City Staff 'Crystal Clear' On Prioritizing Historic Core | WGLT

City Staff 'Crystal Clear' On Prioritizing Historic Core

May 18, 2017

Construction equipment parked on undeveloped lots at The Grove subdivision.
Credit Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

Bloomington aldermen will again discuss and eventually vote on a budget amendment to strike a controversial sewer oversizing project on the city's far east side. 

"It's very clear where the gravitational pull is at this point," said Mayor Tari Renner during Sound Ideas on Tuesday. "My guess is at the end of the day, this might even be supported by a 9 to 0 vote to take this out."

The soonest the council would vote on the issue is during its regular June 12 meeting.  

The oversized sanitary sewer line totaling approximately $300,000 has been questioned by Ward 7 Alderman Scott Black and other aldermen who wondered why the project was prioritized over infrastructure repair in the city's historic core. The oversized sewer would serve possible future development on 13,000 acres north of The Grove subdivision on the city's far east side. The acreage is not in the city limits. 

Mayor Renner said he thinks city staff now has clear direction from the council when faced with future similar budget choices.

"I think that point was made crystal clear," said Renner. 

The cover of the city's 2015, 20-year comprehensive plan.
Credit McLean County Regional Planning Commission.

The city's 2015 comprehensive plan, "Bring It On Bloomington," prioritizes infill over other types of development and focuses on "regeneration" and "preservation" neighborhoods. The Grove subdivision, approved in 2005, is located farthest from the city's center, according to the plan. The plan indicates the city invested $11 million ($10 million for sewer, plus $1 million for water) to enable development in the area. As of 2013, the city only recouped an estimated $500,000 in 8 years. The costs detailed in "Bring It On Bloomington" don't include ongoing water, sewer, solid waste, or emergency services.  Lots are still available in the current boundaries of The Grove.

Renner calls the sewer oversizing project inconsistent with the comprehensive plan, and he said it's essential that the letter and spirit of the comprehensive plan is followed in the future.  

"We had about 8,000 people participate in that comprehensive plan and it has come clear guidelines with future growth that's compact, contiguous so we have walkable, sustainable cities for the future," said Renner.

Alderman have inquired about what else the $300,000 could buy and Public Works Director Jim Karch has been asked to provide examples.

"Certainly we could reline several miles of sewers with that $300,000," said Renner.

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