The West Bloomington Task Force was created by the
Economic Development Council of the City of
The first strategy outlined in the West Bloomington
Neighborhood Plan concerns community greening.
This was because those on the Task Force decided that the
community needed more open spaces for recreational activities and
community events. The first
project was the creation of a community garden for vegetables, plants,
etc and the creation of classes on gardening, recycling, landscaping,
etc. The garden was created
almost immediately after the idea was conceived and was created by
volunteers around the community.
This project was so successful that the community is considering
the creation of another community garden.
Plans are in-the-making for the next project, which deals with
streetscape improvements along
The next strategy outlined in the plan deals with
the youth within the community.
The first project deals with the creation of a clearinghouse of
all community after-school programs, volunteer, work and mentoring
programs. A few other
projects include working with the community’s three elementary schools
in order to make a program to put children’s art on display in public
places, the creation of a bike-share program, and working with ISU and
IWU to create a college visit day as well as strengthen the already
existing mentoring program between college students and children.
The Task Force has also suggested working with 4-H and Urban
League to offer classes in math and science.
This could be done through tutoring, after school study sessions
and summer classes. Another
project deals with the establishment of a program for the youth to meet
with senior citizens within their community.
The creation of a community center at
Another area of concern within the community is the
safety and well-being of residents within the area.
The Task Force suggested many programs that would help enhance
the safety and security of Westside citizens.
The first item suggested is the creation of a new neighborhood
watch. Many parts of
The next strategy outlined in the Neighborhood Plan deals with economic development. The first goal is to keep already existing employers in the area and encourage them to expand as well as to try and get new employers to the Westside. The Task Force also wants to work with the Bloomington/Normal Public Transit System to create an “Early Hours Program” in order to assist those residents who need transportation before six, as well as provide transportation on Sundays. The Transit System already has an “After Hours” program in place. Another project outlined in the plan is working with EDC, ISU and IWU to encourage new businesses to start up. Other projects include the creation of a more competitive business market by rebranding the downtown area and creating financial and economic training as well as workforce development programming for citizens. The intersection at Market and Howard has been identified as a place for redevelopment to allow for more businesses and more consumers.
Housing was also another issue addressed by the Task Force. The first project deals with the creation of more housing for a wider range of incomes. A Housing Committee has already been formed to oversee these activities. Other projects concerning housing include building and changing houses to allow for accessibility for the elderly and the disabled, provide EAH (Employer Assisted Housing), re-do vacant homes and work to occupy them as well as helping create more live/work affordable studios for creative arts professionals. The Neighborhood Plan also outlines a project to offer classes to landlord and tenants on the rights and responsibilities and to allow citizens to receive funds for green housing and weatherization projects. The Task Force also wants to allow for more types of buildings where the first floor is used for a business and has residential units above it. They also want to help those who are facing a possible foreclosure on their homes and to continue to enforce the City’s building code and possibly suggest changes to it. For implementation of this, the Task Force suggests that the zoning code needs to up dated in order to have more mixed housing types, allow for more neighborhood walkability, revitalize vacant areas and implement regulations for road standards. Habitat for Humanity and Mid Central Community Action has already taken steps to increase the amount of affordable homes on the Westside. A few other suggestions include the continuation of support to help those who are unemployed or mentally challenged, allow for the education and programs for people that could become homeowners, attempt to get the City to implement a vacant building ordinance and to use CDBG funds to repair apartment buildings.
Education was also another big concern outlined by the Task Force. They want to create free or low-cost programs that teach adults life skills, counsel high school and junior high school students about planning for college and life after high school, to continue to allow for community use after-school and on weekends at nearby schools, work with the Bloomington Public Library to expand their services to the Westside, create more programs and courses that are educational and are specifically for senior citizens and to allow for low-cost transportation between Bloomington and Normal. This is so that Westside residents can have educational opportunities located throughout Bloomington/Normal. Community programs that are already in-place at schools on the Westside include Boy and Girl Scouts, ESL, Parks and Recreation sports, the GED program, the blood drive and neighborhood watch meetings.
Overall, the Task Force who put together the West Bloomington Neighborhood Plan has found over 25 participating organizations that are helping to implement this plan. Although this plan has many good ideas, there are only a few of the projects outlined that have actually been implemented. Also, while nearly all of the ideas of the plan seem good as well as possible, there is not any information on how the Task Force plans to come up with the money needed to implement these projects. They have found organizations that can help implement them, but they fail to lay out step by step guidelines on how they are going to achieve them. The Task Force may want to update the Neighborhood Plan in order to attempt to further implement these projects in order to make the Westside a better and safer place to live.