The Bloomington City Council returned to the discussion of whether to expand or relocate the Bloomington Police Department on Jan. 25. The council also approved funding for Bloomington Transit.
Council narrowly passes ordinance to fund the purchase of the Showers building to relocte the BPD
After the issue was postponed last week, the council voted 5-4 to reject a proposed amendment that would have prevented the use of bond money to purchase the Showers building at 320 W. Eighth St. as a new police department headquarters. The council then passed the ordinance in a 5-4 vote.
Councilmembers Stephen Volan, Jim Sims, Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Kate Rosenbarger and Matt Flaherty voted to reject the amendment. Councilmembers Sue Sgambelluri, Susan Sandberg, Dave Rollo and Ron Smith voted in support of the amendment. Those in favor of the ordinance were the same coalition who rejected the amendment, except Volan and Sgambelluri, who swapped votes.
Initially postponed from last week’s city council meeting, the issue of granting more space to the police department continued this week. The rejected amendment was initially brought up by Councilmember Smith at last week’s meeting as a way of opposing moving the police department to the Showers building, which is Bloomington Mayor Hamilton’s preference. The opposing councilmembers often cited Fraternal Order of Police President Paul Post, who said the officers he polled were unanimously against moving to the Showers building.
Councilmember Rollo used the phrase “do no harm” to argue against moving the BPD to the Showers building.
“We have a police force that has been crippled in the years past because of the inattentiveness for its needs,” Rollo said.
Councilmember Flaherty disagreed with the use of the phrase, saying that it is usually invoked to keep the status quo.
“I think we’re doing harm by preserving the status quo,” Flaherty said.
Flaherty also pushed back on the idea that the Showers building would create issues for police officers attempting to leave the building quickly. He said the current location at 220 E. Third St. may be more problematic due to the high volume of children and pedestrian activity.
After the amendment was rejected, Councilmember Rollo reacted with anger, alleging that deal-making was happening on the floor of the council.
“I think we’re being played here,” Rollo said. “And I resent it deeply.”
Flaherty responded, calling Rollo’s language inflammatory.
Council allocates funds for Bloomington Transit to enhance and expand service
The city council approved an ordinance to provide the Bloomington Public Transportation Corporation with up to $3,806,100 in local income tax funds per year to pursue initiatives to improve public transit.
The funds are possible due to an increase in the local income tax rate, which was passed by the council last year.
Proposed initiatives include adding service on Sunday, establishing an east-west transit line at a frequency of every 15 minutes, improving weekday service frequency, subsidizing transit for low-income riders and expanding paratransit for those with disabilities and microtransit for those who need transit outside of fixed routes.