The downtown dance


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By:  Diane Benjamin

Last night’s Committee of the Whole had a missing alderman:  Scott Black.

Two citizens spoke during public comment.  In an attempt to limit free speech, Mayor Renner stated that tangible positive comments or solutions work the best.  Tari, the Attorney General has ruled that citizens have a statutory right to speak, your attempt to control what is said violates their 1st Amendment Rights – also as stated by the AG.  See this binding ruling against McLean County:  McLean County 30194 BO 14-012-1

If Renner continues to bully citizens at Public Comment maybe he needs a civil rights violation filed against him.  Other Council members have attempted to limit free speech too, one alderman even walked out on a speaker.  You’ve all been warned.  It’s not enough that most of you aren’t paying attention to speakers?

Tari’s comments as usual failed, citizens that show up at public comment aren’t there because the City is going in the right direction.

For some reason the entire front row had reserved seating signs.  It didn’t matter – nobody sat in the seats.  I wonder who was expected but didn’t show.

SB Friedman presented the obvious, the last Giebelhausen plan was a disaster without funding.  Now he claims the Downtown Master Plan is out of date and needs to be redone.  He also stated the City should “vet” prospective developers to see if they have the capacity to follow through and make good deals.  The implication was Bloomington hasn’t.  (Read between the lines!)

Tari’s claims to fame are:

  • HyVee
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • Krogers
  • Green Top
  • Ovation Theaters

Note:  None are downtown, most are located in strip malls.  Green Top will also be a strip mall with two undisclosed other businesses.

“Circle back” to January 2015 when Tari gave a State of the City address, one of the many times he has declared strip malls dead:  Your-Opinions-Dont-Matter-To-Tari/

Obviously he was and is still wrong – the exact opposite is true.  I could add a pic of him cutting the ribbon at Dick’s opening last week.   The downtown is dead, at least for investment by anybody willing to spend their own money.  Many downtown businesses are not members of the Downtown Bloomington Association.  Many don’t stay open for First Friday.  If they don’t care, the citizens are supposed to?

The entire rest of the meeting was an attempt to focus the council on how to proceed downtown.  The downtown stakeholders want a meeting in September.

Another Downtown TIF will be back next week.  Hales/Renner are promoting just 3 blocks, some others want more area included.  Nobody mentioned that downtown is already in an Enterprise Zone and it hasn’t helped:

Alderman Schmidt suggested adopting the Friedman plan, see the last page:  It might make next Monday’s agenda.  The small changes are positive steps, as Alderman Fruin stated “Quit trying to eat the elephant”.

One of my favorite parts is almost at the end of the meeting.  Alderman Lower calls for refocusing the downtown plan.  Renner interrupts as usual, some back and forth ensues.  At 1:37 – Renner talks about having the largest private investment in decades – $53 million.  It seems to have gone right over his head that plan is DEAD.  Fruin and Hauman chimed in, then Renner reverted to the US Conference of Mayors and all the cities doing downtown revitalization.  He also references Uptown, massive debt must mean complete success.  Just hit play:









6 thoughts on “The downtown dance

  1. Do WE THE CITIZENS have to beat these silly idiots over the head to get them too DROP this downtown hotel ideal? Now we have Dicks, etc, and the streets NEARBY are in horrible shape, is that what WE want to “impress” out of town shoppers with? Come on Joni, drive in YOUR back yard and get the roads patched. Forget the hotel. IF it’s such a GREAT ideal, someone WILL build it!

  2. That meeting was so painful to watch! The Mayor will not let go of the idea of a hotel. He claims there was a $53M investment just minutes after a decision to have Staff write a resolution that Mr. Jeff G’s proposal was dead in the water. That hotel/conference center proposal was a fantasy and the Mayor’s comments are delusional. Had he and the Council spent the last 2 years implementing the Downtown Strategic Plan instead of wasting time and money on multiple hotel feasibility studies and plans, there would be much more progress in the downtown revitalization. If the downtown is to be a “destination” for visitors from local (within the city limits) and regional (within surrounding counties) areas, the entire local community should have input as to what would be attractive and desirable in the downtown not just the “downtown stakeholders.” The list of economic development projects outside of downtown is misleading. Only Hy-Vee and GreenTop are new to the area and they are being heavily subsidized by tax dollars. Bloomington “lost” Michaels and OfficeMax to Normal and “gained” Kroger (which has yet to be built) and Dick’s. All of those moves were driven by business decisions of the companies and had nothing to do with the mayor. News flash–Office Depot is closing 100 stores nation wide in the next year and so is Macy’s. Job growth and home buying continues to decrease. This community needs well paying jobs not retail and service jobs that do not pay enough to support a single person much less a family. The East Side wants their own library because they are afraid to bring “little Johnny” downtown to be exposed to cultural variations–“not in our town!” Rant, rant…blah, blah, blah…done.

  3. Bloomington Cycle and Fitness will be sharing the building with Green Top Grocery. They announced at the groundbreaking and is on their Facebook page.

    1. So, again a business moves down the street to a new location and leaves an empty building behind. That is called economic development??? That was the big secret of who was to share the Founders Square property?? This is campaign fodder!!

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