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Bloomington Council To Hear Plan On Downtown Parking Meters

A proposal going before the Bloomington city council would virtually eliminate free parking from the downtown retail district.

Bloomington Downtown

Photo: Indiana Public Media Image

The city is proposing eliminating free parking spaces in the downtown area. The mayor says the plan will ease parking congestion in the city, while opponents say it will discourage people from coming downtown to shop.

The push to reinstall parking meters in downtown Bloomington begins in earnest Wednesday night. A proposal going before the city council would virtually eliminate free parking from the downtown retail district.

The plan, which has the support of Mayor Mark Kruzan, would replace many of the 1,200 free parking spaces downtown with metered ones. Kruzan says the move would help offset yearly losses the city currently incurs at its three ‘pay-to-park’ garages downtown.

“We’re losing, a ballpark of $400,000 annually on those garages,” he says. “You have to pay them off, you have to maintain them, you have to pay to manage them, and even with the rates we are charging there, we are not able to afford those garages.”

However, many downtown business owners are not pleased with the new proposal. Liz Irwin, the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce’s Public Policy Coordinator, says she understands the city needs to make up for loss garage revenue, but doesn’t want it to make any rash decisions.

“I think our membership can appreciate their position, [but] we are urging caution, and to not rush into anything at this point, until we’re really sure what the impacts are,” she says.

But City Public Works Director Susie Johnson says the city has examined how the meters will affect local businesses.

“We have looked at a multitude of cities throughout the country that have installed meters downtown,” she says.” We have found absolutely not one store that has closed as a result of metering downtown.”

Wednesday’s council meeting will hear the first reading of the proposal. The formal presentation, amendments, and a vote will take place at later meetings.

Dan Goldblatt

Dan Goldblatt is the Multi-media Producer for WFIU/WTIU News. A graduate of Indiana University, he studied journalism and anthropology. He currently lives in Bloomington with his cat, June Carter.

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  • Jessika

    This is good. Free parking means it’s harder to find parking spots, and there is more traffic. With metered parking fewer people who live within walking distance of their destination wil drive.

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