Bloomington residents debated the merits of the proposed parking garage downtown at a city Plan Commission meeting on Monday. The Monroe County government wants to build the facility at the south-east corner of Morton and Eighth Streets. County employees would park there. This is the third time in three months the proposal has come before the Bloomington Plan Commission. The original proposal was for a nine story, ninety-four-foot tall facility. The height was well over the 50 foot height allowed by City Code. Since then, the County has downsized the proposed building to seventy feet tall. Bloomington Planning and Transportation Department Director Tom Micuda says changes have been made to make the building more compatible with its neighbors. He compares the garage height to other downtown buildings and says that it is now in relation to all of the others in terms of the facade.
Micuda pointed out that many of the features of the proposal are still in violation of city code. Mayor Mark Kruzan then spoke in favor of the proposal. Despite the size of the building, Kruzan said the garage will help keep County government facilities downtown. Kruzan said that Monroe County Government has made a choice loyal to staying downtown and that the parking garage would benefit this initiative in maintaining a downtown presence.
The County Commissioners are looking into opening the facility to public parking in the evening, on the weekends, and during holidays. During the public comment period, there was both support and opposition to the proposal. Generally, supporters lauded the benefits of keeping county employees and their vehicles downtown. Opponents criticized the garage as expensive and inappropriate for downtown. They said the current shuttle service, which takes County employees to work from the convention center parking lot, is a cheaper option. Ultimately, the Commission voted 7 to 1 to approve the project. Commission member Jane St. John cast the only no vote. The recommendation will now go to Bloomington City Council for a final decision.