Bloomington Water Director to Step Down to Spend More Time with Family

News Government
City of Bloomington Water Director Bob Yehl, center, speaks during a City council meeting February 13, 2017. (Photo: City of Bloomington/Youtube)

City of Bloomington Water Director Bob Yehl, center, speaks during a City council meeting February 13, 2017. (Photo: City of Bloomington/Youtube)

City of Bloomington Water Director Robert Yehl confirmed Monday he plans to step down from the position.

Yehl announced last week he will remain water director until the City confirms a replacement when he will transition to serve as an engineer in the City’s public works department.

Yehl said his reasons for the decision “all stem from family.”

“My goal my entire career is to put faith and family above work; I have not been able to accomplish that goal the last few years I’ve been at the water department.

Yehl said his upcoming role in the public works department will allow him to continue to serve the public while achieving a better work-life balance.

Recent public attention toward the City’s plans to remove a number of Lake Bloomington docks played no part in his decision to step down as water director, Yehl said.

Last month Bloomington aldermen approved a resolution directing water department staff to order the removal of 18 docks staff say are in violation of City code. The department has faced criticism from Lake Bloomington residents over how it communicated its plans to the public over the last two years.

At a City Council meeting February 13, 2017, Yehl said staff sought to codify department general practices with a proposed ordinance that would not affect existing structures. Council members tabled the ordinance over concerns that the City had yet to discuss the issue publicly with Lake Bloomington residents.

Staff offered sample motions for a council vote April 9, 2018, all calling for the removal of existing docks belonging to “non-lakefront lessees.” Several dock owners spoke publicly asking that the City grandfather in the docks they said were built decades ago with City permission.

Yehl admitted the department’s permitting process over the years has been inconsistent, arguing it’s been standard practice to deny dock permits for non-lakefront lessees since the 1970s.

Residents and some council members also took issue with the department’s assertion that preserving water quality at the lake (a reservoir for Bloomington and surrounding communities) is the main driver of the City’s pursuit of the docks’ removal.

“There are many different issues and responsibilities that every department deals with on a day-to-day basis,” Yehl said Monday. “The vast majority of those issues do not make the news media, but there are still a number of those issues that create disagreement going forward, and staff is no stranger of working through those to find the best solution based on the existing ordinances and rules.”

Interim Bloomington City Manager Steve Rasmussen said in a statement he is “saddened” to see Yehl step down from the role but pleased that he will continue serving with the City. “I appreciate the personal reasons he is seeking this transition as well as his passion and enthusiasm for serving the public.”

City Communications Manager Nora Dukowitz said the change in leadership won’t affect the department’s plans to serve the owners of the docks with compliance orders.