$50K for “Public Health in Parks” gets OK from Bloomington board, after sharp scrutiny

A new program called “Public Health in Parks” got unanimous approval from Bloomington’s four-member board of park commissioners at a special meeting called for Tuesday night.

The program is a partnership between the parks department, Centerstone, Inc., IU Health Bloomington, and Monroe County’s health department. Centerstone is a nonprofit that provides mental health and substance use disorder services.

It builds on an existing arrangement between the parks department and Centerstone. The existing agreement is a jobs program—Centerstone clients work with park operations staff at landscaping and maintenance tasks. Also approved on Tuesday was an addendum to the agreement that expands the existing program.

The $50,000 in funding for Tuesday’s two agenda items was approved by Bloomington’s city council on Aug. 12  as part of a $2 million COVID-19 recovery package.

The board’s vote on the new Public Health in Parks initiative was unanimous, but came with some sharp criticism from board member Les Coyne. He sees the possibility of “mission creep” and wants the program considered in the context of the parks department’s mission. If it’s going to include social services, Coyne wants that to be implemented in the context of the parks comprehensive plan.

Coyne’s motion to approve the program included a requirement that the board of park commissioners be included in the initial evolution of the program, scheduled for December. Also a part of Coyne’s motion was a requirement that it be called an “experiment” not a “pilot”—so that “we don’t have any notion of committing to it in the future.”

Continue reading “$50K for “Public Health in Parks” gets OK from Bloomington board, after sharp scrutiny”

Bloomington public safety board briefed on 10 sworn officer vacancies, non-arrest approaches to policing

At a special Tuesday night meeting, Bloomington’s five-member board of public safety was briefed on the monthly activity of the city’s fire and police departments.

cropped public safety board Screen Shot 2020-06-23 at 7.32.57 PM
Screenshot of Jun 23, 2020 meeting of Bloomington’s board of public safety.

One highlight was the 10 open jobs for sworn officers reported by Bloomington police department (BPD) captain Ryan Pedigo. The 2020 budget authorizes 105 positions.

Board members got some reaction from BPD chief Mike Diekhoff to calls that have been made across the country and locally to defund police. Continue reading “Bloomington public safety board briefed on 10 sworn officer vacancies, non-arrest approaches to policing”