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8/4/2017 2:29:00 PM
Planning expert critiques West Kirkwood Avenue development in Bloomington
About 20 Bloomington city government officials toured West Kirkwood Avenue Thursday with Charles Marohn, left, president and founder of Strong Towns. Staff photo by Kurt Christian
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About 20 Bloomington city government officials toured West Kirkwood Avenue Thursday with Charles Marohn, left, president and founder of Strong Towns. Staff photo by Kurt Christian

Kurt Christian, Herald-Times

It took one man less than two hours to stroll down West Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington and deconstruct the entire city.

Bloomington was not left in ruins after Charles Marohn and about 20 city officials completed their curbside chat, but the city's image did have a few holes in it by the tour's end. Marohn is the founder and president of Strong Towns, a media organization with its sights aimed at addressing the shortfalls of urban planning that chip away at a town or city's efficiency.

"Residents are dealing with the symptoms right now," Marohn said, taking a break in the city hall atrium before his 7 p.m. lecture at the Buskirk Chumley Theater. "At the city level, we don't get to ship out our government to someone else. It's on us." 

Marohn is a licensed professional engineer out of Minnesota and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, according to StrongTowns.org. An author and lead content creator for the website, Marohn received his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota's Institute of Technology and a masters in urban and regional planning from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute.

Bethany Emenhiser, program manager for historic preservation in the city's Housing and Neighborhood Development department, saw Marohn speak at the state historic preservation conference and wondered what he'd think of Bloomington and West Kirkwood Avenue, in particular.

"There's not a lot of development happening there, but it has definitely been a discussion point for years," Emenhiser said.

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