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Monday, May 27
The Indiana Daily Student

bloomington

Residents oppose mayor’s plan to close Lower Cascades Road to drivers at rally Saturday

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Bloomington residents met at Lower Cascades Park Saturday afternoon to rally against the city’s proposed plan to permanently close part of Old State Road 37 to drivers. The road, which runs through Lower Cascades Park, allows some residents to park and navigate the city.

In 2020, the city conducted a pilot study of the road, closing part of the road to motor traffic for several months starting in March 2020. The city allowed residents to complete an online survey about their experience in the park during the closure.

[Related: Bloomington Redevelopment Commission to sell land in Bloomington Trades District]

According to the city’s “Impact of Lower Cascades Road Conversion Pilot” survey, while there were mixed responses, approximately 60% of respondents said they visited the park less than they did before the closure. On average, respondents also overwhelmingly supported keeping both lanes open to vehicle traffic. In the survey, residents voiced concerns that closing the road could make the park inaccessible to those with disabilities, lead to longer emergency response times and isolate the park from the rest of the city.

Following the initial pilot closure, the Bloomington Board of Park Commissioners recommended the road reopen to motorists in June 2021.

Despite these results and the recommendation, Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton asked city council members to consider the closure and convert the 0.6-mile stretch of road into a pedestrian and bicycle trail. While he has not yet submitted a formal proposal for closing the road, city council will hear a report on Hamilton’s plan at their meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

[Related: County Board of Commissioners approve convention center capital improvement board]

According to Indiana Public Media, city councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith and City Traffic Commission Member Greg Alexander spoke at the rally in support of the plan, Alexander saying the road was currently not safe for residents to walk on to access the park. Councilmembers Sue Sgambelluri — who represents District 2, where Lower Cascades Park is located — and Susan Sandberg were also present at the rally.

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