Residents are encouraged to visit BloomingtonForward.org to learn more about the plan and the choice for how to pay for it.
The City of Bloomington has officially launched a new website – BloomingtonForward.org – designed to inform residents about a proposed $159 million investment in community amenities that bring residents together and enhance their quality of life.
The website contains a broad range of details about a long-term City plan, called Bloomington Forward, to invest in three major capital projects that support health, wellness, athletics and recreation in the community:
Building a new Community Health and Wellness Center to replace the outdated Bloomington Public Health and Creekside Community Center buildings.
Renovating the 50-year-old Bloomington Ice Garden, including new refrigeration and mechanical systems, improved accessibility, new roof and additional renovations to improve user experience.
Enhancing and protecting Moir/Central Parks and Nine Mile Creek Corridor with restored riverbanks, habitat protections, improved trails and new park amenities to support outdoor recreation.
“When we invest in public health and wellness, recreation and natural resources, we are investing in Bloomington’s quality of life and the local economy,” said Mayor Tim Busse.
The Bloomington Public Health and Creekside Community Center buildings have served the community well for more than 60 years. However, neither building can accommodate current program and service demands and are limited in how they could be remodeled or expanded. A larger and modern community health and wellness center would help meet the needs of the region’s population for years to come.
Bloomington Ice Garden opened in 1970, featuring one sheet of ice. Today, ice and refrigeration systems are outdated and need to be replaced. In addition, a wide range of critical infrastructure work is needed, including major roof repairs and transforming Rink 3 from Olympic to standard NHL size to expand usage, seating and locker rooms.
To ensure Moir Park/Central Park and Nine Mile Creek corridor continue to connect residents to nature and outdoor activities, the City is seeking to restore eroded riverbanks, enhance and protect natural habitat, add new amenities to the park and expand trails for hiking and mountain biking.
In May 2023, Bloomington received legislative authorization to present voters with a referendum to fund $155 million of the investments in the Bloomington Forward plan via a half-percent local sales tax. Also in May, the State of Minnesota authorized $4 million to support predesign work on the Bloomington Ice Garden and Community Health and Wellness Center projects.
Sixty percent of the half-percent sales tax would be paid by nonresidents, according to research by the University of Minnesota using the most recent sales tax data from 2020.If the projects were funded by a sales tax, the average cost of the half-percent sales tax would be approximately $85 per city household each year, or $7 per month. If the projects were funded through property taxes, the tax increase for a median-value home would be about $230 per year.
On November 7, 2023, the City will ask voters to consider a half-percent local option sales tax to finance $155 million in bonds for the projects over a 20-year-period. Because this is an important community decision, the Bloomington Forward website was created to provide Bloomington residents details and resources about the project to make an informed vote on or before November 7, Busse said.
“We want to make sure our residents have all the information they need to make an informed vote,” Busse said. “I encourage everyone to make their voice heard at the ballot box.”