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Bloomington City Council Votes 5-3 To Demolish, Rebuild Fourth Street Garage

Bloomington's Fourth Street garage

During a hearing Wednesday, the council heard over two hours of public comment from local residents both for and against the proposal. (Sean Hogan, WFIU/WTIU News)

After months of debate, the Bloomington city council has voted to support a proposal to tear down and replace the downtown fourth street garage.

In a 5-3 vote, the council approved an $18.5 million revenue bond to fund the acquisition, demolition and reconstruction of a new garage with up to 550 spaces.

Councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith chose to vote against the bond and says the city should be prioritizing other modes of transportation that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"And those are the modes we should be investing in," Piedmont-Smith says. "Because global climate change is real, and we need to start doing something about it, yesterday."

But the majority of the council, including President Dave Rollo, sided with the concerns of downtown business owners, who say not prioritizing parking could drive out local business.

"By keeping things local, compact urban form, building up rather than out," Rollo says. "That’s why this garage is necessary. It’s the right way to go for climate."

Rollo says two members from the council will serve on the design and review committee for the garage to oversee planning details like density and height.

Bloomington Deputy Mayor Mick Renneisen says with the rebuild option, the new structure should be open before the end of 2020.

In December 2018, the coucil unanimously supported a plan to repair the garage. But the most recent structural analysis report estimates a five-year repair plan for the garage would cost nearly $1.6 million,  nearly $300,000 more than initially projected.

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