasp. Often, a change in the environment can provide the necessary opening where all the hard work comes to fruition. Earlier in the month, the Chamber scored a pair of victories that were a long time in the making. First, the Monroe County Commissioners created a Capital Improvement Board (CIB). The entity will oversee the expansion and renovation of the Monroe County Center. The food & beverage tax was raised in 2017 to pay for this effort. Since then, there has been no shortage of strain between the COB and county on a framework to make this possible. Thanks to the tireless effort of the Chamber and its partners, we have been able to see the process through. The State has continually threatened to sunset the tax based on a lack of action from our elected officials. Our role was to dilute this language but there was only so long that strategy would work. Now we have seen four members appointed to the CIB, awaiting two more. Finally, expansion is in sight.
The second development was a change in the city code that now allows Bloomington Transit (BT) to provide service outside the incorporated. This language has been in books for forty-one years. As a result, service to the Park 48 area including Cook Medical and Ivy Tech College was off limits for service, despite being a mere 1.3 miles away from the border. As a result, residents of Bloomington were unable to enhance their careers through employment and education opportunities. The Chamber has been pursuing this change since I started here five years ago. This included in a transit summit to address the disparity four years ago. By working with both the BT and the council transit champion, success has been achieved.