Bloomington Forward is the official name of the proposal to invest in three major community projects using a local option sales tax.
We’ve been talking about this for a while. Looking back, we realized we spent more than two years gathering input from residents as Bloomington Forward, our long-term investment plan, took shape.
Using all that community engagement and conversation, the City developed a $159 million investment plan to build a new community health and wellness center, support major renovations at Bloomington Ice Garden and provide new amenities and habitat restoration along the Nine Mile Creek corridor.
I’ve talked in the past about the need for each of these projects. We need a new ice-making system at Bloomington Ice Garden because the current refrigerant used depletes the ozone layer and has been phased out around the world. The Public Health building and Creekside Community Center have served us well for over 60 years. However, both facilities cannot accommodate current program and service demands and are limited in how they can be remodeled or expanded. A larger and modern community health and wellness center will be able to meet the needs of the community’s population for years to come. The Nine Mile Creek corridor provides key access to regionally significant trail networks—survey results confirm that Bloomington residents love their parks and trails.
If our goal is to make Bloomington an enduring and remarkable community where people want to be, Bloomington needs to invest in key infrastructure. As I’ve talked about in the past, a sales tax would give us a way to share the costs with users across the region. It’s estimated that at least 67% of a local sales tax would be paid by non-Bloomington residents. If these three projects were paid for with property tax revenue, the cost would fall on Bloomington property owners.
On Tuesday, November 7, Bloomington voters will have the opportunity to vote on the Bloomington Forward proposal. This is a big decision for this community, and I believe that all big decisions should be well-informed.
The City has created a website to provide you with details and resources about the projects so you can make an informed decision when you cast your vote this fall. Please, visit the website—bloomingtonforward.org—and take some time to read through it. There’s a lot of information, including videos and a frequently asked questions page. There’s also a place where you can submit questions or feedback and again, I’d encourage you to do so.
You’ll be hearing a lot about Bloomington Forward between now and November, and I sincerely hope you’ll make every effort to be as informed as possible on this important question. More information is included in this issue and at bloomingtonforward.org.