By: Diane Benjamin
The Council thinks they can make downtown a destination. The Coliseum and the BCPA were supposed to do the same thing.
Since the Council spent close to two hours last night discussing beautification and streets, it proves the MILLIONS already spent have failed.
There were some tiny shreds of fiscal responsibility when several alderman nixed making Jefferson a brick street because of the cost. You will see bike lanes even though seeing a bike in the lanes on Washington Street is as common as discovering gold.
They talked extensively about public bathrooms. You won’t see port-a-pottys, but they want something, just no idea what. They talked about making the downtown target area smaller to create a core. (Main to Center and Front to Market) There was also a discussion of “forcing” businesses in the target area to stay open later with standard hours so people know when downtown is open. It was compared to a mall with set hours for merchants. At 46:30 Black thinks downtown restrooms will encourage downtown festivals and events. Many on the Council think festivals and tourism will create economic development.
Around 50:00 David Sage suggested creating an App for downtown to highlight parking and places to visit. Alderman Mathy took it farther wanting kiosks pointing to various areas, supposedly paid for through advertising. (Did he forget about the Way-Finding signs?) Mathy also wants all downtown businesses in the core area to have retail on the first floor. He must not understand if there was a demand it would already exist.
The City is applying for a 50-50 grant for recycling containers downtown.
The Front and Center building came up. Around 1:04 Renner talked about using eminent domain. City Manager Steve Rasmussen claimed they are working on something they will bring back to the Council.
At 1:06:40 Buragas thinks the Council should just pass her task force plan. She also wants to go back to catalyst projects. She wants more people downtown on a daily basis. Simple economics prove shuffling the deck on where people go to shop means other areas will suffer if somehow people flock downtown. The markets make decisions, government plans aren’t market driven and always fail. See the last 15 years+ of downtown government planning. At 1:33 Buragas gets a little huffy about the Council ignoring the task force report recommending things like fancy shared streets:
If this story sounds like the Council was all over the place with no clear plan, you are correct. Buragas’s Task Force was all over the place with recommendations – many costing lots of money. Normal was in ZERO debt before they did Uptown. Bloomington isn’t close to ZERO.
Until the Council realizes (or is replaced) Bloomington does exist outside of a few square blocks downtown they will continue sticking lipstick on a pig at the expensive of everywhere else.
Alderman Bray was absent with no explanation given.
The entire Task force plan can be seen here starting on PDF page 11: http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=15904