Monroe County councilors Marty Hawk and Geoff McKim
Monroe County councilor Eric Spoonmore
Bloomington city councilmembers Isabel Piedmont-Smith and Chris Sturbaum
Bloomington’s mayor John Hamilton
At a meeting held Monday night at the Monroe Convention Center, elected officials from Bloomington and Monroe County governments got an analysis of revenue from the countywide food and beverage tax. It’s a one-percent levy that has been collected since February 2018.
Buzz Krohn, of O.W. Krohn and Associates, told the group that the city’s portion of the food and beverage tax would provide roughly $42.7 million of bonding capacity—on the “preferred” option for bonding.
That’s maybe $1.3 million shy of the $44 million needed for the current project to expand and renovate the convention center.
Monroe County commissioners Julie Thomas and Penny Githens at the Sept. 4, 2019 meeting of the board of commissioners. (Dave Askins/Beacon)
Monroe County Convention center looking southwest at the corner of College Avenue and 3rd Street. Sept. 4, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)
Twenty elected officials are now scheduled to meet on Monday, Sept. 16, to discuss the expansion of the convention center in downtown Bloomington. The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. at the existing convention center, on the southwest corner of College Avenue and 3rd Street.
Bloomington’s mayor (1), the city council (9), the Monroe County Council (7) and the Monroe County Board of Commissioners (3) have agreed to come together to talk about how to move the convention center project ahead.
Monroe County should form a capital improvement board to handle the ownership, control and management of an expanded convention center in downtown Bloomington—that was a key point of a memo distributed Wednesday morning by the Monroe County Board of Commissioners to the County Council, Bloomington City Council and the mayor.
The memo was read aloud in parts by each of the three commissioners at the conclusion of their Wednesday morning meeting. The memo concludes with a reference to the “Convention & Civic Center project.” Board of commissioners president Julie Thomas stressed the word ‘civic’ when she read it aloud, and added “underline ‘civic’.”
By late last week, the Bloomington City Council was getting ready to return to its normal meeting routine after a summer hiatus. Councilmembers last met in regular session on June 12; their next regular meeting falls on the last day of July.
Based on some conversation at a work session last Friday, they’re thinking about how to set up the calendar for at least three topics they’ll be handling soon: a proposed 820-bedroom student housing development on North Walnut at the current Motel 6 site; possible tweaks to a still-pending ordinance that would regulate shared-use electric scooters; and some amendments to the new parking ordinance.
And based on conversation at a work session held by the Monroe County Council on Tuesday evening, Bloomington’s city council could in the next couple months be called on to participate in a four-way meeting about the proposed convention center expansion.
Some important pieces of a downtown development puzzle were slotted into place this week, as the City of Bloomington and Monroe County both made progress on separate real estate deals.
The transactions are expected to factor into a planned expansion of the county’s convention center, located at 3rd Street and College Avenue. Neither deal decides the direction of the expansion—at this point only westward appears to have been ruled out. The city wants to expand north. The county is not committed to that direction.
At the Monroe County Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday morning, the three-member board approved a $500,000 deal to purchase a couple of parcels making up the parking lot of the NAPA Auto Parts store at Walnut and 3rd streets.