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City Council Extends Kirkwood Avenue Street Dining Through October

A photo taken outside Nick's English Hut on Kirkwood Avenue

Restaurants like Nick's English Hut have taken advantage of the closure to make room for outside seating. (Alex Paul, WFIU/WTIU News)

The closure of Kirkwood Avenue to East-West vehicle traffic between Indiana Avenue and Walnut Street will continue through the end of October.

City council approved the program’s extension Wednesday night to offer more outdoor dining for restaurants and foot traffic for shops.

The City of Bloomington’s Special Projects Manager Kaisa Goodman said the decision was made after receiving positive feedback from the impacted businesses.

"This program extension also provides greater predictability for both downtown businesses and patrons of those businesses as there will be greater clarity about these programs’ continuation during the 2021 season," said Goodman.

Both Downtown Bloomington, Inc. and the Kirkwood Community Association have been in communication with the city on the future of the program and have conducted several surveys with businesses. 

Councilmember Sue Sgambelluri is the council’s appointee to Downtown Bloomington, Inc. She said conversations on new ways to improve the closure moving forward are constant.

"They know it’s a change. They know it’s a departure from what we’ve done in the past from the city," said Sgambelluri. "They’re very conscious of accessibility issues as well and I’ve heard very robust discussions on that."

The city said it will explore more opportunities for accessibility by talking with businesses about building ramps and adding more nearby ADA parking spots.

READ MORE: How Does The Kirkwood Ave. Closure Affect Access For Those With Disabilities?

The city will also continue its parklet program that designates free 15-minute pickup and drop-off spots for customers ordering carry out from restaurants.

"The goal is to keep the program in place for those who benefit from it, while minimizing the disruption to metered parking," said Goodman.

Since the program was instituted last year, modifications have been made to close the same three blocks – Indiana Avenue to Dunn Street; Dunn Street to Grant, and Washington Street to Walnut Street – 24/7 instead of only on weekends.

Goodman said that change was made so Public Works did not have to send employees out to block the street every week, creating more labor instensive hours. 

"I think I predicted that when this first got passed in the early part of last year that it was already too short because this would be a popular thing. It’s proven to be that way and I’m glad for it," said councilmember Steve Volan.

The closure is now approved until Oct. 31. 

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