By: Diane Benjamin
The longer a City Manager hangs around their progressive ideology become more apparent. Tim Gleason was evidently hired from Decatur because he spearheaded redevelopment there. Decatur’s is busy during the day because people work downtown. It dies at night, they don’t have the bars Bloomington has.
Progressives think government creates prosperity and must therefore constantly grease the wheels of the economy. Look at the Normal’s Uptown TIF. As of 3/31/21 it earned $20,187,037. Normal issued bonds totaling $80,600,000 to earn that $20 million.
That $80.6 million doesn’t include interest which brings the total to way over $100 million.
What is a success in Uptown? I hear the Subway inside the train station is closed. The first floor of 1 Uptown Circle is still empty, Normal had to agree to ridiculous rent of the 2nd floor to get the building built, and other businesses have left downtown. Remember Ohmfit for one? “For Lease” signs are on other buildings. What exactly is a success in Uptown? A few eateries?
See last year’s TIF report, the report as of 3/31/2022 won’t be available for months.
PDF page 10 states Normal has invested $58,565,783 so far with a mere $60,474,024 to go!
The citizens of Normal get to pay the bonds when the TIF expires soon. Normal is charging ahead with Uptown 2.0 anyway because they will never admit the first phase isn’t creating utopia. I like how some readers have started referring to Uptown: A movie set. (See why Normal needs Wards?)
Well, Bloomington is jealous. Tim Gleason did an interview with WGLT: https://www.wglt.org/local-news/2022-07-27/bloomington-to-consider-transformational-downtown-streetscape-vision
Bloomington has already invested over $100 million in their downtown between the Coliseum and BCPA, both were suppose to revitalize downtown. The Farmer’s Market has done more than either to get people downtown, how many millions does it cost? A tiny sliver?
People hate parking garages, Gleason’s plan is an electric trolley to transport people from the garages to where they want to go. Does that include the late night bar patrons Tim?
I haven’t heard anything lately about the overtime cost for police to control the drunks. Is that still excessive?
Gleason wants a new streetscape to make downtown walkable. That could mean closing streets and creating wide sidewalks. Remember the Downtown Task Force plans that went nowhere because they wanted to move the library? That plan included streetscapes: https://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=15904
The plan recommended more on-street parking because people want convenience. PDF page 19:
“Local parking consultants estimate that the distance people are willing to walk between parking and their downtown Bloomington destination ranges from between 500 feet for visitors and one-quarter mile for employees. Where willingness-to-walk range is this limited—vibrant downtowns can count on walking ranges that begin at ¼ mile — it is difficult for downtown destinations to rely on public parking supplies for their access needs. It is also a sign that parkers find the downtown environment less-stimulating than it should be.”
The Downtown Task Force report is from February of 2018. Tim Gleason wasn’t City Manager yet, I wonder if he’s seen it. I wonder if he knows it crashed and burned?
Tim thinks making the entire downtown a TIF and spending $25-$30 million will create Bloomington’s own Utopia.
Circle back to Progressives. Tim Gleason has revealed he is one. A few people will create a plan the entire City has to pay for. Then there is another plan, and another plan. They call it PROGRESS, citizens call it tax increases. Gleason even mentions the library expansion (plan 1) and the water park only open a couple months a year (plan 2), downtown is plan 3. Bloomington has a long history of plans that have failed. Ready for another one Bloomington?
Progressives don’t believe in the private sector. Tim Gleason should review this story from 2015: https://blnnews.com/2015/05/18/front-center/
In the interview Gleason never mentions the empty buildings 1 guy bought many years ago, got taxpayer money to develop, and then didn’t. He is cracking down on parking ticket deadbeats though.
We are in a recession and inflation is out of control, it is the perfect time from progressives to think they can fix it.