My Updated Thoughts on a new Community Center
The agenda of the September 23 Bloomington City Council meeting included a proposed contract award to an architectural firm for pre-design architectural services on a new community center in the amount of $768,268. After careful consideration, I voted against the contract and withdrew my support for Valley View Park as the site of a new community center.
I’ve spoken with countless area residents and people who use Valley View Park on a regular basis. Their arguments against the project are legitimate and sincere and I don’t believe a late-starting community engagement effort will change their point of view. There is without question a massive amount of misinformation and fear mongering about the project being spread by some folks, but I have talked to a great many residents who are well informed and understand the issue and their significant concerns helped influence my decision.
In addition, a big project like the proposed community center – with amenities for everyone, opportunities for great community programming, and the goal of bringing people together – should have strong momentum moving forward lifted up by community enthusiasm, anticipation, and energy. I simply don’t feel that type of energy behind this project and that’s very concerning to me.
Finally, in my years on the Council we’ve taken on some contentious and divisive issue. I’ve shown that I don’t back away from tough decisions and have the angry emails to prove it. That being said, a community center project should not be a contentious issue; A community center project should be the source of community excitement and optimism.
This was not an easy decision. We’ve been working on the community center issue for five years and I appreciate that City Staff and my Council colleagues continually work toward what is best for all of Bloomington. I am not opposed to a new Bloomington community center, but I don’t believe Valley View is the correct site. Our work continues.