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BLOOMINGTON - The patched and potholed Towanda Avenue will get a complete overhaul starting this summer.

On Monday the Bloomington City Council approved the nearly $1.2 million bid by Stark Excavating to rebuild Towanda Avenue from Rowe to Orleans drives. The bid is below the city's estimate of just under $1.4 million.

The road will remain four lanes with new curb and guttering. There will be a complete reconstruction of the pavement, storm sewers and water main.

Also a 5-foot sidewalk will be added from Ewing Park to Jersey Avenue.

In unrelated discussion, Police Chief Roger Aikin updated the council on its request to see a plan to increase the city's police force by a minimum of 21 officers, to 150.

Aikin said he still needs information from Mayor Steve Stockton, who is out of town this week, on preferences for staffing patrols.

The cost of adding one officer is about $81,000 to pay for training and equipment as well as salary and benefits, Aikin told the council. The cost does not include buying additional squad cars to accommodate the larger force.

"Roughly $100,000 is a good estimate," Aikin said.

The city's budget will need about $2.1 million to cover the cost to add 21 positions. Aikin added there are also raises and other requirements in the contract between the city and the police union that need to be covered.

Alderman Karen Schmidt asked about the feasibility of adding staff to the police department with the space available at the current police station.

The city is looking at a $3 million addition to the 10-year old police station.

"At present the building is full," Aikin said. "So even if we could add 21 offers we don't have to room for them at this point."

The review of the city's police department's size, presently at 129 officers, stems from taking about $256,000 from the city budget that would have been used to hire officers to cover part of the projected $1.6 million deficit for the U.S. Cellular Coliseum.

Because of hiring methods, the police department would not have been able to spend that money to hire the three new officers this year as originally planned when the budget was drafted last year.


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