Tonight, the employee parking garage proposal from the Monroe County Commission will once again come before the Bloomington Plan Commission. Today, we spoke to Chris Sturbaum, a member of the Bloomington City Council and a member of the Plan Commission, about the proposal. He first explained why the initial county proposal was sent back for revision and what changes have been made in response.
“When the first proposal came out it was taller and it was uglier…we’ve been talking to them about making the front more attractive” said Sturbaum.
Sturbaum says the building’s proposed height is still a concern to the Commission. At 94 feet, it is considerably above the 50 foot standard limit for the area. But the city has approved several recent building proposals with heights more than 50 feet. That includes some immediate neighbors of the proposed garage. Furthermore, Sturbaum says the county’s efforts to keep most of its offices and other facilities in the downtown core, which complements the City’s efforts to densify this area, increase his willingness to approve the county garage proposal. New buildings in the area have also been required to include ground floor commercial space, in order to increase foot traffic and enliven the area generally. Sturbaum describes how the County has responded to this building provision.
Sturbaum said, “What’s peculiar about this building is it is taking the place of what they call “the cage” which is barbwire-topped metal fencing that technically is the overflow if there was some kind of emergency in the jail.”
Sturbaum says this unique county need should be accommodated by the Plan Commission. The county proposal also includes rooftop solar panels to power lighting for the facility. There is also provision for 10 electric vehicle plug in outlets and 20 spaces for bike parking. Sturbaum assumes that if future increases in need for these amenities can be relatively easily accommodated. Another issue is whether or not parking spaces in the county facility will be available to the general public during the working day or, especially, during the evening and on weekends and holidays.
“That was a request I specifically made and said, ‘the market is right across the street, could we work some kind of arrangement where market visitors could park in that garage?’ and what a great set up it would be” said Sturbaum.
Tonight’s Plan Commission Meeting is in the Bloomington Common Council Chambers, at City Hall, in the Showers Building, located at 401 North Morton Street, in downtown Bloomington. It was scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. The general public is welcome to attend.