Back in November, we supported the City Council sitting down and talking to the Downtown Task Force about its many ideas to improve the city's core.
While a lot of the ideas, like making making downtown more inviting via beautification efforts, have met with support, that hasn't been the case with the most grandiose suggestion — dismantling the soon-to-be obsolete Market Street garage.
As a meeting last week clearly showed, there is not a lot of support among city aldermen for tearing the garage down and relocating the Bloomington Public Library to that space on Market Street. Another key part of the proposed plan is using the site for a new downtown transfer center for Connect Transit buses; the transit board also is looking at two other downtown locations.
A majority of alderman simply don't like the idea and think the library should expand where it stands at 205 E. Olive St. That plan has been in place for well over a year and the library board has spent good money, $80,000, to finance conceptual site plans.
The city also spent $500,000 to purchase the old Sugar Creek Packing Plant south of the library. Its demolition and that of an adjacent city-owned building is making room for the library expansion.
Three aldermen, David Sage, Joni Painter and Karen Schmidt, didn't attend last week’s meeting and told The Pantagraph they didn't see much point in the session because the council consensus is that the library should stay where it is.
Everyone wants to see downtown improve and thrive. That is why the task force was formed. And, its members have come up with some good ideas, like finding a gathering place for concerts and other public events. The idea is to work with McLean County government to improve and enhance the plaza in front of the Law and Justice Center.
We also like the suggestion that the city parks department take a more active role in beautifying and maintaining downtown streets and sidewalks.
Clearly, neither of those ideas is in the same league as the library/garage proposal, which we previously said had merit, but required much more discussion.
There also may be a sense of "Let's do something" in the wake of recent news that State Farm's iconic Downtown Building will soon be vacant, adding to the list of large, unoccupied buildings in the city's core (including The Pantagraph building after staff soon moves to the downtown square).
But that is not a good reason to jump into a project that has so little support.
Downtown Bloomington is not uptown Normal, but it can be — and is in many ways — a place that people want to visit, spend time and enjoy themselves.
As we said earlier, we supported the idea of a meeting to hash this out beyond the meetings the task force held. While it wasn't what the Downtown Task Force envisioned, or hoped, it did result in confirming what has become obvious: The library is not moving to downtown.
It's time to move on.