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Bloomington council OKs Constitution Trail extensions in Hershey Grove subdivision

The Bloomington City Council meets Monday, March 27, 2023 in the downtown Government Center.
Michele Steinbacher
The Bloomington City Council meets Monday, March 27, 2023 in the downtown Government Center.

Bloomington will use a $500,000 state grant to build out sections of Constitution Trail along the north side of Hamilton Road, and the west side of Hershey Road.

The Bloomington City Council voted Monday to use the grant, and to allow the Hershey Grove subdivision developer to create a mid-block crossing as part of the project.

The Bloomington Planning Commission had rejected the plan for the crossing earlier this spring, noting at the time it wouldn’t connect to any trails.

But city administrators said Monday the commissioners now are OK with the plan, with the grant addition.

"It's an opportunity to extend our trailways, and I can see the benefit to the whole community," by doing this, rather than reaching into the city's budget to cover that cost, said Ward 4's Julie Emig.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the council OK’d spending about $900,000 to purchase Bloomington Fire Department safety equipment, and held public hearings on the proposed $290 million FY2024 budget, and the city’s plan for spending Community Development Block grants.

Hershey Grove subdivision trail expansion

The council had a lengthy discussion on whether the developer, Hershey Grove LLC, should be allowed to meet its 2011 annexation agreement obligations by covering the cost of the mid-block crossing on Hershey Road. The neighborhood sits just south of Ireland Grove Road.

In the 5-2 vote, Ward 7’s Mollie Ward and Ward 9’s Tom Crumpler voted against the plan — with both expressing reservations about using state public funds to benefit a private developer.

Ward 6's De Urban said she'd vote to move forward with the Hershey Grove / Constitution Trail project, because the people in that neighborhood deserved forward momentum, after such a long wait.

"There's a history of 20 years here where this is still not done. And we need to start getting things accomplished and finished," she said.

Ward 8’s Jeff Crabill was absent. Donna Boelen, Ward 2, didn’t vote Monday, as she was mayor pro tem in Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe’s absence.

The crossing is expected to be finished by June. But construction on the extended trail won’t start until next year

BFD to get new equipment

The council OK’d spending about $900,000 for the Bloomington Fire Department to replace its aging self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units.

The money will cover 85 of the 3M Scott SCBAs, and related items.

The SCBAs are one of the most critical pieces of personal protective equipment used by firefighters in hazardous conditions, and the BFD’s current units are outdated, according to board materials.

In other business, the council approved

  • The purchase of  $230,000 worth of policing technology for the Bloomington Police Department, to be covered by a violence reduction and prevention grant.
  • Spending about $125,000 on computer equipment, for the city’s tech department.
  • A $70,000-contract with JRLX to replace aging lighting at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Zoning changes for properties at 704 McGregor St.; and 1626 W. Locust St.
  • Rezoning vacant land in the 2000 block of Fox Creek Road, near West Oakland Avenue, as R-2 mixed residential, to allow for the development of duplexes.

Michele Steinbacher was a WGLT correspondent, joining the staff in 2020. She left the station in 2024.