The Bloomington City Council has decided to keep Creekside Community Center closed through the end of the year but to maintain for now the city's motor vehicle office.
Facing a potential budget shortfall because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the council earlier this month considered shuttering both facilities for good, or at least partly closing the community center. That decision was postponed to allow residents to weigh in.
The council Monday night unanimously decided to halt programming at Creekside for the rest of the year, though food programs will continue to run there. Officials said that will save the city an estimated $390,000 a year. Shutting down the aging facility entirely would have saved about $700,000 annually.
The council also decided to continue offering services at the city's motor vehicle office at its civic campus despite an operating loss. The city's 2020 budget provides for $125,000 in property tax support for the motor vehicle office, and costs are expected to climb to $250,000 in 2021.
Reserve funds can cover the office's operating loss this year, said City Manager Jamie Verbrugge.
Further decisions on the fate of the two facilities will now fall to a community budget advisory committee, which the council voted to form at its meeting Monday.
Mayor Tim Busse called the council's actions on the facilities and the new budget committee "effective and prudent."
"When we first started talking about [these cuts], we didn't have the tool of the advisory committee in our tool kit," he said. "That gives the opportunity to look at these services as part of a holistic look at the city budget."
The future of Creekside has been the subject of ongoing debate that has brought rounds of discussion about transparency and resident input.
In December, after getting public pushback for the idea of building a community center at a popular park, the council chose not to move forward with the predesign phase and instead explore the creation of multiple "centers of community."
Council Member Nathan Coulter said he supported the "mothballing" strategy for Creekside, but it's not a permanent fix to the ongoing issue about the facility's future.
"I think we need to be clear with ourselves and with the public that this is a temporary solution," he said.