The council voted for a new resolution which supports implementing a 5-year minimum plan to repair the Fourth Street garage. (Sean Hogan, WTIU/WFIU News)
After months of debate, the Bloomington City council is not supporting a plan to replace the 4th street parking garage. Instead the council wants to make repairs to the existing structure.
The council voted 9-0 last night to approve a new resolution that requests the city follow a five year plan to repair the garage.
Council member Isabel Piedmont-Smith says the council is not ready to fully support funding a newly constructed garage, which has drawn criticism from an environmental perspective.
"I urge everybody to take seriously the dire warnings of thousands of scientists who tell us we need to stop the greenhouse gas emissions we need to cut back," says Piedmont-Smith.
The proposed new 7-story garage would support an incremental capacity of up to 200 parking spots and would allow for convertible use space for retail or apartments.
Since October, the council has postponed making a decision on the controversial project to further explore cost options for repairing the structure instead.
According to structural engineers, the cheapest repair plan would last about five years and cost $1.8 million. The most expensive would take 15 years and cost around $4.3 million.
Alex Crowley is the city’s Economic Development Director. He says repairing the garage will only deplete the parking facilities fund and nearby surface parking will no longer be available in the coming years to accommodate displaced parkers.
For months, residents have weighed in with split opinions on the project. Some say downtown parking is in high demand and should be made more accessible. Others, like resident Kate Rosenbarger feel expanding parking capacities will only increase dependency on cars.
"Spending another $18.5 million on parking isn’t what I call prioritizing non-automated modes of transportation," says Rosenbarger.
Seven members of the council voted against the original bond proposal. Both Councilmember Jim Sims and Susan Sandberg abstained.