On Thursday, at its first regular meeting since the end of January, Bloomington’s parking commission reviewed the protected bicycle lane project that’s going to be built on 7th Street sometime in 2021.
It was in front of the commission because the 7-Line, to be built as a two-way bicycle path on the south side of the roadway, will require the removal of 113 on-street metered parking spaces. It’s the loss of parking spaces that has generated some concern among property owners along the corridor, among them the Monroe County government.
Parking commissioners gave a unanimous recommendation in support of the planning and transportation staff’s finding—that the three-quarter-mile bicycle lane from the B-Line Trail to the Indiana University campus at Woodlawn supports several goals of the city’s comprehensive plan and squares up with the city’s transportation plan.
The 7-Line is a planned protected bicycle lane running east-west across downtown Bloomington towards the Indiana University campus.
It gets the numeric part of its name from 7th Street, where the 11-foot wide, two-way path will be constructed along the south side of the roadway, sometime in 2021. The non-numeric part of its name is patterned on the B-Line Trail, the north-south multi-use path along the former CSX railroad route that stretches 3.1 miles from Adams Street to Country Club Drive.
The 7-Line will connect to the B-Line just east of Madison Street.
The project has received increased exposure in the last week, as final design details are worked out.
Last Thursday (June 18), the project was introduced in more detail to the public. On Wednesday this week, the traffic commission was asked to weigh in on the changes to city code that are required for the removal of 113 metered parking spaces and the elimination of east-west stop signs at most of the cross streets.
A meeting held last Thursday by Bloomington city council’s four-member public safety committee got some initial comments from the public on the topic of policing in the city.
Opening remarks from committee chair Jim Sims included the statement: “We are here to listen to you, the public.” Sims wrapped up his remarks by saying, “A deeper look into the local law enforcement operations is warranted. We just know that tonight we are here, and we need to listen.”
Sims indicated there would likely be additional such meetings.
During public comment at the committee meeting, an appeal to sell the Bloomington police department’s (BPD’s) Bearcat armored vehicle—purchased two years ago for $225,000—came from a dozen different commenters. They want the proceeds to be spent on social services.
At its meeting on Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council accepted the recommendation of its Jack Hopkins social services funding committee and approved the allocation of $318,795 in funding for requests from 24 different nonprofits.
The program has awarded almost $4.5 million dollars to local social services nonprofits since 1993. In the last few years, the amount has been around $300,000 each year.
On Thursday, the city of Bloomington used a seven-day out clause in its contract with Ken’s Westside Service and Towing to terminate its contract with the company for public tows. Those are tows that are requested by city police, not private property owners.
The company could still eventually be licensed by the city to do private tows, under the city’s new program regulating companies who do such work.
Termination of the contract for public tows was the city’s response to a self-recorded video of a racist statement posted online by the owner’s son, commenting on the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd in late May. In the video, the son says: “That officer did us a favor… Ya’ll can hate me, do whatever…” In the video he’s wearing the company’s uniform shirt—he was an employee.
The officer to which the remark referred was Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who on May 25 pinned Floyd down with a knee-on-neck hold for about nine-minutes, killing him, a scene that was caught on video. It was the event that prompted nationwide protests against police brutality, including the local Enough is Enough march last week and the BLM-sponsored Black Against the Wall Facebook discussion.
Bollards for Kirkwood street closures stored on Lincoln Street across from the Monroe County public library.
Lincoln Street at Kirkwood Avenue looking south.
Kirkwood Avenue from Indiana Avenue looking west.
From now at least through Sept. 30, Bloomington businesses will be given a break on application fees for new signs, and on compliance with certain code requirements on signage.
In addition to that, restaurants and retail stores along Kirkwood Avenue will be able to expand their outdoor seating and marketing to take up more of the sidewalk than would normally be allowed. That’s just in connection with a planned trial street closure on the weekend of June 19.
According to Alex Crowley, director of the city’s economic and sustainability department, the relaxation of code requirements is part of the city’s effort to help the business community recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two three-person committees were disbanded by the Monroe County council last Tuesday. One was an “executive committee” established at the start of the year. The other was a “COVID‐19 budgetary and fiscal review committee” created at the end of March.
Councilors aren’t against the idea of subsets of Monroe County’s fiscal body working on public policy issues. But they want to avoid inadvertent violations of Indiana’s Open Door Law (ODL).
Last Tuesday’s vote made it about a month after the memo was issued, when the council decided to dissolve the two committees. But one member of the budgetary committee, Marty Hawk, had already resigned—around the time the memo was given to councilors.
Several new committees were established by Bloomington’s city council at the start of the year, on a 5–4 vote. It generated enough controversy that councilmembers continue even now on occasion to conduct implicit debate about the existence of standing committees, when they’re deliberating on other topics.