Three months ago, aldermen told the Bloomington Public Library's board of trustees to plan for expansion at its current location just east of downtown.
On Tuesday, trustees were asked to think again.
Members of the Downtown Bloomington Task Force attended Tuesday's library board meeting to discuss a proposed "catalyst" project for downtown. First revealed Sept. 5, the project would knock down the Market Street garage and build a new library and transfer center for Connect Transit in its place.
Some members of the task force believe the potential partnership between Connect Transit and the library could help downtown by increasing daily foot traffic in its core, and some library board members agreed.
Library Director Jeanne Hamilton said the collaboration could be positive for the city.
“The library brings about 1,000 visitors daily and Connect Transit brings 1,300 visitors daily, so partnering those two organizations could be a really great investment in our downtown area,” said Hamilton.
Task force members also said a new Connect Transit transfer center would aid numerous bus riders in the downtown area, as eight routes would run through it However, these effects may not be the same without the downtown location.
Task force chair Amelia Buragas, also Ward 4's alderman, said the current library location would not bring in the same economic growth as the middle of downtown. Other aldermen are cool to the idea.
“While this site can be an excellent place for development, if we’re looking at fully developing the downtown area, the advice we’re getting and what we’re seeing in the plans is we have to start in the core and move outward,” said Buragas.
The downtown task force meets again next Tuesday, with plans to issue its final recommendations to the Bloomington City Council in about two months. No final decisions have been made.
As a matter of disclosure, GLT Program Director Mike McCurdy is chair of the Connect Transit board.
WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.