Give Now  »

News Contact IPM News Indiana Public Media News

{ "banners": { "tv" : [ {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-29-21-wtiu-wicked-bnr.jpg", "startingDate" : "1630209600000", "endingDate" : "1630295940000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-15-21-wtiu-bnr.jpg", "startingDate" : "1629000000000", "endingDate" : "1629086340000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-16-21-wtiu-bnr.jpg", "startingDate" : "1629086400000", "endingDate" : "1629345540000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-19-21-wtiu-bnr.jpg", "startingDate" : "1629345600000", "endingDate" : "1629604740000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYuMn%2bAFYFwp%2bq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-22-21-wtiu-bnr.jpg", "startingDate" : "1629604800000", "endingDate" : "1629691140000"} ], "radio" : [ {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flgkr2wNtsqwhq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-14-21-wfiu-bnr.jpg", "startingDate" : "1631592000000", "endingDate" : "1631678340000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flgkr2wNtsqwhq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-20-21-wfiu-bnr.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632110400000", "endingDate" : "1632196740000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flgkr2wNtsqwhq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-21-21-wfiu-bnr.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632196800000", "endingDate" : "1632283140000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flgkr2wNtsqwhq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-22-21-wfiu-bnr.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632283200000", "endingDate" : "1632369540000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flgkr2wNtsqwhq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-23-21-wfiu-bnr.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632369600000", "endingDate" : "1632455940000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flgkr2wNtsqwhq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-24-21-wfiu-bnr.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632456000000", "endingDate" : "1632542340000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flgkr2wNtsqwhq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-25-21-wfiu-bnr.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632542400000", "endingDate" : "1632628740000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flgkr2wNtsqwhq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-26-21-wfiu-bnr.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632628800000", "endingDate" : "1632715140000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flgkr2wNtsqwhq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-27-21-wfiu-bnr.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632715200000", "endingDate" : "1632783600000"} ] }}
{ "lightboxes": { "tv" : [ {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-29-21-wtiu-wicked-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1630209600000", "endingDate" : "1630295940000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-15-21-wtiu-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1629000000000", "endingDate" : "1629086340000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-16-21-wtiu-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1629086400000", "endingDate" : "1629345540000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-19-21-wtiu-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1629345600000", "endingDate" : "1629604740000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WTIUMCLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=2T6mTyo6yYtDgsQprWuZNm3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-22-21-wtiu-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1629604800000", "endingDate" : "1629691140000"} ], "radio" : [ {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flizvLEFSbjC6m3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-14-21-wfiu-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1631592000000", "endingDate" : "1631678340000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flizvLEFSbjC6m3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-20-21-wfiu-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632110400000", "endingDate" : "1632196740000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flizvLEFSbjC6m3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-21-21-wfiu-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632196800000", "endingDate" : "1632283140000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flizvLEFSbjC6m3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-22-21-wfiu-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632283200000", "endingDate" : "1632369540000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flizvLEFSbjC6m3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-23-21-wfiu-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632369600000", "endingDate" : "1632455940000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flizvLEFSbjC6m3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-24-21-wfiu-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632456000000", "endingDate" : "1632542340000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flizvLEFSbjC6m3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-25-21-wfiu-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632542400000", "endingDate" : "1632628740000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flizvLEFSbjC6m3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-26-21-wfiu-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632628800000", "endingDate" : "1632715140000"} , {"url" : "https://indianapublicmedia.secureallegiance.com/wtiu/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=WFIUFDLB&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=tAXekcDG%2flizvLEFSbjC6m3L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-27-21-wfiu-lightbox.jpg", "startingDate" : "1632715200000", "endingDate" : "1632783600000"} ] }}
true true true true
true
true
true
true

Ask The Mayor: Bloomington's Hamilton on lead contamination, high-speed Internet

Read Transcript
Hide Transcript

Transcript

Unknown Speaker
All right. It says this meeting is being live streamed. I will hit the got it button. Hello, everybody. Welcome to Facebook Live or on Zoom. This is Ask the mayor on WFIU. I'm Joe Hren. And this week as always the third the show on Radio airs on the third Wednesday, but we always meet on Tuesday. So today's Tuesday, third Wednesday, we meet with Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton. Thanks for being with us. Mr. Mayor.

Unknown Speaker
Good to be with you again. Joe, always.

Unknown Speaker
Let's start off with one of what we normally always start off with just to kind of get an update on the COVID situation. Are you seeing any trends? Masked mandate still, in effect? Are any trends changing that could change that mask? Mandate?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, you know, Joe, the trend, we, we were in a trend of downward cases, you know, compared to eight weeks ago are definitely better. But that that trend has gotten a little murky. We are watching very carefully. As we look at our numbers, we got below 100 cases per 100,000, which is a benchmark, but we then bounce back up above it. So we're still under the mask mandate in Monroe County. I'm glad we are I think it's protecting and helping people. We're going to have to keep watching. We're worried with winter here that indoor activities, holidays, you know, as we've talked about before, that can be concerning. So we don't really have a clear trend right now. So we're having to be very careful. Continue to do what we're doing. I will encourage again, people to get get your vaccine, get your boosters, I've gotten my booster a couple of weeks ago, got my flu shot a couple of weeks ago, those are really important to do to keep us keep us all safe. The hospitals got a lot of people still that are sick from flu and from COVID. So we just have to keep plugging at it. And the more people get vaccinated, the better off we'll be.

Unknown Speaker
And if people are, if people are confused about the booster shot, the state says anyone can get one if they want one, though, there were some restrictions. Are those still in effect? You know,

Unknown Speaker
you know, Joe, I think I went on the website and answered questions, and I got signed up for a booster. I think you should just go on the website. I think if if you're if it's been six months, if you're having an interest in getting the booster, I think you should go to the website, our shot and sign up. And if there's a reason you shouldn't get it, they'll let you know. But if you can get it, I think you should go forward and get it.

Unknown Speaker
Let's just get to the controlled burn it was a couple weeks ago and release some lead dust particles over a balloon to neighborhood. This was a training exercise with the Bloomington Fire Department, which was cleared if I remember from some of the press releases. I've been touching up because I was out for a few days but but but by I them. And I think everyone right now is just kind of asking or thinking how does something like this happen?

Unknown Speaker
Sure. And thanks for asking about it. Yeah, on the week, the first week of November, our fire department did what's called a live burn training with a with a structure house that was going to be demolished was approved to be demolished and the owner donated it to the fire department basically and spent a fair amount of money getting it ready for a burn. There's their state regulations that that require you to just connect the utilities and remove vinyl siding and remove asbestos and other things they and we did all of that the fire department did all of that to prepare it. These are done dozens of times a year around the state and they notified neighbors and we did all that all that stuff that was to happen and trained almost a 100 firefighters during the week on live, live house burn training, which is really important to keep them up to speed and well trained. However, on the day that it burned, the way it burned, there was a collapse at one point which happens in that can happen. There were there were flakes of lead paint, the paint that came off the house, which we assumed at the time, as we learned about that may well be led because they were older, an older house. And that has caused a fair amount of stress, both for the neighbors and for our fire department. You know, these these folks, every day they get up and go to work. keeping people safe. That's what they do. That's what they believe in. And that's what this is all about. And then it turns out that this burn, distributed some lead paint, which is unfortunate, everything they did, they did buy the book, they followed all the rules, but I think looking back, we wish we hadn't done it and wouldn't do it again. But it's been now about 10 days of pretty intense cleanup, there's been a very, from the from the moment that happened, the firefighters have been going door to door and sharing information doing clean up, it appears eventually hiring actually professional remediation firms to help make sure we're doing everything right coordinating with IDM, environmental management, all that stuff. And I can give you an update on what we know at the moment. But But right now, it appears that there was indeed lead paint flakes that that left the premises and hit some areas, downwind, it was not a very windy day, we wouldn't have done it. If it were, those are generally cleaned up. There's remediation going on, there's testing going on with air testing, and surface testing and ground testing. And so far, all the results that we've gotten back are, are negative for all of those things, except for the flakes of lead paint that got carried in the in the plume of smoke. So almost all of those are cleaned up too. And if anybody has any questions, they can contact us. And our fire chief Jason Moore is been working 24/7, frankly, to make sure they're doing everything they can. So the short answer is the firefighters did this to train themselves to protect us. They're very well trained, you know, they just got the top ranked rating that you could get the first city in the state to have that happen. And they feel, I think, very frustrated and regret that this happened while they were training. So they've worked hard to clean up. We're cleaning up very well. And we'll continue to do that and be transparent. There's a website, if you want to get more information about

Unknown Speaker
what I'm also trying to get at too is a little bit more of, you know, just that accountability with item. Is that something that the city, you know, pushes for, or I think that's what people are wondering is just how does that you know, how did that get by it? Well,

Unknown Speaker
yeah, I mean, I them I mean, I used to be the commissioner died him. So I'm a little familiar with that. They have regulations, and they followed all the regulations, we the Indiana does not have any restriction on the on lead paint, we if you're going to burn a facility, and this happens, I was told to there some two dozen houses burned in connection with i 69. Again, used as training exercises. And there's a very strict protocol, which requires removing shingles and vinyl siding and carpets and asbestos if there's any, the regulations do not talk about lead. Now there are different states that have different rules, but that's our rule in our state, which doesn't mean Bloomington should do this differently. I mean, we will do it differently in the future. But But I them follow the state rules and they've been helpful in the cleanup. They've sent people down, they've helped oversee the cleanup, making sure we're doing everything right. So this is I think an example where what the regulations let us do in order to train our firefighters. I think we view now as they need to be tighter or we need to have a tighter rule here in Bloomington.

Unknown Speaker
And then just to take that one step further for the city, you know, Bloomington touts itself as Pro environment doesn't allow I believe citizens to burn in the city because of toxic fumes. Yet, the city was burning a house in a core neighborhood. Were there any city officials even before this started saying Wait, you know, I don't know this may not be a good idea?

Unknown Speaker
Well, it's a good question. I mean, the open burning rule is actually mostly based on danger of where you know density and you don't want to have a fire start in one place and blow sparks someplace else. But and of course the firefighter the fire department was on scene the whole time. I knew about this we knew about this. My my my My view was let's make sure we're following all the rules. My chief emphasized how important it is we have almost a dozen brand new firefighters. We've saved 10 lives in this city, they have saved 10 lives in this city over the last four years by rescuing people from fires. And their ability to do that depends in part, significant part on their training. And this kind of training is something you can't get anywhere else. So it was important. But I think the question is, we should have asked is where the regulations, should they be stronger? We depended upon the typical state regulations that say if you're going to just burn a structure down for training, which happens again, dozens of times a year, follow these protocols, and we wanted to make sure they follow the protocols. But I think in hindsight, we could have done it differently.

Unknown Speaker
We've been told through some reporting that to gather harvest anything from gardens in that area, or other any other precautions that residents in that area should know about?

Unknown Speaker
Well, I think the thing we know right now is that the paint chips themselves are LED paint, and that you don't want to consume those chips. You don't want to break them apart or get them you know, there is lead paint all over Bloomington let me be clear, any house built before 1978 has led paint on it and a lot of houses have it underneath newer paint, but you want to be careful with it and dispose of it if you can pick it up with gloves, put it in a bag and throw it away. The other testing that we're not all completely through but the other testing about other environmental effects, incidental effects has all been negative so far, the white tests in the in the others, but we're not done with all those. So in the meantime, we're asking people to be careful, the website has a lot of details, paint chips, pick them up with a glove, put them in a bag, throw them away, leaves, if your yard was got, if you know that it had chips falling on it, you shouldn't mulch your leaves, you should rake them to the side. And we're going to pick them up and and deal with them separately.

Unknown Speaker
Now there's a map provided by the city kind of showing that containment area, we've been asked how that map was created, or what metrics were used because we talked to a professor at IU SPIA. And she was doubting the accuracy of that map.

Unknown Speaker
Well, all I know is we we've used the the remediation, certified professionals who do this work, our fire department is not a certified lead remediation specialist. But these companies are an item with IBM and those and those companies doing the testing, looking at where they see evidence of deposition of anything from the from the fire is where those maps came from. And they're kind of defined by different exposure levels. But again, the testing is going to be done pursuant to very strict scientific standards. And that's what's happening. Now, as I said, so far, the results are all good. But we're going to continue to look for those results. And if people have a question, they can go online and sign up or call our office, call the fire department and ask those questions. And we can share that. But the map was done by a combination of item officials in the certified lead remediation firms that we engaged.

Unknown Speaker
Okay, and then last question. Just last night, the city released another press release about the air testing not detecting airborne lead on November 5 And no surface lead on Thursday, November 11. So I guess the latest information right now coming back from the testing is that there haven't been any indications of lead right now. Is that is that was that

Unknown Speaker
correct? With the exception that we do know these lead paint flakes did have they do have led in them like much of the paint in our city but and so those were very sensitive to and we're looking for evidence other places, we just haven't found it anywhere and hope we don't in will continue to share information as soon as we get it. And again, I guess I want to let me just close by saying firefighters work really hard every day to keep us all safe. They are they did everything they're supposed to do according to the rules of the state of doing a controlled burn in order to keep them at the best trained level to keep us safe. And we've had no fatalities in the city for four years, which is a great thing. However, we learned a lesson here I think which is that those those state rules we probably need to take them up a notch locally and revisit that and I don't think you'll see us doing another burn like this in the city.

Unknown Speaker
I seven line dedication ceremony is set for Wednesday at 1130. am it's a curb bike lane that's on Seventh Street. In addition to that stop signs also removed making that street more of a thoroughfare. Are motorists adjusting to the no stop signs and is or are there? There have been more accidents on Seventh Street.

Unknown Speaker
Well, thanks, Joe. Everyone's welcome to come Wednesday at 1130 If you want to be there for the ribbon cutting and take a little ride along the along the seven line this is part of the Bicentennial gift the Bicentennial group of projects we as a community funded in 2018. And it's really trying to create a real strong east west corridor for pedestrians and bicyclists that not quite like the Beeline but it's as close as we could get along the street. It's a beautiful new way for bicyclists and pedestrians and buses by the way to get across town. As you said we have changed it to give more direct east west traffic fewer stops for buses bikes as well as automobiles it's a thinner street now for automobiles. So they're by Watch out Be careful. I've heard of a couple fender benders as as we've got a bunch of signage up reminding people cross traffic does not stop this does not officially stop anymore. I haven't heard of anything major. But we you know the changes like that we can we need to encourage people to be careful. But come on out and we'll dedicate it to on Wednesday. And that the plan is to continue it east past campus, ultimately all the way through to the east side to create another link. A great East West link for for non auto traffic.

Unknown Speaker
The city had to reconstruct their a section where Buses couldn't turn. BT transit said the nose of the bus was going over the other lane having a problem with those Lane widths. So just wondering, I I know, I realize I've read that the width of the lanes are within what specs but the buses are having trouble. Is that something being addressed or why wasn't that addressed ahead of time?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, no, I John Connell, who's the new director of Bloomington transit, doing a great job, the drivers are doing a great job, everything's working fine. They're a little tweaks here and there with the exact little turn radius. And I think at Indiana and seventh, but that got tweaked it wasn't a big deal. It's a you know, this, the buses are. It's been it's been a common route for buses along Seventh Street. And actually it was, we were having more accidents because of the parking on both sides of the road with a bus with the mirrors. And all that was a little trickier than what it is now I think. And we know the bus drivers will navigate it well and just encourage everybody. If you're if you're in a vehicle, be careful and be be safe, because this is meant to really encourage and welcome pedestrians and bicyclists as well.

Unknown Speaker
Is there a timeframe on the east part of that? Fine,

Unknown Speaker
Joe? It's it's No, not yet. We are working on the Greenway, I think part of it next year. So what we have is from the Beeline East all the way to Woodlawn on IU campus. If you know IU campus, they've got a pretty good connector through campus along Seventh Street by the fountain and the cinema and across there. But then from Jordan east, and then on to union and going east from there is what will be the next phase. And we're working with IU and we're working with the neighborhoods east of union, out to the bypass for the next year to look at what we can do to help keep bicyclists welcome and safe and using this new route.

Unknown Speaker
So other big news, this was just announced this morning, or just a couple hours ago actually the city announced a letter of intent with it meridiem Yeah, a city wide high speed fiber network, something that's been on your agenda since 2016. And you said this and state of the city addresses that high speed internet should be considered a utility something such as water in this day of of a so could you begin by maybe explaining where is Meridian based out of and what sets them apart from others in establishing this relationship?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, Joe, thanks for asking about this has been a really big project we've been working on. And I'm very pleased that we found a new partner and a new partner has found us from the beginning, I've said it's it's it would be hugely valuable for Bloomington to have fibre to the home, high speed fiber network that would cover our city. We have some fiber in the city and some of our providers are expanding that but they tend to do it in a way that reaches pockets and gets actually tends to be higher income and high density places that they'll put fiber in this is that what we've said is we want everybody to have access to fiber. And the other thing is asked for and looked for is a network that would be open to users different users. Right now, it's kind of like we have a set of private roads. And each company builds its own roads to get to your house to deliver what they want to deliver to you. It's much more efficient, and we think valuable for the city to have a public set of road, not public, but open set of roads. So UPS, FedEx and postal service can all use the roads to get your house so that internet service providers can all compete, radium has come forward with that kind of project to build over $40 million investment in the city to build a city wide high speed broadband fiber network that would cover virtually the whole city, that will be open structure, meaning there will be a brief period of one provider but it is designed to be open to multiple users that meaning anyone from Smithville, to Comcast, at&t, if they want to use it to any internet provider, can come to town, get you as a customer and sell you their internet service. So it's a much more competitive model. There's also a strong commitment to digital equity, which we'll be working on and sharing details later. But we we want to make this very much an infrastructure that helps lower income households, households with kids who who are going to school who otherwise have access issues, so we'll be working on those details. But having this is in will be in can be a game changer for the community. So we've been working on it for really for five plus years, six years almost. And I we announced today that we have this letter of intent. meridiem is an international company, they're originally based came out of France, Europe, they work all across the world, they have a North American company headquartered in New York that is doing North America investments, including digital, and we're their first us they're in Canada, where their first us stop, I think, and they've been looking at middle sized cities like us, we're very pleased to be partnering with them in this.

Unknown Speaker
So when you say they invest $40 million, then what do they get out of it? How do they recoup their cost?

Unknown Speaker
They basically, if you think about it, it's kind of like building a digital road system that they then charge tolls to anybody who uses it. So the first thing they'll do is they'll have an Internet service provider that will provide internet services and recruit and and find customers in the city, who they will sell internet connectivity to at very high speeds, gigabit speed 500 megabyte those, and they will pay the owner of the pipes, the owner of that radium will get paid at least the by those that kind of company. Ultimately, having a digital network all across your city can offer all kinds of ways for services to be provided. So they build the infrastructure and then lease its access to anybody who wants to use it.

Unknown Speaker
And this is different, just as everybody knows, from just regular internet, this is high speed internet, correct?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, so comparison, I mean, many of us have at&t and Comcast home speeds, which may be 25 megabytes, up and down, maybe five, maybe 50, maybe 75 megabytes up and down. Digital fiber let you get 1000 megabytes up and down, that's a gigabyte, or 500. And at that speed, you're it's a it's a very different kind of experience. You know, we've all learned about zoom buffering and download issues and those kinds of things. And this is the this is the this is the digital infrastructure we should have in America. And we're getting there. But this is this is an important really important step forward. It'll really help home healthcare, it'll help home businesses, it'll help home education, our access to the to the whole digital world, even gamers I'll mentioned it'll be helpful for gamers too. But but mostly it's a it's a huge, it's like getting electricity in a way. It's a new level of infrastructure.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, especially in media, you think about 4k and Ultra HD and so forth. What about the local, we talk about Smithville? Thank you. I did hear you say earlier that they can jump on this project down the road? Is this something that there's a role for them earlier on as well?

Unknown Speaker
Well, I hope so. And they certainly are welcome to talk to this company. I mean, in a way this is meridiem that's come to us and said we want to invest in your community. It's kind of like a business says we want to locate in your town. We like what you're doing and we want to be part of that. They've said that, you know the current providers models tend to be we build the network. that connects you to our services. And if we sell you a TV or, or phone or or internet connection, we build the line to get to you and you pay us. And if you switch from one to the other, they got to build a different line to your house. This is a different model. I think it's a more efficient model. And it's, it's, we're pleased to be going this direction, because this model is more like our roads, where we let anybody use our roads to deliver packages to you. If you think about internet as a package, we want to welcome competition and welcome people. And it should be easy for you, frankly, as a customer to say, You know what, you're not selling me the services I want, I want to switch. This is much easier to switch because the connectivity is already there, and somebody else will be able to step in. And I think

Unknown Speaker
what I've read too, from that press release is that this also looks at low income, and also the areas that are that could be annexed Correct.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah. So there's a commitment to cover all of the current city of Bloomington, including all of our low income areas, and then we've we've will have to get it finalized. But we expect and they've committed to say if you annex new areas, if they become part of the city, we'll make sure they get this high speed, gigabit internet as well.

Unknown Speaker
I know we just have a couple minutes left, but I wanted to ask you about the Bloomington Palo Alto, establishing his first ever domestic sibling city relationship. So what's that? And what do both cities hope to get from it? Well, thanks, Joe.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, we're very excited that actually just passed the Palo Alto City Council. This week, Monday night, I was on it. I think midnight our time nine o'clock their time to talk to their city council. So many people are aware of Sister Cities, we've called them international Sister Cities. We have a couple here, Bloomington in Cuba and Nicaragua. The idea of connecting people from different cultures and trying to expand learning and, and relationships. There's a there's a project that developed called sibling City USA, that I think the the backdrop is, man, there's a lot of misunderstanding, there's a lot of stereotyping that goes on inside our country today. There's a lot of divisive pneus, there's a lot of hostility, even between coasts and mid mid center of the country. And people think we're different countries, and we're different kinds of people. And this is a project that's really meant to say, you know, it would be really helpful for communities to pair up, share information, exchange people ideas, business opportunities, cultural opportunities, civic engagement, in ways that remote that can tell us Look, just because your city on the coast in California, silicon, the home of Silicon Valley, and a big blue state, and you're in a huge urban metropolis, connecting with a city like Bloomington that's in the middle of a more conservative state in a rural area. We can learn from each other, I think the goal is to help knit the country back together a little bit. Remember, we're all part of the United States of America. And we we share much more than we than we have differences. And also, frankly, to make new friends and, you know, have some interesting educational experiences and, and commercial experiences. And and I think the opportunities are really big. They'll be driven mostly by our community members, whether it's a drama teacher or the mill, you know, innovative entrepreneur, or whether it's a city council member, I don't know. And we'll find out over the next year kind of where this goes. But I'm very excited. I'm pleased. I think it's a great partnership with, again, the home of Silicon Valley and the center of that, that whole Metropolis out there that connects us with in a new way. By the way, there's a bunch of IU alumni out there too, that we think may enjoy this connection back to Bloomington.

Unknown Speaker
All right. Well, I know we're out of time, this boy, this half hour always goes so fast. But I do like to leave you with the last word you have any other announcements or things that you'd like to say?

Unknown Speaker
Thanks so much, Joe, I think I would just say we're approaching the holidays, I hope people will be careful and enjoy. These are really nice times of course to be with family. But remember, we're not out of the woods on the on the pandemic. We're still losing people to the pandemic and certainly people are getting sick and take care of your loved ones and each other by by taking care of each other and being safe. Bloomington is a wonderful place to be in during the holidays, if you want to come down. Friday after Thanksgiving we'll have we will have the traditional outdoors, lighting of the square that beautiful event. So you're welcome to come and join us for that around 630. All right, thank

Unknown Speaker
you very much. Thanks for watching. If you'd like to submit your question, it's news at Indiana public media.org. Again, Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for being with us today. Good to be with you, Joe. See you next month. Oh Okay bye bye
Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton during Tuesday's Zoom interview. (Zoom)

Hamilton says in hindsight the controlled burn should have been done differently, the 7-Line dedication is set for Wednesday, and the city has a letter of intent with a developer to install high-speed Internet throughout the city.

In this week’s installment of Ask The Mayor, Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton addresses these issues and more during a Facebook Live Zoom event Tuesday. 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. Here are some highlights.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Hren: Let's begin with COVID, any trends right now that could indicate the expiration of the mask mandate?

Hamilton: We were in a trend of downward cases, compared to eight weeks ago - are definitely better. But that trend has gotten a little murky. As we look at our numbers, we got below 100 cases per 100,000, which is a benchmark, but we then bounce back up above it. So we're still under the mask mandate in Monroe County.

We're worried with winter here that indoor activities, holidays, that can be concerning. So we don't really have a clear trend right now. I will encourage again, people to get get your vaccine, get your boosters, I've gotten my booster a couple of weeks ago, got my flu shot a couple of weeks ago, those are really important to do to keep us keep us all safe.

Hren: There might be confusion about the booster, the state says anyone can get one, but some places list restrictions like age?

Hamilton: I think if it's been six months, if you're having an interest in getting the booster, I think you should go to the website and sign up. And if there's a reason you shouldn't get it, they'll let you know. But if you can get it, I think you should go forward and get it.

residents watch a controlled burn of a house on South High Street last Friday.
Air tests in the area affected by the Nov. 5 controlled burn on South High Street showed no lead dust contamination, according to a press release from the city. (Courtesy photo)

Hren: Let's just get to the controlled burn that released lead dust and particles over a neighborhood. This was a training exercise with the Bloomington Fire Department, which was cleared by IDEM. And I think everyone right now is asking or thinking how does something like this even happen?

Hamilton: On the first week of November, our fire department did what's called a live burn training with a structure house that was approved to be demolished and the owner donated it to the fire department basically and spent a fair amount of money getting it ready for a burn. There are state regulations that require you to disconnect the utilities and remove vinyl siding and remove asbestos and other things. We did all of that - the fire department did all of that to prepare it.

However, on the day that it burned, there was a collapse at one point which happens. There were flakes of lead paint that came off the house, as we learned about that may well be lead because it was an older house. And that has caused a fair amount of stress, both for the neighbors and for our fire department. These folks every day they get up and go to work keeping people safe. And then it turns out that this burn, distributed some lead paint, which is unfortunate, everything they did, they did by the book, they followed all the rules, but I think looking back, we wish we hadn't done it and wouldn't do it again.

READ MORE: City says air tests show no lead contamination in area affected by controlled burn

Hren: What I'm trying to get at too is a little bit more of accountability with IDEM? Is that something the city is looking into?

Hamilton: I used to be the commissioner of IDEM, so I'm a little familiar with that. They have regulations, and they followed all the regulations. Indiana does not have any restriction on lead paint. The regulations do not talk about lead. Now there are different states that have different rules, but that's our rule in our state, which doesn't mean Bloomington should do this differently. I mean, we will do it differently in the future. But IDEM follows the state rules and they've been helpful in the cleanup.

Hren: Bloomington touts itself as pro-environment - doesn't allow citizens to burn in the city. Yet, the city was burning a house in a core neighborhood. Were there any city officials before this started saying wait, I don't know... this may not be a good idea?

Hamilton: Well, it's a good question. The open burning rule is actually mostly based on danger and you don't want to have a fire start in one place and blow sparks someplace else. I knew about this. My view was let's make sure we're following all the rules. My chief emphasized how important it is - we have almost a dozen brand new firefighters. They have saved 10 lives in this city over the last four years by rescuing people from fires.

But I think we should have asked - where the regulations, should they be stronger? We depended upon the typical state regulations. But I think in hindsight, we could have done it differently.

7-Line
7th and Walnut Streets (Courtesy: City of Bloomington)

Hren: The city had to reconstruct a new section of the 7-Line project where busses couldn't turn properly. I realize the width of the lanes are within specs but the buses are having trouble. Is that being addressed or why wasn't that addressed ahead of time?

Hamilton: John Connell, who's the new director of Bloomington Transit, doing a great job, the drivers are doing a great job, everything's working fine. There are little tweaks here and there with the exact little turn radius. And I think at Indiana and Seventh, but that got tweaked it wasn't a big deal. And actually we were having more accidents because of the parking on both sides of the road with a bus with the mirrors. And all that was a little trickier than what it is now I think.

READ MORE: 7-Line protected bike lane officially opens Wednesday

Hren: The city announced a letter of intent with Meridiam, a city-wide high-speed fiber network, something that's been on your agenda since 2016. Could you begin by explaining where is Meridiam based out of and what sets them apart from others in establishing this relationship?

Hamilton: We have some fiber in the city and some of our providers are expanding that, but they tend to do it in a way that reaches pockets and actually tends to be higher income and high density places. We want everybody to have access to fiber. And the other thing we looked for is a network that would be open to different users. Right now, it's like we have a set of private roads. And each company builds its own roads to get to your house to deliver what they want to deliver to you.

It's much more efficient, and we think valuable for the city to have an open set of roads. So that internet service providers can all compete. Meridiam has come forward with that kind of project to build over $40 million investment in the city to build a high speed broadband fiber network that would cover virtually the whole city, that will be open structure, meaning there will be a brief period of one provider but it is designed to be open to multiple users - that meaning anyone from Smithville, to Comcast, AT&T if they want to use it, to any internet provider to get you as a customer and sell you their internet service. So it's a much more competitive model.

So they build the infrastructure and then lease its access to anybody who wants to use it.

Meridiam is an international company, they're originally based came out of France, they work all across the world, they have a North American company headquartered in New York that is doing North America investments.

Hren: What about local high-speed fiber company Smithville? I did hear you say earlier that they can jump on this project down the road. Is this something for them earlier on as well?

Hamilton: Well, I hope so. And they certainly are welcome to talk to this company. I mean, in a way this is Meridiam that's come to us and said we want to invest in your community. It's kind of like a business says we want to locate in your town. We like what you're doing and we want to be part of that. The current providers models tend to be we build the network that connects you to our services. And if you switch from one to the other, they got to build a different line to your house. This is a different model. I think it's a more efficient model.

For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here.

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

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Recent Business and Economy Stories