Bloomington Mayor Thomson Halts Police Station Move Amid Financial Concerns

City of Bloomington

Staff report

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — February 5, 2024

Plans to relocate the Bloomington Police station faced an abrupt halt on Monday after the Bloomington Redevelopment Commission (RDC) rejected all bids for the proposed site during its meeting. In response, Mayor Kerry Thomson took to Facebook to address the community and shed light on the decision-making process behind the move.

“Hi everyone, it’s Mayor Kerry Thomson,” the mayor began in a video statement posted on Facebook. “As you may have heard, the RDC just met and passed the motion to reject all bids for Showers West. Now, I wanted to take a moment to explain what’s happening.”

Since assuming office a month ago, Mayor Thomson and her team have conducted a thorough review of the city’s finances, processes, and ongoing projects. Among these projects is Showers West, a plan initiated by the previous administration to consolidate the Fire and Police Headquarters under the same roof, incurring substantial costs for renovations and improvements.

“To ensure the city’s moving forward in a fiscally responsible way and addressing our long-term public safety needs, I pulled together a small group of residents to bring a fresh set of eyes to this project and advise the city on how to move forward,” Mayor Thomson explained.

While the mayor did not disclose the names of the residents in the advisory group, she emphasized their role in providing a comprehensive evaluation of the project. The group concluded that the financial aspects of the proposed construction did not align with the city’s budgetary constraints.

“The math simply doesn’t work,” Mayor Thomson said. “The city does not have all the funding to follow through on its commitments, including rebuilding two fire stations, creating a new fire logistics center, and constructing an entirely new police station within Showers West.”

As a result of this reality, the mayor announced a pivot in the city’s approach. The two fire stations, the fire logistics center, and the Fire Administration are set to proceed, with the Fire Administration relocating to the vacated space within Showers West. However, the fate of the police headquarters remains uncertain.

“I want to reassure you that we will be moving forward with the two fire stations, the fire logistics center, and we anticipate that the Fire Administration will be relocated to the already vacated space within Showers West. We will still have to address the police headquarters as a separate matter, and I will have more to say about that in the coming months,” Mayor Thomson assured the community.

She concluded her statement by expressing a commitment to collaboration with residents, staff, and city council in determining the next steps for the police station and exploring community-wide public safety collaborations.

The mayor’s announcement came in the form of a video posted on Tuesday evening, after the traditional deadline for most local news sites. This departure from the past administration’s practice of issuing press releases underscores Mayor Thomson’s consistent use of Facebook videos to communicate directly with the community.

The move by the previous administration to put the police station at Showers was opposed by the police union. The family that granted land to the city for the current police station, opposed the sale of the property, which was to be a public park.

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