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BLOOMINGTON -- Cleaning up trash, staging where for-hire buses pick up passengers and monitoring liquor license holders more closely are among the suggestions from the downtown liquor task force that will be going to the City Council next month.

The task force, which was created by the council to review how to improve the downtown bar district, has nearly completed its work after three months. A final meeting to review proposed ideas was Wednesday at the Bloomington Police Department.

One challenge to keeping downtown clean is the constant flow of traffic for businesses open during the day, nighttime businesses and downtown residents who have parties after the bars close. One suggestion was to penalize business owners who have not cleaned up messes on the sidewalks two hours after their business opens.

"You need to realize that there are people who are trying to keep it clean and picked up," said Jan Lancaster, who owns The Bistro bar and co-owns Lancaster's restaurant.

Bar owners do their best to keep people from taking drinks out on the streets, she said. The majority of empty alcohol bottles and trash left behind are from people who are drinking in their vehicles and at parties held after bars close, said Tricia Stiller, Downtown Bloomington Association director.

A proposal to stage the for-hire vehicles on the blocks of 100 West Washington Street, 500 North Main Street and 100 West Mulberry Street was refined to cover only the large vehicles that block traffic while loading and unloading passengers. Taxis that are sedans and minivans still would be allowed to pick up and drop off in front of businesses.

Also, Liquor Commissioner Marabeth Clapp presented several ideas from the group that studied liquor license issues. That group recommended monitoring how a bar performs six months and a year after it is granted a license.

"What you find is someone brings a proposal to the commission that is wonderful and six months later the establishment becomes something that was not promised," Clapp said.

Limiting occupancy in new businesses beyond what the fire department mandates also may be considered.

A committee of downtown liquor license holders also may be created to work directly with the six-member liquor commission.

Ward 6 Alderman Karen Schmidt, who also is the task force chairwoman, said she would be compiling the suggestions that will be presented to the City Council at a work session June 13.


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