$500K placeholder OK’d for master planner of hospital site redevelopment

At its regular meeting on Monday, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) agreed to an amendment of the project description for the redevelopment of the hospital property at 2nd and Rogers streets, owned by Indiana University Health.

A $500,000 placeholder for a master planner was one addition to the project review form approved by the board. The other was an increase of the total project cost, from around $6.8 million to $10 million, to cover the cost of possible infrastructure improvements. Continue reading “$500K placeholder OK’d for master planner of hospital site redevelopment”

Indiana Court of Appeals rules 2–1: Bloomington’s definition of fraternity delegated undue authority to Indiana University

In a ruling issued Thursday, a three-judge panel from the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled 2–1 to uphold a lower court ruling: The definition of a fraternity or sorority in Bloomington’s zoning code violates the US Constitution because it delegates to Indiana University the city’s authority to determine zoning compliance. Continue reading “Indiana Court of Appeals rules 2–1: Bloomington’s definition of fraternity delegated undue authority to Indiana University”

Bloomington city council candidate forum: Indiana University connections

Last Monday (Oct. 29) all five candidates in Bloomington’s city council elections—held only in District 2 and District 3 this year—appeared on Indiana University’s campus. They participated in a forum hosted by The Civil Society at Indiana University. Moderators were students Meredith Karbowsky and Taylor Combs.

The event was held in Woodburn Hall, Room 004, in the lower level of the building, which features slate chalkboards and auditorium-style seats, bolted to the floor, with built-in swing-up tablet arms.

The venue itself got a mention in their introductory remarks from two of the candidates. District 3 independent candidate Marty Spechler told the group he is an emeritus professor of economics at the university—and he’d taught classes in the room. District 2 Republican candidate Andrew Guenther, a recent graduate of the school, said he was glad to be back in the room, where he’d just recently taken political science classes.

Guenther’s opponent in District 2, Democrat Sue Sgambelluri, also holds a degree from IU and works as development director for the college of arts and sciences. In District 3, the other two candidates, Democrat Ron Smith and independent Nick Kappas, also have connections to IU through degrees they earned there.

Most questions asked by moderators were either directly or indirectly connected to the university.

Candidates were asked how they would strike the balance between representing student interests and representing the interest of Bloomington locals. They were also asked how they would ensure student access to quality housing. Based on some recent shootings that did not prompt IU Notify alerts, candidates got a question about how they’d maintain and improve public safety in Bloomington.

Climate change was topic that candidates were asked about, which was not prompted by a university-specific connection.

Earlier reporting on the forum by The Beacon covered the topic of white supremacism as it relates to Bloomington’s farmers market.

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From left: District 2 candidates Andrew Guenther and Sue Sgambelluri; moderators Meredith Karbowsky and Taylor Combs; District 3 candidates Marty Spechler, Ron Smith, and Nick Kappas. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Continue reading “Bloomington city council candidate forum: Indiana University connections”

Second Monday in October is now Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Bloomington

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Agnes Woodward, a Cree from the Kawacatoose First Nation in Saskatchewan, who now lives in Bloomington, returns to her seat after speaking to the city council during public commentary in support of declaring Indigenous People’s Day. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The second Monday in October is now recognized as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Bloomington, Indiana. This year that’s Oct. 14.

The city council voted unanimously in favor of the resolution putting the day permanently on the calendar, after Mayor John Hamilton proclaimed last year’s Oct. 8 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

It doesn’t mean that city employees get another holiday. Rather, the resolution says it’s “an opportunity to celebrate the cultures and values that Indigenous Peoples of our region add to the communities in Bloomington, throughout Indiana, and globally.” Continue reading “Second Monday in October is now Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Bloomington”

September 2019 was Indy’s warmest September on record

September this year at the Indianapolis International Airport was the warmest September on record, based on data from the NOAA Regional Climate Center. Records for the Indy airport go back to 1943.

Thermometer 13925024415866The mean average temperature for September this year was 73.7 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 2 degrees warmer than the  next-warmest September on record, which came in 2007. It’s about 7 degrees warmer than the mean  of all September averages since 1943, which is 66.9 degrees.

Last year’s September (2018)  ranked 4th warmest since 1943.

Records for Monroe County’s airport go back just a couple of decades. This year’s September numbers are the warmest since 1998 by about a degree—72.1 compared to 71 degrees last year.

Data in the climate center’s database for Indiana University station’s in Bloomington go back to 1896, but temperature data stopped getting reported in late August this year. The Beacon has made some inquiries into that. [Updated Oct. 4, 2019: The word from National Weather Service is: “The IUBloomington station is undergoing some construction so the site is temporarily down. The time table for it being back up and running is unknown due to the construction. But, it will be back.”]

Not counting this year, the warmest September on record for Bloomington came in 1933 with a monthly mean average temperature of 74.5 degrees. If the airport temperature were taken as a proxy for the IU station, this year’s 72.1 degrees would rank as the 10th warmest September since 1896.

Swapping in Monroe County airport numbers would be a tricky business—the monthly averages can differ by as much as 3 degrees compared to the IU station.

Continue reading “September 2019 was Indy’s warmest September on record”

Bloomington bus riders to get smartphone ticket option starting July 1

Riding the public bus in Bloomington will get a bit easier starting July 1.

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On July 1, 2019, Bloomington Transit will be rolling out the Token Transit app. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

For most Bloomington residents, boarding the local public bus is already easy. It just means flashing the right ID card at the Bloomington Transit driver. About three quarters of all BT riders can board the bus because they have the right ID card—one that proves affiliation with Indiana University as staff or student.

Those rides are taken at no cost to the rider—but the university pays about $1.1 million a year to cover those trips.

The convenience for IU affiliates is not purely financial—it’s also the option to board a public bus with an object they nearly always have handy.

Starting July 1, rank-and-file residents who aren’t affiliated with the university will enjoy a similar kind of convenience, if they generally carry a smartphone. Continue reading “Bloomington bus riders to get smartphone ticket option starting July 1”

Analysis: Buttigieg speech pitched foreign policy highlighting the local, but just one kind of local

South Bend mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg delivered a speech on foreign policy at Indiana University in Bloomington on Tuesday morning. I sat with the general public in the sixth row of the IU Auditorium.

It was a speech that seemed crafted to resonate in places like Bloomington and other cities home to higher educational institutions. That’s not all of America. Continue reading “Analysis: Buttigieg speech pitched foreign policy highlighting the local, but just one kind of local”

92 shades of green for Indiana on St. Patrick’s Day

Two teams from Michigan are playing today in the finals of the Big 10 tournament for men’s college basketball. The championship game falls on St. Patrick’s Day this year,  which might give an edge to Michigan State, whose school colors are green and white.

The Cream and Crimson crashed out of the tournament in the first round. So instead of cheering for the Indiana University team, fans here in Bloomington are likely passing the time puzzling over St. Patrick’s Day numerical trivia. Continue reading “92 shades of green for Indiana on St. Patrick’s Day”

Bloomington Transit bus ridership: Continued slide in 2018 with university affiliated ridership down 8 percent

Fresh numbers provided by Bloomington Transit show that total bus ridership last year dropped for the fourth year in a row. And the decrease was driven mostly by decreases in ridership by university affiliates—students and faculty.

The roughly 3.1 million rides taken on Bloomington public buses in 2018—by university affiliates or rank-and-file resident riders—reflect a 6-percent decrease compared to the year before, and a 13-percent decrease compared to the peak of 3.51 million rides taken in 2014.

The recent four-year downward slide follows a few years of slowing growth and a plateau, after a 50-percent increase in ridership from 2005 to 2010.

Ridership in 2018 was the lowest in nearly a decade. The most recent year with lower ridership than in 2018 was 2009, when 3.03 million trips were taken.

Bloomington Transit Ridership Trend by Year Feb 2019

Continue reading “Bloomington Transit bus ridership: Continued slide in 2018 with university affiliated ridership down 8 percent”