BLOOMINGTON — Ten years of revitalization can do a lot for a neighborhood.

Ruth Cobb has been a resident of west Bloomington for 16 years and has watched her neighborhood flourish since West Bloomington Revitalization Project was established there in 2008

"There's such a great mix of people here," said Cobb.

WBRP hosted the first West Bloomington Fest on Saturday with a block party near the building at 724 W. Washington St.

The event featured tours of the main building, information about programs, free food and ice cream, a bike giveaway, live music, a dunk tank and kids’ activities.

"It boils down to empowering residents of west Bloomington to live in a neighborhood that is historic and diverse and a great place to live for everyone," said Tahnee Lathrop, WBRP president.

Lathrop owns Retrofit Culture, which moved from downtown Bloomington to the west side of town in 2016. She and her husband live above the shop.

"We made an active decision to move to west Bloomington. There's so much here that's great," she said.

The event celebrated several accomplishments for the organization, said Lathrop, such as moving to the new location on West Washington Street, opening the Bike Co-op and hitting the 10-year milestone.

In addition to the Bike Co-op, the WBRP building is home to the expanded Tool Library and the Veggie Oasis program. WBRP also offers a home repair program, community gardens, a seed library and book bike.

"I was always intrigued by the love and history in this neighborhood and the love the board puts back into the community," said Katie Latta, west Bloomington resident and WBRP board member.

Latta said she hopes the event helps end "a bad stigma for being on the west side."

"There's such a sense of community here with so many different cultures. In my neighborhood, I know everyone by name and we all look out for each other," she said.

Craig and Jessie Montgomery of Bloomington enjoyed free ice cream with their daughter Austin, 5.

"A lot of people want to associate poverty directly with crime, but I don't look at it that way," said Craig Montgomery. "These people have the same needs as the wealthy but too often they are ignore. This group has a noteworthy cause."

Seeking shade in the grassy yard next to the building, Autumn Stone read books with her family received through the WBRP.

"I grew up over here and just recently moved back. I think it really is a great neighborhood," said Stone.

As for the next 10 years?

"We plan to do additional street beautification with things like murals and we hope to boost the economic development here," said Lathrop.

For more information about WBRP or to volunteer, visit www.westbloomington.org or www.Facebook.com/WestBloomington.

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Contact Julia Evelsizer at (309) 820-3254. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer


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