Bloomington city council OKs new conservation district, gets a quick lesson in black history

When the 1940 U.S. census was taken in Bloomington, Indiana, the enumerator who visited 935 W. 7th Street took down the information about the residents of the house from Ada Deal, a 40-year-old black woman.

She was born in Kentucky, like her husband, Maceo, who was one year older. The Deals had nine children at that time, ranging from seven-month-old Charlotte to 19-year-old Mary. They owned the house they lived in, which was valued at $1,200.

Maceo Deal, who’s listed as the “head of household,” is described as an “interior decorator” who worked for a department store.

Deal got a mention a couple weeks ago, at the Dec. 4 meeting of Bloomington’s city council. That’s when the council gave unanimous approval to  a new conservation district on the west side of town, where Deal used to live. A conservation district is similar to, but less restrictive than, a historic district.

It was New West Side citizen Betty Bridgwaters, who cited Deal, when she made remarks from the public podium.

Deal’s name came up in connection with some descriptions of local black history, which left the staff report about the new district “a little skewed,” as Bridgwaters put it. Continue reading “Bloomington city council OKs new conservation district, gets a quick lesson in black history”

Odds good for historic conservation district on near west side of Bloomington

Annotated R Map HISTORIC DISTRICT Historicxxxx

At its committee-of-the-whole meeting last Wednesday—the day after municipal elections were held in two city council districts—the Bloomington city council’s deliberations included the outcome of a different kind of public vote.

A referendum among the owners of 325 properties in the proposed Near West Side Conservation District came out 70-47 in favor of establishing the district. It’s the area roughly bounded on the north by the railroad right-of-way alongside Butler Park, on the south by Kirkwood Avenue and on the west by North Adams.

The council’s vote on Wednesday to recommend (to itself) approval of the conservation district was 8–0. The conservation district is planned to be taken up for a council vote at it’s Dec. 4 meeting. Based on the committee vote, it can be expected to pass.

Another, future vote among property owners, to be taken three years after the district is approved, will determine whether the district remains a conservation district or is elevated to a historic district. Unless a majority of property owners object, the conservation district automatically converts to a historic district.

In a historic district, any exterior alterations are subject to review by the city’s historic preservation commission (HPC). In a conservation district, it’s just moving or demolishing buildings, or constructing new buildings that are subject to HPC review. Continue reading “Odds good for historic conservation district on near west side of Bloomington”