A brief history of the sales-tax initiative and the discourse around bike trails in the park

Restore the Nine, while not against bicycles in general, believes a bicycle trail through Central Park and this part of the Nine Mile Creek Corridor would have negative environmental and aesthetic impacts on the park. “But the City says there is no plan for a bike path,” you might say. Well, that wasn’t always the case. In fact, bicycle trails were the plan in the beginning, and why Restore the Nine continues to address the issue.

For those of you not in the know, this section talks about the .5% local sales tax increase passed by Bloomington voters on November 7, 2023.

December 9, 2022

To be allowed to add a sales tax, the city of Bloomington needed to get legislative approval from the state, and then from Bloomington voters.

In a City Council Annual Legislative Meeting attended by state legislators and representatives from other governing bodies, the idea of using a local sales tax to fund the Ice Garden, a Community Center and Nine Mile Creek Corridor (NMCC) restoration was discussed.

Ann Kattreh described the NMCC project and said: “We also heard from residents that they want to be able to bike in that park and currently the trails aren’t wide enough to allow biking so this would give us an opportunity to widen the trails, put in new bridges so that people would have easier access to the river valley.”

January 9, 2023

Plans presented

The Parks and Recreation department presented their plan for the sales-tax projects to the City Council. This slide, presented at that meeting, shows the NMCC plan includes “trail widening to allow bikes along the trails.”

January 23, 2023

Sales-tax resolution passed

With just one week until the deadline to get the sales tax proposal to the state legislature, the City Council approved all three projects.

The resolution, 2023-11, included specifics for the NMCC project, including: “trail widening to improve safety and allow bikes along the park trails.”

May 24, 2023

Sales-tax authorization signed into law

The state legislature approved the sales tax proposal. The new law did not specify any particulars for the NMC project. It reads simply, “$20,000,000 for new construction and restoration of the Nine Mile Creek Corridor Renewal and associated infrastructure.”

The ballot measure is written

The new state law allowed Bloomington to add a sales tax increase, but Bloomington voters still need to approve it. Question 3 was the ballot question specific to the NMCC.

Summer, 2023

The Bloomington Forward campaign launches

Though Bloomington started putting out information as early as June, most residents first heard about the new ballot questions from articles in the September Bloomington Briefing and signs put up by the City in August.

The primary location of information on the sales-tax initiatives was (and still is) the website bloomingtonforward.org.

What was on Bloomingtonforward.org

At that time, the Bloomington Forward website mentioned bikes on its Plan page, its FAQ page, and in a video about the project plans.

In the video, the narrator said, “The trails today aren't safe for bikes and walkers combined just because of their width and the slopes and blind turns that exist. Project would allow bikes through Moir and Central Park and connection for both pedestrians and bikes to the planned Minnesota State Trail in the Minnesota River Valley, as well as the existing river bottom trails that are really popular for mountain bikes.”

September, 2023

Residents react, the City responds

Many residents who regularly walked in the park were not happy about the idea of bike trails. But when concerned residents contacted the City, the responses implied that a bike trail was a done deal and was what most residents wanted. At right are excerpts from communications between the City and a resident.

Late September, 2023

The City changes its position

So many people contacted the City about the proposed bike trail that they decided to remove most references to bicycles from the Bloomington Forward website, but did leave the above-mentioned video.

Also, the City started responding to residents’ concerns by saying that there were no plans for a bicycle trail and that residents would be consulted before any plans were made—a significant change in messaging.

Many people remained suspicious, not knowing whether the City had had a change of heart or was simply hiding their true intentions.

November 7, 2023

The sales-tax initiatives pass

Election day. All three ballot questions for the sales-tax initiative passed.

November 11, 2023

Restore the Nine was formed to continue to work toward protecting the park’s woodlands, wetlands, and waters.

Details and sources

Details and sources for the above timeline can be found by clicking Learn More.


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Deer in my yard
photo by Connie A