The Bloomington City Council narrowly passed a change to the liquor code Monday to prevent alcohol sales close to preschools and day cares.
The proposal from Alderman Joni Painter will ban booze sales within 100 feet of a preschool or day care. Painter requested the change to prevent a Circle K with video gaming machines from being built near a day care center on Hershey Road.
Alderman Jamie Mathy opposed the measure. Mathy said it could worsen Bloomington's food desert problem.
"I'm concerned about whether or not if we take this motion right now, we are prohibiting somebody from coming in that might want to put a grocery store on South Main Street or somewhere even remotely close to the downtown that would better serve the west side," he said.
Painter represents Ward 5, including areas north of Empire Street surrounding Veterans Parkway. Painter said she does not want kids exposed to alcohol or video gambling. The change passed 5-to-4 with Aldermen Amelia Buragas, Scott Black, Diana Hauman, and Mathy voting against it.
Existing restaurants, taverns, and package license holders will be grandfathered in. The liquor code had previously banned alcohol sales near churches, veterans' homes and schools.
Painter said she still hopes Circle K will bring its business to a different location in Bloomington.
In other business, the council unanimously passed street resurfacing projects and the purchase of new firefighting uniforms.
Future of Parks and Recreation
Parks planning consultant GreenPlay representative Dylan Packebush said Bloomington residents want dog parks, outdoor fitness equipment and a skate park, among other enhancements to the city's green spaces.
GreenPlay presented its draft of the city's new parks master plan to the council Monday during a special meeting.
Black said funding for parks is just as important to him as public safety.
"We've talked about some of the numbers over the years of keeping kids off the street, putting them in programs or facilities that keep them from being incarcerated, or causing trouble," Black said. "Parks and recreation is public safety."
Packebush said Bloomington's parks are in relatively good shape. Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Director Jay Tetzloff said every park needs something more.
"We like the idea of making each park a little bit more individual," Tetzloff said. "So adding human foosball to a park would be a great opportunity for a neighborhood or one part of town."
Ideas for changes to aging O'Neil Park and a possible indoor recreation center will be presented to the council in July or August. Some aldermen say the Town of Normal and McLean County should share the responsibility of creating those spaces.
Tetzloff said this summer will be the last for the 40-year-old O'Neil Pool without major renovations. He said the kiddie pool will be closed for a second year.
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