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Ask The Mayor: Bloomington’s Hamilton On Switchyard Park Gentrification

Construction has begun on Bloomington’s Trades District infrastructure. (Joe Hren WFIU/WTIU News)

Switchyard Park gentrification concerns, Trades District infrastructure construction begins, parking commission recommendations, Mental Health 101 classes and could Kirkwood’s Bicentennial Bash return in another form?

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: Friday’s Switchyard Park groundbreaking ceremony indicated this park will be a destination for all of southern Indiana, what will make this park so special?

Hamilton: First the look of the park will be beautiful. It has striking geography and layout and design. It has amenities that will attract people like a skate park and a splash park. It’s going to have a major amphitheater so outdoor stage and lawn plus a beautiful pavilion venue that’s going to have a mix of indoor, outdoor depending on the weather.

So from our perspective, linking in the B-Line, it’s such a strong urban park that connects on that B-Line to everything else downtown.

Hren: The next day in the H-T, a report indicated that a Bloomington Solidarity Network is concerned that the park represents an ongoing effort to redevelop and gentrify central Bloomington. But you’ve said that the city is preserving and creating affordable options and not reducing the availability of this park to people from all walks of life. Where’s the disconnect here?

Hamilton: I totally agree that as Bloomington develops, we have to be very intentional about making sure this community works for people from all walks of life. But we are a very expensive housing market, we need to work on affordable housing, we’re creating hundreds of units of affordable housing – this park of course, is free and open to everyone. But we need to look at who’s going to live around this park not just today, but 20 years from now and 50 years from now.

We have to be very intentional about making sure this community works for people from all walks of life.

I do think this is a great public investment to help everybody in Bloomington today and in the future have a better quality of life.

Hren: Any road construction updates, particularly on Country Club Road and I-69 updates?

Hamilton: They are still on schedule for their August substantial completion, they may have some landscaping and clean-up to do. So that’s good news. They are also on target to get 2nd Street open within the next few weeks so that bridge is fully functional. We kicked more money to get the bridge over Country Club done, I’m told that construction is going well.

We still have to deal with a sewer issue at Grimes and we have to replace an intersection at Rockport and Country Club. We have great text notifications with regular weekly reports with what’s going on with traffic.

Hren: I see bulldozers on 10th Street through the Trades District, what’s going on?

Hamilton: Construction of Dimension Mill is underway and is expected to be open by Halloween. At the same time the infrastructure around the roads, sidewalks, patios, plazas are all being constructed. And just west of Rogers is new affordable housing going in with about 30 units.

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