BLOOMINGTON — Downtown will be busy with summer events and improvement projects, so City Manager Tim Gleason had his staff put together a "public service announcement" outlining what's ahead, including the repaving of 13 blocks of streets.
"We're trying to cram a whole lot of stuff into the downtown summer event season and construction season in 2019," said Gleason after the City Council's committee-of-whole work session Monday night. "So we felt it was very important to communicate all that is going on."
Public Works Director Jim Karch said the 13 blocks include several that are already being repaved.
The repaving of five of those blocks — Front Street from Madison to East streets; Center Street from Washington to Front streets; and Main Street from Washington to Front streets — began April 1 and is expected to be completed by mid-May.
The repaving of Main Street will continue to the north through the 600 block, and Monroe Street will be repaved from East to Madison streets, said Karch.
Before the downtown streets could be repaved, the city spent several years improving the sewers underneath those streets.
"They were some of our oldest sewers, and we had to make sure they were in good enough condition so we didn't resurface those streets and start having sewers fail in the downtown," said Karch.
Also, downtown wayfinding signs are expected to be erected by the end of the summer, said Karch.
"We've put this into high gear," said Gleason. "So do we abandon an event season? No. I am optimistic, even with as much construction that will going on, that we can put together the best event season that downtown has seen."
New Economic Development Director Melissa Hon said there are 120 events planned for downtown between April and August. The events are listed online at downtownbloomington.org/events.
"We're making multiple efforts to make the downtown beautiful," she added. "The first thing is we're continuing a partnership the DBA (Downtown Bloomington Association) had with Marcfirst ... to do a spring cleaning for us, and they will continue to do regular litter pickup through the downtown four days a week."
The city's public works department is power-washing the sidewalks downtown. In partnership with the DBA, 60 new self-watering planters are being added to the downtown, said Hon.
Through the DBA's design committee, artist Seth Davis is painting portraits of Abraham Lincoln and David Davis on an exterior wall of the Frank E. Hoffman Law Office that fronts Monroe Street.
Improvements at three downtown parking decks operated by the city include adding equipment to allow for automated entry and exit, security cameras, lighting upgrades and 24/7 assistance via an intercom button, said city Facilities Manager Russ Waller.
Aside from the asphalt street-repaving projects, "this is picking off the low-hanging fruit of the things that were on (the Downtown Task Force's) list of recommendations — the easy to do, not very expensive parts," Ward 1 Alderman Jamie Mathy, who owns a business downtown, said after the meeting. "I'm just glad to see some things getting knocked off the list and actually getting done."