targeted wellness programs
Throughout his service on the Bloomington Advisory Board of Health, Patrick has seen innovative public health programs narrow disparities in quality of life and save significant cost long-term by avoiding chronic care and emergency medical expenses. This is all the clearer in light of the recent measles outbreak.
As a Bloomington Councilmember, Patrick would work to empower our public health department to deepen partnerships with neighboring cities, push for resources to accurately survey needs, and advocate for creative initiatives targeting vulnerable populations, including:
- Senior Citizens: Nearly a third of all Bloomington seniors live alone, a figure that will only rise as our city's overall population skews disproportionately older. By promoting programs like senior home visits by nurses and community clinics in central spaces we can lower risks of malnutrition, social isolation, medication mismanagement, and accidental injuries. Patrick strongly believes that supporting the generations that built our community is more than a smart idea - it is the right thing to do.
- Youth and Families: As East Bloomington's population growth is fueled by young and often lower income families, Patrick will continue to advocate for regional partnerships providing prenatal and early childhood nutrition and education programs. He believes that key initiatives such as implementation of WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), family home visiting, and Parks Ambassador outreach should be strategically promoted. As Frederick Douglass once explained, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."
improved Parks, Paths, and trails
Throughout Patrick's time on the Bloomington Parks, Arts, and Recreation Commission, data has consistently underscored that robust community amenities draw the young families that our city urgently needs to attract. While our Parks Improvement Plan is commendable for its geographic equity, community needs assessments indicate shortfalls in program offerings and facilities. As Bloomington's demographics continue to shift, Patrick will push for strategic investments that will keep our city a premier destination for recreation and cultural outings. Examples include:
- A flexible community center: A lack of gymnasium, multi-purpose, and public fitness spaces has significantly constrained the types and availability of programming that can be offered across Bloomington. Our aging Creekside Community Center should be replaced with a comprehensive facility featuring expanded recreation, community education, and public health access. Considering our resident's greater usage of public transportation, their limited access to private fitness facilities, and the significantly larger population of youth seeking after-school programming, Patrick will argue that strong consideration be given to locating the facility towards East Bloomington.
- Completion of the Alternative Transportation Plan: Walkers, riders, and outdoor enthusiasts have expressed growing demand for a network of safe and comprehensive paths and trails. It is key that Bloomington strengthen regional partnerships as it enters the next phase of its Alternative Transportation Plan. Special attention should be paid to trails featured in the Minnesota River Valley Strategic Plan, especially with regards to long-term maintenance costs due to extensive erosion and regular flooding.
Bridging business divides
According to the 2016 National Business Survey, 83% of Bloomington companies overall rank the city as a good place to do business. However, the retail, service, and construction industries that make up the largest portion of East Bloomington's economy consistently rated mobility (public transportation and road repair), retention of existing companies, and perceptions of sense of community 15%-20% lower than other respondents. As the city seeks to attract and keep quality jobs it is paramount that the perspectives of all businesses, from corporate giants to small shops, are represented in development planning. An area of special priority is:
- The South Loop District: The city estimates that two-thirds of our population growth over the next four decades will be in East Bloomington's South Loop District. While creative placemaking efforts are beautifying the area, survey data highlights significant issues remain with regards traffic flow, road repairs, and a fully integrated public transportation network. Therefore it is crucial for the economic viability of the South Loop that retail and service employees have accessible transportation options. In addition, special care should be paid to diversifying the neighborhood's business community to avoid a heavy reliance on hotels and restaurants.
- Meeting housing demand: As the city enacts its vision to root Bloomington's overall growth in the East side, Patrick knows it is essential to preserve and expand lower-cost residential options for the nearly 40% of residents who report difficulty finding affordable housing. With average city-wide vacancy rates consistently below 2%, substantial obstacles exist for individuals and families considering living and working in Bloomington. Attracting and retaining those prospective employees will be a top priority for businesses considering East Bloomington. It should be a top priority for our City Council as well.