The Ottumwa Courier

January 28, 2014

Downtown Bloomfield getting a makeover

By JOSH VARDAMAN
Courier staff writer

---- — BLOOMFIELD — Rejuvenating downtown areas is a very hot topic around several southeast Iowa towns.

Main Street Ottumwa has been the driving force behind many projects in downtown Ottumwa. Likewise, the Bloomfield Main Street organization is doing much of the same in Bloomfield.

Their goal is to preserve and revitalize the downtown commercial district and surrounding blocks. Through several community betterment projects, the Bloomfield downtown square has begun getting quite the makeover.

Since 2010, most of the buildings in the square have been the recipients of infrastructure upgrades, and there have even been park benches put along the sidewalks. However, the upgrade to the downtown area is not complete.

Before the work was done to the building infrastructure downtown, Bloomfield Main Street was able to get a grant for downtown visioning. However, the city of Bloomfield wanted to make sure many of the buildings around the square were better stabilized before moving on to further projects.

Now that work has been completed to fortify the downtown buildings, planning is being done to determine what the next step is for Bloomfield Main Street.

On Jan. 16, members of the community were invited to a special meeting to discuss what they wanted to see done to the downtown square and the surrounding eight blocks.

Bloomfield Main Street committee members took input from the public about what needs to be addressed within the nine-block area. Included with the inquiries, according to committee member Chris Ball, were parking changes, sidewalk safety and the addition of geothermal heating under the sidewalks.

“We really went everywhere,” Ball said.

Now that the committee has gotten input from the public, the architects and engineers for the project will pull together a list of top priorities, according to Ball. On Feb. 6, they will spend most of the day in Bloomfield looking at specifics for the project, such as looking at ways to make safer sidewalks, should that be one of the goals.

After the architects and engineers go over the details, a preliminary plan will be made before the final presentation of the project at an open public meeting on Feb. 20, then again at the Bloomfield City Council meeting later that night.

Although there is headway being made in the planning stages for the project, completion is still some time away, according to Ball.

“This has been many years coming and will be many years before it’s finished,” he said. “We probably won’t see anything physical happening until next year.”

While the physical labor portions of the projects will not be completed in the very near future, the preparation is in full swing.

“The planning is happening now,” Ball said.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh