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Ask The Mayor: Bloomington's Hamilton On Housing Study, Car Charging Stations

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton (Joe Hren, WFIU/WTIU News)

The city should hear from a judge over the eminent domain hearing later this month, the mayor is presenting 2018 Greenhouse Gas Inventory report, and Switchyard Park is on track to open next month.

On this week’s installment of Ask The Mayor, Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton addresses these issues and more. Listen to the full conversation with Indiana Newsdesk anchor Joe Hren by clicking on the play button above, or read some of the questions and answers below. A portion of this segment airs 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on WFIU.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Hren: The eminent domain hearing over Juan Sells Realty property and the expansion of the Fourth Street Parking Garage took place last week, how did it go and what happens next?

Hamilton: No one relishes using eminent domain, but it's used for big roads and public projects and a public garage downtown is a public use and we think we're in the right in this. We continue to try and negotiate and if the court agrees with us, then we pay the landowner fair compensation. We think it's important for the public to have a reasonable size and not have to build it way taller and more expensive.

We hope to hear yet in October from the judge. If it goes against the city, we'll decide to appeal and or redesign. We'd have to shrink the footprint of the garage and go taller or shrink spaces for public use.

Juan Carlos Carrasquel
Juan Carlos Carrasquell says the city is overreaching by claiming his property for the downtown garage expansion. (Joe Hren, WFIU/WTIU News)

Hren: The city has a passed 2020 budget, but no police contract as that's still under negotiation, is the city any closer on a deal?

Hamilton: The police contract expired at the end of 2018 so it's still ongoing, we've gotten pretty close then seems like we've gotten separated, I'm very, very proud of the police department, we are fully committed to supporting them, of course, budgets are never enough as everybody wants, so we're working hard to reach a resolution. We've had 16 offers back and forth, there's another meeting scheduled late in October.

Jackie via email: Several homeowners would like to know how The City of Bloomington Utilities and/or the involved utility company intend to remedy the major drainage problem caused by the removal of trees and vegetation along Graham Drive. At least eight homes in Winslow Farms are struggling with significant drainage and erosion damage.

Hamilton: Drainage on private property has been a long standing issue for utilities to figure out. We've developed a new program that is a grant program for private land drainage issues. In the past, we had not the authority to do anything with public money on private land. So contact City of Bloomington Utilities because that grant program round is coming up soon.

Second, it's good you're working together. It's good to collaborate on this. 

Michele via email: Tesla has had Bloomington on its list of cities getting a Supercharger for a long time now. Have they reached out to anyone in the city or county government about it yet? If so, do you know where it will be located yet? Has the city heard of any other fast charging stations that are planning to be built?

Hamilton: I'm glad to know that, I've not personally been contacted by Tesla, but you'll prompt me to check and ask. I do not know anything on where it might be, but I'm glad they're looking at us.

The new garages in the Trades District and Fourth Street will have substantial electric charging stations. I don't know the details of what kind. 

Ann via email: According to the department of Housing and Neighborhood Development (HAND), the City of Bloomington has hired RDG Consultants to complete a Housing Study. It seems that the results of such a study could have informed the UDO process. What is the point of doing it now when the ordinance is in the final stages of ratification?

Hamilton: There's always pacing issues. The UDO has been in process for well over two years and it's well informed by some of the challenges we have in housing. The opportunity to use RDG came because the Regional Opportunities Initiative, ROI, did an 11 county study on housing including Monroe County which we have right now to use. We decided to use that same company to dig deeper into Bloomington. 

One thing I always say about the UDO, it's a three-ring binder and we should not hesitate to pull a page out, improve it and put it back in. So maybe the study will encourage us to tweak it a year or two from now.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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