Bloomington City Manager Tim Gleason said he plans to close offices at city hall and the McLean County Government Center to the public from Wednesday through May 1 as part of an executive order he plans to issue Tuesday in response to the coronavirus.
Gleason outlined the city’s response to a potential COVID-19 outbreak during a Committee of the Whole meeting Monday.
He said the city wants to direct the public toward online communication and bill paying as much as possible, but said the city plans to use box offices at Grossinger Motors Arena for residents who wish to pay water bills in person.
“We know that there’s those needs for some individuals to pay in person or to have that direct contact, but also trying to maintain the separation,” Gleason said.
City Hall & City offices at the Government Ctr will be closed to the public 3/18-5/1. We'll have staff at the Arena Box Office for transactions that must be done in-person (cash bill payments, etc.). Remember that several services are available on the web for your convenience.
— City of Bloomington (@cityblm) March 17, 2020
Gleason, who established his emergency response credentials as city manager in Washington, Ill., when a tornado destroyed much of the city in 2013, provided assurances that the city is prepared.
“We’ve been prepping for this for the last handful of weeks,” Gleason said. “I’m surrounded by staff that are very much ready for something like this, so that has made it a lot easier on me.
“We will get to the other side as a nation, more so as a community.”
Gleason told the council two city employees have agreed to self-quarantine for 14 days after they returned from Europe, while one city employee had direct contact with a COVID-19 patient and another city worker may have had indirect contact through a family member.
No COVID-19 cases have been reported in McLean County, while the statewide total has surpassed 100.
Bloomington Police Chief Dan Donath said the department won’t make arrests for minor offenses but will refer those cases to the McLean County state’s attorney’s office for possible charges to limit contact with the public.
He added police will try to respond to service calls by phone when possible, such as minor criminal damage, and will ask the public to submit photographic evidence electronically.
“We’ll be doing that as a way to minimize contact, because we need to preserve our officers and their ability to show up for work,” Donath said. “Any contact adds to the possibility they could become infected.”
Some police departments, including Normal, offer online portals for the public to file police reports.
Bloomington Fire Chief Brian Mohr told the council the McLean County Emergency Management Agency has activated Level 2 of its pandemic response plan, following the confirmation of several COVID-19 cases in Central Illinois.
Mohr said at that time, emergency dispatchers in Bloomington and McLean County would ask additional questions to certain patients with experiencing flu symptoms or difficulty breathing to see if they may have been exposed to the coronavirus. He said medical responders have additional protections to wear during transport in those cases.
He said emergency responders also try to limit exposure to the coronavirus by putting a mask on patients showing signs or symptoms of fever.
Bloomington Public Works Director Kevin Kothe outlined the city’s road resurfacing plans for the upcoming year.
For the 2021 budget year starting in May, the city plans to spend nearly $8 million on road work. That includes $5 million for general resurfacing, $1.1 million for sidewalk and curb ramp replacement, $980,000 for Lutz Road reconstruction, $800,000 for pavement preservation, $200,000 for emergency alley and sidewalk repairs, and $100,000 for its sidewalk vertical displacement repair program.
Kothe said the city’s expense on pavement is more than double the amount the city spent this budget year. He noted its cost per-square mile is substantially lower for preservation than for resurfacing.
“Pavement preservation… can do a lot to help us manage our streets more effectively and make taxpayer dollars go much further,” Kothe told the city council.
The city used a 10-point rating scale to determine which roads to select for resurfacing. Kothe plans to present a list of streets selected for resurfacing for the city council to consider at its meeting March 23.
The city is seeking public feedback on the proposed projects. They are scheduled to be listed on the city’s website on Tuesday.
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