Bloomington, Indiana – October 10, 2023
A motion to approve street closures for the installation of the Miller-Showers gateway monolith failed Tuesday night when it didn’t receive a second during the Board of Public Works meeting at City Hall. The proposed monolith, often referred to as “The Monolith” on social media, intended to be a city welcome tower with the word “Bloomington” written on it, faced heavy opposition from community members.
Before the motion failed, several individuals took the opportunity to express their concerns regarding the controversial “gateway project.” Charlotte Zietlow characterized the structure as a “phallic symbol” and urged the board to oppose its construction, citing the community’s strong opposition and labeling it an unsightly affront.
Susan Brackney raised questions about potential environmental impacts, particularly regarding migratory birds and light pollution. She also emphasized the need for potential alterations to municipal code and liability considerations. Brackney called on the board to act as a “fail-safe” against the installation of the monolith.
Betty Rose Nagle appealed to the board to protect Mayor John Hamilton’s reputation and called for accountability when mistakes are made.
Valda Hillery voiced concerns about the project’s impact on local wildlife and likened it to a strange decision made during the pandemic, emphasizing the importance of reevaluating plans even after they have been set in motion.
Joe Davis criticized the structure as a “phallic monument” to Mayor John Hamilton and expressed his disapproval.
David Ebbinghouse, a Bloomington artist, expressed his reservations about the monolith, saying it’s not suitable for the city.
Others in attendance indicated they had only recently become aware of the project. Jamie Goodman noted that the monolith did not seem to be a good fit for its proposed site, and an anonymous commenter urged a halt to the project, finding it uninteresting.
Questions were also raised about the choice of an Indianapolis company to construct the monolith instead of Bloomington artists. Additionally, someone queried why limestone was not selected as the building material.
No individuals spoke in favor of the monolith before the board’s vote.
Prior to the meeting, a group of protesters gathered outside City Hall to demonstrate against the monolith. One protester, dressed as the Grim Reaper, held a scythe with the word “Bloomington” inscribed on it. In the background stood the remnants of the old Johnson Creamery smokestack, a once 160-foot-tall iconic landmark that the city had previously claimed it lacked the funds to repair, before selling the site to real estate developers, before it was subsequently mostly dismantled.