Home Supporting structure Bloomington will spend nearly $225,000 to repair aging Market Street parking bridge

Bloomington will spend nearly $225,000 to repair aging Market Street parking bridge

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The Bloomington City Council is split on whether to continue pumping money into the aging Market Street parking lot downtown.

At its Monday night meeting, council voted 4-3 to spend about $225,000 on repairs needed to maintain the nearly 50-year-old parking lot at the southeast corner of Market and Madison streets. But several council members said the days of band-aid approaches were over. What is needed, they said, is action for the prime location.

“I think maybe at the visioning retreat we need to bite the bullet” and address the long-term fate of the structure, said Ward 2’s Donna Boelen, who served as acting mayor because the mayor Mboka Mwilambwe was absent. In this role, Boelen did not vote.

Jeff Crabill from Ward 8 was also not present.

Also at the meeting, a proposal to offer a temporary amnesty for parking fines died for lack of a vote; and council heard a brief presentation on the proposed redistricting for its nine-ward system.

West Market Street Parking Deck

On the one hand, Bloomington executives have a general consensus that the game is too old for investing. On the other hand, the council did not vote to demolish the structure and make way for what to do with the space.

Russ Waller, the city’s facilities manager, told council on Monday that to keep the structure safe and open, repairs are needed. The board’s 4-3 vote awards Western Specialty Contractors the $223,687 contract.

Waller said in the post-COVID landscape, only about half of the bridge’s 550 spaces are in regular use. Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus said demolishing the structure would cost the city about $2 million.

Doing the repairs ensures the bridge can be used, said Bloomington City Manager Tim Gleason. “We’re going to flash and two or three years will pass,” Gleason said, so some sort of temporary fix is ​​needed.

“It also saves us time, in terms of a long-term downtown solution,” Gleason added.

Despite nearly a decade of talking about what to put in next, Bloomington executives haven’t been decisive about how to move forward. Several conversations about potential solutions are ongoing, Gleason said. He called the possibility of partnering with Connect Transit to create a downtown transportation hub there an interesting, but premature, idea.

Sheila Montney of Ward 3 and Nick Becker of Ward 5, among those supporting the contract, said that given the cost of demolishing the structure, it made sense to keep the parking deck with the minor repairs for the time being.

Voting ‘no’, Ward 6’s De Urban said she appreciates Waller’s points about keeping the structure running, but city leaders need to stop kicking the streets when he is to manage the parking lot. “The box stops here with me,” she said. Ward 1’s Grant Walch and Ward 7’s Mollie Ward also voted against additional garage spending.

Parking amnesty idea finds lack of support

On another note, a proposal to offer a temporary program allowing people with cumulative parking fines to pay only half of what they owe was sent back to staff, without a vote.

The members of the Council held a long public debate on the question.

As proposed, for 30 days those fined could pay half of their dues, with some of that money going to support a local charity providing backpacks to public school students. This 30-day period was to precede Bloomington joining an aggressive statewide collection program. The latter is still planned, Gleason said.

But in the end, no one asked for a vote.

Montney said that in total, only about 50 people are responsible for more than $175,000 in fines. City staff said they could not provide demographics of those fined. So she said she was worried that they might not necessarily have limited incomes.

Several council members said they didn’t think the halving of fines sent the right message to people. A $10 fine is capped at $38, plus late fees.

“We’re talking about giving them a nice little reward” for being repeat offenders, Walch said.

Waller and Gleason said that, logistically, the city would not lose money by seeking half of the fines because, so far, of the roughly 10,000 outstanding fines, only about 25% of the money was recovered. Waller said the city’s current system struggles to locate recipients of parking fines due to address changes and other issues.

Several council members have asked why the city doesn’t put parking boots on repeat offenders. But Waller said the cost and staff safety made it impractical.

“There seem to be a lot of unanswered questions about the lack of enforcement,” Montney said.

Public commentators Surena Fish and Deborah Johnson spoke out against the amnesty proposal, both saying that ratepayers expect the city to collect fines owed.

“If you choose to forgive parking tickets, what’s next?” Johnson said.

Becker, who attended the meeting virtually, initially said he supported the proposal because it would be a way for the city to recover some of the money owed, while helping the Back 2 School Alliance with its charitable work.

However, at the end of the meeting, he praised public commentators and other board members for helping persuade him that the program was not in Bloomington’s best interests.

Shared proposed neighborhood plans

City Clerk Leslie Yocum told council that the five proposed maps for Bloomington’s nine wards will be discussed in depth at council’s Committee of the Whole meeting on July 18.

The board is expected to vote on the final proposal shortly after that committee meeting, Tyus said.

City staff designed four of the plans, while a city resident submitted the fifth.

All of the proposed remapped boundaries meet the relocation requirement in a way that maintains compact neighborhoods, with similar populations in each. The proposed changes are intended to compensate for population shifts reported in the 2020 U.S. Census.
Tyus told council the goal was for each of the nine wards to be home to around 8,7000 residents. But the census showed Ward 7 is below that number and Ward 8 is finished.

The city’s proposed redistricting plans can be viewed on Bloomington’s website.

In other cases counsel:

  • Amended its fiscal year 2022 budget by $1.1 million, allowing PJ Hoerr to manage construction of the new South American exhibit at Miller Park Zoo.
  • OK’d two Local 362 collective agreements – one for city inspectors and one for support staff. Each group will see increases of 3% for the three-year period of 2022-2024.
  • Authorized expenditure of approximately $220,000 for a street sweeper, with plans to trade in a surplus unit worth $100,000; spending about $175,000 on three professional leaf vacuums and about $230,000 on a backhoe.
  • Voted unanimously to file a ruling on proposed changes to Cadillac Jack’s outboard seats. The board referred the proposal to the Bloomington Liquor Commission for further community comment. Two public commentators complained about the noisy events at the South Main Street business. Urban of Ward 6 said she also received several emails from constituents with similar concerns.