Organizers of an open streets event got permission September 23rd to move forward with their plans, but not without a struggle. Open Streets Bloomington asked the city’s Board of Public Works to let them shut down half a mile of Seventh Street, from the Banneker Community Center to the B-Line Trail. The event is scheduled for October 5th. One of the organizers, Beth Rosenbarger, described Open Streets as an opportunity to use the street for unconventional activities such as promotion for local businesses and community meetings.
This is the second annual Open Streets event in Bloomington. Some residents told the Board they objected to the street closure. John Bavender lives on West Seventh. He also owns other houses on the street. He objects that the event would prohibit him from doing his routine property maintenance.
Only two of the three members of the Board were present. Both of those members, James McNamara and Charlotte Zietlow, said they should have been consulted earlier in the process. McNamara said he felt pressured to approve the street closure because the event is so soon. He ultimately did not want to deny the event to those who took time to put it together on such short notice.
Throughout the U.S. and Canada there have been more than 100 Open Streets events since 2010. A local architect, Marc Cornett, told the Board that these kinds of projects typically have opponents at first.
The Board later voted in favor of the event with the caveat that organizers must work with city staff to determine the hours for the closure. McNamara said he won’t support Open Streets in the future.
Further coverage of the decision for the Open Streets event can be found here.