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Bloomington OKs Road Work Through TIF; Delays New Liquor License

Traffic light on Front Street
Eric Stock
Bloomington plans to remove two traffic signals and bump out curbs on Front Street to make it more pedestrian friendly.

Bloomington aldermen have put a request for a new type of liquor license on ice over concerns the proposal was too broad.

The City Council on Monday delayed a vote on a new license classification that would have enabled Green Top Grocery customers to drink packaged beer and wine on site.

Alderman David Sage said he was concerned about the wording which allowed for consumption “on or off the premises.” He said such a classification could have unintended consequences.

“I’m always a little concerned whenever we start to amend things on the fly up here because words can mean different things to different people,” Sage said. “In a situation like this, there’s no way we couldn’t delay it two weeks.”

Assistant city attorney George Boyle told the council Green Top sought the license so that its customers could drink in its kitchen where there are cooking demonstrations, in its deli and on an outside patio.

Alderman Jamie Mathy said he’s worried such an ordinance might encourage gas station owners who offer video gambling to seek such a license.

“The way this was worded there’s nothing to stop one of those places from coming back and applying for one of these packaged sale and consumption on premise licenses,” Mathy said.

There seemed to be some consensus to have city staff rework the proposal to specify such a license would be available only to establishments which sell food as their primary business.

Front Street Project

The City Council approved designating a downtown road project as part of a tax increment financing district in hopes development in that area would help offset the cost.

The city is removing two traffic signals and making several other pedestrian-friendly changes on Front Street between Center and Madison streets after the city determined the traffic signal infrastructure would be too costly to repair.

Alderman Karen Schmidt asked City Engineer Kevin Kothe how the $250,000 project would impact other projects on the Public Works Department’s priority list, such as sidewalk repairs.

“We’re doing this based on the idea that we hope to get that money back through TIF,” Schmidt said. “I know we all hope to get that money back through TIF, but right now it’s being taken away from other work in the community.”

Kothe noted that the city's primary goal is to safisfy Americans with Disabilities Act requirements with each sidewalk access each time it repaves a street. 

“It certainly does take away potentially from other work that we could be doing with our sidewalk money, but as you all know there is a great need in the community not only for the resurfacing work but also the sidewalk work as well,” Kothe said.

TIFs are intended to incentivize development in a particular area by turning property tax revenue back into development. This TIF, which covers three downtown blocks, hasn’t seen any new development since it was created two years ago.

Route 66

Aldermen also approved installing an interactive Route 66 kiosk at the corner of Jefferson and Main streets outside the McLean County Museum of History.

The kiosk provided by the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau features local history involving the historic highway.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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