In this week’s installment of Ask The Mayor, Indiana Newsdesk’s Joe Hren visits Bloomington’s Mark Kruzan at City Hall. The mayor takes your questions and gives us an update on Kirkwood Avenue construction, the proposed new county parking garage and what the city is looking for in the Certified Tech Park.
Listen to their full conversation above. Here are some highlights:
Hren: A new downtown parking garage was approved for county employees last month. In your opinion, is this the best place to put the garage?
Kruzan: I think it’s an amenity for their employees, it’s a safety consideration for employees, but more so what we all need to keep in mind is the one time there is a problem in that jail, whether it be the release of some chemical, a fire… if you have to evacuate prisoners and workers from that jail right now, there’s a chain link fence in that lot and they want to have emergency overflow space for evacuation purposes and that parking facility will have space to do that.
Hren: In the Herald-Times today, a report about the downtown certified tech park reveals the city is looking for development proposals for a second time. Is this concerning for you? Why is the city not getting the proposals that fit that area?
Kruzan: What happens is you can get anybody to do something out there if you’re willing to pay the price. The price that was being asked by some in the development community was more than what I was willing to pay and I think most people reasonably looking at it would agree. But the reason the cost is so high is because we’re trying to have that 12 acres not simply be more student apartments or chain restaurants. Those are the highest income producing developments. We have people lined up to do those kind of developments. But we’re trying to do locally owned stores, office space that serves the tech community and more workforce available housing.
Hren: I have an email from Jerrold: “How is the Monroe County Energy Challenge going? What is the City of Bloomington doing in the Energy Challenge to reduce the natural gas and electric utility energy usages of its residents?”
Kruzan: I honestly don’t know how the challenge has gone, but what we’ve done through our sustainability effort in that we have our own challenge within the city, an intra-city challenge going on right now asking employees to come up with ideas by which we can not only reduce consumption but cost. We’ve instituted electric vehicles, flex fuel vehicles and hybrid vehicles. We’ve reduced the consumption of electricity in our buildings, we’re installing LED lights all over town. It becomes part of our budget preparation every year.