About four months ago, in the third week of March, Bloomington withdrew its appeal of a Monroe Circuit court ruling that went against the city in its effort to acquire some additional land.
The city wanted to use the real estate to expand the footprint of a replacement parking garage at 4th and Walnut streets. The city was seeking to use the principle of eminent domain to force the landowner to sell his building and land at a fair price as defined under the law.
Last Monday (March 16), concerns about the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led Monroe County’s judges to use an administrative rule to petition Indiana’s supreme court for the temporary closure of the county’s circuit court.
One of the scenarios that allows use of Administrative Rule 17 by the local courts is “wide spread disease outbreak.”
The disease triggering the administrative rule is the COVID-19 pandemic. Updated numbers from the Indiana Department of Health on Sunday morning, March 22, indicate the number of confirmed cases in the state was 2.5 times the number two days earlier, including the first for a Monroe county resident. On March 20, the number of confirmed cases in Indiana was 79. The number on Sunday had climbed to 201. The number of tests nearly tripled during that period, from 554 to 1,494. Four deaths caused by COVID-19 have been reported so far in Indiana.
After an unsuccessful attempt to use eminent domain to acquire land south of the now-demolished 4th Street parking structure, the city of Bloomington has now unveiled a design for the replacement garage. The new design is confined to the footprint of the old 352-space garage.
Bloomington is still reserving the right to appeal its unsuccessful eminent domain action to acquire additional land to replace the 352-space parking garage that stood downtown at the corner of 4th and Walnut streets.
In her ruling on Tuesday, Monroe County circuit court judge Holly Harvey denied Bloomington’s request to have a second try at acquiring the 222 Hats property on S. Walnut Street to build a replacement parking garage.
Those options could include appealing the case in court. But an appeal would probably mean an additional year or more delay in replacing the 352 parking spaces provided by the old garage.
The garage was closed a little more than a year ago, because it was failing structurally. Demolition was completed in late 2019. The construction phase of a replacement garage is estimated to take about a year, maybe a little less.