The Trades District, broadband service and affordable housing are just the tip of the iceberg for Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton’s first year in office.
Hamilton spent the first half of his State of the City Address Thursday night at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater looking back on 2016. He shifted focus the second half of the speech, focusing on what’s to come, including the approval of a $2 million upgrade to the Animal Shelter.
He also announced $150,000 to create an independent community financial institution. He says the city would benefit from more creative financing partners to help increase job growth, sustainable housing and clean energy.
Hamilton touched on bigger city projects too, saying the downtown Convention Center must expand with the county’s cooperation. He says it should be done in a high quality, architecturally significant way.
“It is a critical downtown asset and the I-69 corridor, in fact, is a new threat to downtown civic viability,” Hamilton says.
Several members of Axia were on hand to listen to the mayor’s commitment to bring world class digital connectivity to the city. Axia is researching their proposal of an open access gigabit speed fiber network. Hamilton says they’ll know within a few weeks if the service is viable.
Hamilton touted Bloomington’s solar installation that increased 20 percent in 2016. He says the city will add more solar panels on the police station and Shower’s Building this year.
Hamilton also used the address to confront state legislators who he says are crossing the line in keeping city council from doing their work.
“Let the state focus on the issues it should do like how about taking care of the state’s infrastructure including the road we drive to and from Indianapolis, how about protecting LGBTQ rights and healthcare and passing hate crime legislation,” Hamilton says.
State legislators are considering a bill that would limit inclusionary zoning, an affordable housing strategy that requires a developer to commit resources to market-rate housing.
Bloomington Council President Susan Sandberg says she agrees with Hamilton that affordable housing is one of the biggest issues the city has to deal with.
“Not just with housing, but transportation, childcare, food, healthcare and that’s ambitious but it’s what we want to do here in Bloomington,” Sandberg says.
Hamilton reminded everyone next year’s State of the City Address will be a little more celebratory as it will be Bloomington’s Bicentennial.
He ended the address saying Bloomington is in the middle of national political challenges and that residents must create the community they want.
“I have to say, I really like Bloomington’s prospects,” Hamilton says.