Unsettling Bloomington

I was considering writing yet another column about Bobby Knight, when it occurred to me that nearly everybody on the face of the planet has an opinion about the situation, including my mother. And she didn’t know the name Bobby Knight until a few weeks ago. Instead, I am going to write about other Bloomington happenings, which in a more direct and tangible way affects all of us.

I’m talking about Kirkwood, the main drag between the Sample Gates and the Court House Square where all the good places to go in town are located. Better than the mall, better than Wal-Mart, Kirkwood is where you get to see all the interesting and friendly people in town.

I do have to admit that the construction this summer, which has dug up Kirkwood, has caused a few problems. The construction office has taken up People’s Park, which has had the effect of displacing the restless youth of Bloomington, who while interesting, are not necessarily friendly.

Actually, that has been the worst part of the construction experience: instead of the kids just staying put, they’ve now taken up roaming up and down Kirkwood terrorizing people. I had a guest visiting, and one day while walking up Kirkwood, one of these youths followed my guest, and I was not comfortable with the situation.

I guess what I’ve learned is that People’s Park served a purpose: it kept the youths in one confined space that we all could avoid or visit, depending upon our willingness to take a risk. The project this summer has literally removed the asphalt and dug up the street in an effort to put the Jordan River into a new tunnel under the street and up Dunn Street toward Sixth. It has been quite a disaster for business owners, but fascinating for the kid in me. I actually spent a fair amount of time staring into the hole earlier this week.

The first thing that really amazed me was how close to the surface the old tunnel actually is. If you hurry down to Kirkwood this week, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the tunnel before they finish tearing out the street and sidewalks above it.

Which brings me to my second amazement: the old tunnel looks really old and unsafe. I’m no engineer, but I’m glad they’re taking the time to replace the old tunnel with the new one now, and not ten years from now. The other parts of the construction have also been mighty interesting, like Monday, when the construction crews managed to slice into a water main and a gas line in the space of 20 minutes.

The gas leak forced the evacuation of Dunnkirk Square, pushing people into the streets, just after 2:30 p.m. Conveniently, I might note, in time for people to go off and find the television set, which does bring me full circle, and right back to Bobby Knight.

Near as I can tell, time came to a standstill in Bloomington Monday at 3 p.m., and the world fixed its stare on Myles Brand in Indianapolis. I can’t recall any event that caught public attention as deeply since the O.J. Simpson verdict.

Unfortunately for the guys at Indiana Gas, they were trying to fix the leak through the press conference, for I know that the question that will be asked 10 years from now throughout Indiana: Where were you when Bobby Knight was suspended for three games? I’ll be able to say, I was at home, in Bloomington, watching my TV.

Where were you?

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