Discussion and debate over next steps for Bloomington's downtown

The Bloomington Downtown Task Force presented most of its recomendations Monday.

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - Bloomington is looking is continuing to look  at the best ways to revitalize its downtown.

The Downtown Task Force presented most of its findings to the council, Monday night. The panel has been meeting for the last six months.

The recommendations center around making the downtown feel more welcoming. Amelia Buragas, who led the task force, said the main focus should be beautifying the city, creating walkability, and fixing the perception that there isn't enough parking downtown.

The task force recommended quick fixes, like bringing center and main street down to one lane, and creating more diagonal parking, rather than parallel. The final report mentions the possibility of repaving some of the streets so that they can be used by pedestrians, cars, and bikes. Buragas suggested using a block of Jefferson street as a pilot project. The task force also recommends utilizing more public art and allowing for more creative decorations, like lights, around businesses.

Alderman Scott Black says he wants to see the council move forward with easy solutions right away, like adding more events. He also said programs, like adding metered parking that can be reimbursed if you make a purchase at a local store, can encourage more patronage.

The council voted to cancel this month's Committee of the Whole meeting, where the task force was expected to talk about the rest of its recommendations, namely an anchor project. The idea of bringing a Connect Transit hub and the Bloomington Public Library together in one downtown building has caused debate among the council in the past.

Alderwoman Kim Bray moved to take that meeting off the schedule, saying she thought there were more efficient ways to get input from the community.

Buragas disagreed, saying the meeting was a chance to sit down and have a conversation with Connect Transit and the library.

The council voted 5-4 to cancel the meeting.


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