Amenity not Economic Development

By: Diane Benjamin

Last night’s Bloomington council meeting:

Tari Renner and the Clerk had to be reminded Public Comment was skipped. I hope the next mayor can read and follow an agenda, Tari can’t (numerous examples from recent meetings). See around 49:00.

There was only one Public Comment. Ward 3 candidate Willie Holton Halbert took the opportunity to campaign in a shameless attempt to entice votes. She wants the City to involve citizens in the budget process sooner instead of at a Public Hearing in March. During the Budget Public Hearing no citizens signed up to speak. Staff did want to reinforce what I reported yesterday, the huge spending increase is largely from savings.

I look forward to the day when Mayor Renner is gone. His job at Council meetings is to facilitate, his doesn’t get to vote therefore his opinions are immaterial. He throws them out constantly anyway. One example of many: 1:44:20

The O’Neil pool and park was approved last night 8-1. Donna Boelen voted against, in her words “as presented”.

Donna does not believe this project is economic development. Most of the project will only be open a few months a year, it’s a Quality of Life amenity costing $11.8 million and paves green space:

Hear Boelen’s comments at 1.58:00

The City of Bloomington is building a park the people who formerly used O’Neil pool may not be able to afford. Various council members mentioned subsidizing the locals who can’t, Renner wants to use some of the federal money they will receive to do this. The future when the money runs out wasn’t discussed. They do think more revenue will be generated than the old pool did.

One big reason Boelen was against the project as presented was the elimination of the basketball courts until some future date. She is not against a pool. Renner mentioned this project could reduce crime, he evidently didn’t look at after hours and when the aquatics part is closed for the season.

Donna also asked what the future maintenance expense would be, she didn’t get an answer. Boelen also mentioned residents who use this facility are merely changing where they spend money. No new money is generated. Renner thinks people will pop off the interstate for a swim and area property values will increase because people will fix up their properties. Deputy City Manager Tyus thinks investment follows investment, people will buy gas and eat at restaurants. He believes this is an economic driver. The project also provides jobs, even if they are temporary.

Ever wonder why unions support democrats? You just read it.

Jenn Carrillo wants to make sure all genders feel included and served. She didn’t say if that meant both or the 78 or more recently identified.

The investment in the Coliseum was more than 3 times larger. What investment did it spur? Many years later Bloomington is still tossing money downtown trying to revitalize it.

The City could have merely done what was needed, a new pool. Instead they went with what the area residents won’t be able to afford without handouts. For what they spent Bloomington could have had an indoor facility. It could have been used all year and been the only one on the west side.

6 thoughts on “Amenity not Economic Development

  1. The city is playing developer and calling their project “economic development”. This is an amenity. Because they called it economic development it will be forever be linked negatively with the Coliseum economic development disaster. I am surprised they did not throw out the pool would be “sports tourism”, another destined to fail concept led government like local minor league baseball, hockey, arena football and a soccer complex,

  2. Yes, I’m sure the next great tech company is going to start, relocate, or invest in Bloomington because of a lazy river and some water slides. This is another in a long line of “something for people to do” capital projects reflecting the interiority of the community and its insular thinking. One gets the sense that these amenities are a distraction from an already anemic local economy and a class of government and business leaders that have no vision for the future. The 50/60 something-year-olds in charge don’t want to learn or try anything new nor put in the work.

  3. The $11.8M is cost of construction of the aquatic component of the park (and update of the skate board pad). Additional planned amenities to the pool will cost more as “funds are available.” The design plan will cost another $775K and soil bore testing will cost $300K…adding $1.1M to the project. So, the total is actually nearly $13M. The revenue, if people can afford entrance, might double according to Jay but the operations and maintenance could quadruple…who knows…no data available. Who spends money like that? No one with any sense.

    The $13M will just circulate around the community because the short term construction jobs are paid with tax dollars. Materials as well. The limited economic impact might be related to salaries of the employees who work at the stores who sell the materials for the project.

    Property taxes might increase on the homes surrounding the park but the current residents may not be able to afford the increase. Renner should learn something about fiscal impact…the second half of the equation for these types of government projects.

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