Indiana Newsdesk’s Joe Hren sat down with Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan and talks about the grand opening of the new downtown transit center and central dispatch facility. Plus the mayor updates us on the 2015 city budget preparations during city council budget hearings this week.
Listen to their full conversation above. Here are some highlights from YOUR questions:
Michael from email: The Bloomington Food Policy Council has worked since 2011 on getting the City Council to consider passing a Food Charter that would express support for food security. How should the Food Policy Council advance this?
Kruzan: I’m fully supportive of it and really now it’s just a matter of getting on the city council calendar and it’s really that basic. The group has done amazing research, I think they started 18 months ago on this project. It’s informed me, there are other cities in the country that have done this so we’re ready to move forward.
Joseph from email: Given the events in Ferguson, Missouri this past week, what can you tell us about changes to the BPD in the past decade? What kind of equipment have these forces acquired? How can you assure us that any new equipment is necessary?
Kruzan: We’re pretty much a modernized force both fire and police, but the other thing that was important to us was training. If you look at Ferguson, there are a myriad of issues… one of the concerns I had was the kind of equipment that they have, some of that surplus material that came from the federal government, it’s not just the equipment itself, but whether or not people are trained to use it.
Chad from email: It’s been exciting to see all of the new development going on, do you see this growth trend continuing and envision any construction with much taller buildings?
Kruzan: It’s a fascinating question to me, because what I hear are people on both ends of that spectrum. Newer people from the community tend to look at this growth and think it’s phenomenal, this is a city where things are happening and growing. Those of us that have lived here for a long time sometimes fear are we losing the Bloomington we’ve come to know. So yes, it’s going to continue to grow, it’s going to get taller. In the late 90s early 2000s, there was a lot of pressure on policy makers to stop sprawl. The idea was we need to focus development in the downtown area.
Eric from email: Why will the 17th Street roundabout take so long to complete? Despite the various unique challenges of the intersection, it’s such an important road that it seems like it should be a project worth the cost of expediting.
Kruzan: He uses the right word, it’s cost. It’s been modified some because there are so many utilities out there that we’ve modified the size of it to reduce cost but also to make it practical to not have to move all those utilities. He’s right, it’s been the Bermuda triangle of Bloomington for a long time and it needs to be fixed, but the issues were where are the monies going to come from and if you take it away from something else, someone else is upset about their project.
Bea’s Soda Bar from Twitter: What are your concerns for the changes to food trucks and how it could hinder this small business industry?
Kruzan: There are food service businesses that have overhead and capital and maintain rent, taxes they have to pay and that food service trucks coming in, we need to be careful about how level that playing field is – the equity issue, allowing a food truck for instance to park too close to a standing restaurant. The surprise to us was how many came forward wanting to be licensed.