It’s been six years since the City started work on the City Council’s strategic plan, One Bloomington, which guided the City’s work from 2017 to 2021. One Bloomington was written with the goal of strengthening a community that includes all residents, working together to accomplish the same goals. The plan had seven defined priorities: equity and inclusion, environmental sustainability, community amenities, focused renewal, high-quality service delivery, community image and engagement and transparency. Take a look at a brief summary of the projects the City completed from 2017 to 2021 that moved each priority forward. For more information, visit blm.mn/onebloomington.
Construction on a new Fire Station 4 is now underway, continuing the work being done to make the City’s fire stations suitable for modern equipment and fire service. From 2019 – 2020, a new Station 3 was built at 2301 86th Street East. Construction on many improvements at the Bloomington Ice Garden wrapped up during the One Bloomington plan. This included main entryway upgrades, updated locker rooms, and seating that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Parks and Recreation staff’s work crafting the Park System Master Plan paid off in 2021 when the City Council adopted the new plan, establishing a clear, 20-year vision for the Bloomington park, trail, recreation and open space systems.
Bloomington’s environmental sustainability efforts have grown over the last six years. The City Council created the Sustainability Commission in 2017. New organic recycling drop-off sites were installed and opened in 2018. Bloomington was recognized as a GreenStep City for the first time in 2018 and achieved GreenSteps four and five in 2020 and 2021. Bloomington also received SolSmart Gold designation in 2019. This recognizes the City’s overall sustainability practices and the ease of getting approval to install solar panels. In 2019, the City hired a full-time sustainability coordinator. A time-of-sale energy disclosure ordinance and large business benchmarking ordinance launched in 2021, promoting energy conservation. More recently, the City kicked off curbside organics recycling service.
High-quality service delivery
Delivering high-quality service has always been a priority for the City. From maintaining high-quality tap water to concerts in the park, the number of ways City services enhance the quality of life in Bloomington are many. Over the years, City staff have received positive feedback for their service to the community. In the 2021 National Community Survey™, 88% of respondents rated the overall customer service provided by City employees as excellent or good, the highest rating ever in this category. Many specific work teams were recognized for their work from 2017 – 2020. The City received the Best in Glass title for the taste of Bloomington’s tap water for the second time in three years in 2017. Finance received the GFOA award for its annual report to the community from 2017 – 2021. Communications staff were honored from 2017 – 2021 with various awards from state and national contests recognizing the City’s work in video, print, on the web and on social media. The City received three triple-A credit ratings every year 2017 – 2021. Parks and Recreation staff were awarded for their work on Project P.L.A.Y., a grant-funded project that provided recreational activities and programs during the height of the pandemic, in 2020.
In the last six years, there have been many new ways to enjoy what Bloomington has to offer. The Midweek Music Market series kicked off, bringing fresh produce, food trucks and live music to summer Wednesday evenings. Many creative placemaking projects were completed in the last six years as well, including the WE Mural, the Wright’s Lake Park Mural, many utility box art wraps, creative placemaking happy hours, the South Loop songbird sculpture and more.
The National Community Survey™ showed excellent community livability scores from 2017 to 2021. Last year, nine in ten residents rated the overall quality of life in Bloomington as excellent or good. Ninety-one percent of respondents are pleased with the city as a place to live. About two-thirds of respondents gave positive scores to the sense of community in Bloomington.
Renewing existing neighorhoods and commercial centers has been a priority for the City for years. Since the One Bloomington plan began, the City has made progress toward this goal. In 2019, the City Council approved the opportunity housing ordinance, which promotes the development of new affordable housing. It also preserves existing naturally occurring affordable housing. The City also launched a $15 million Affordable Housing Trust Fund dedicated to preserving and creating affordable housing.
The Gateway Development District was created in 2019, beginning a transformational opportunity in an area of the city where development and redevelopment has lagged for decades. The district is east of I-35W. Encouraging the redevelopment of aging neighborhood commercial centers within the district, such as the Lyndale Avenue corridor, increases the likelihood of more business owners and residents naming Bloomington as their community of choice. More importantly, the district’s focus is to create a quality place for current residents and businesses by building on past successes, present opportunities and
After the pandemic’s effects on local businesses, the City created the Small Business Emergency Assistance Loan Program. This program assisted Bloomington businesses that were negatively impacted by COVID-19 in 2020. More than 150 loans were distributed.
Engagement and transparency
The City Council added engagement and transparency as a priority in 2019. Since then, many new ways to get involved have rolled out. The new Community Outreach and Engagement Division had its first full year of operation in 2019. After the pandemic took a toll on the City’s lodging and admissions tax revenues, the Council convened a Community Budget Advisory Committee to ensure community voices were at the forefront of budget decisions. The Council moved its start time to earlier in the evening so more residents could participate in 2020. City Council and commission meetings are now available via streaming. Also new in 2020, residents could call in for public comment at Council meetings. A weekly Council Minute video series debuted in 2020. Bloomington Police started a new video series, Q&A with BPD, in 2020 to answer resident questions. BPD also debuted a new, more robust data dashboard on its website in 2021. The City launched a new digital engagement site, Let’s Talk Bloomington, to gather input and feedback on projects online in 2020.
Inclusion and equity
Equity and Inclusion is a key component of the City’s strategic plan. The City hired its first-ever racial equity coordinator in 2019. In 2020, the City Council adopted a racial equity business plan, which charts the path for an expansion of the City’s racial equity work in the years to come. One point from the plan was the creation of racial equity action teams (REATs) in each of the divisions of the City. REATs are staff-led teams that provide accountability and capacity-building to ensure staff has a shared understanding of why we lead with race, how we advance the work and how we measure success. The City Council declared racism a public health crisis in 2020.
In 2021, the City created a Racial Equity Strategic Planning Committee (RESPC) to identify the most impactful policies and practices that the City, in collaboration with partners, could work on to begin to reduce racial disparities in key areas, including economic stability, education, health and health care, neighborhood and built environment and more. The RESPC proposed investing in public health, supporting small businesses by developing a business resource center, developing new homeownership initiatives, expanding public safety mental health services, and more collaboration with the school district. The City Council unanimously approved the proposal. The City hired an inclusion and equity specialist in 2022 to help implement the work of the racial equity strategic plan.
Bloomington. Tomorrow. Together.
Charting the City’s future
The City’s One Bloomington priorities have been embedded in the organization’s work as it moves forward with its new community-based strategic plan Bloomington. Tomorrow. Together. Over the past year, City Council, staff and residents worked together in core planning, action and measurement teams to shape the future of Bloomington. The process included understanding who and what Bloomington is; forming a unifying mission statement and strategic objectives; developing actions for implementation; and identifying measurements for success. The work resulted in a set of core values, mission, strategic objectives and strategies that will guide the organization over the next five years. The mission is “To cultivate an enduring and remarkable community where people want to be.” It describes Bloomington as unique, special and distinct—a noteworthy community with a rich history that stands on its own merits and attracts people because of these attributes. Learn more at blm.mn/btt.