Library Lot

Stopped. Watched. icon

Cruised through by bike, later by car. Everything normal, with no sign that this is the last day for this convenient and well-used lot. Signs announce the closing, otherwise parking as usual.

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  1. September 30, 2009 at 9:43 pm | permalink

    What would have been the result of a referendum on whether to close this lot?

  2. September 30, 2009 at 10:39 pm | permalink

    Vivienne – That’s why we have elected representatives. They have time to study and consider things. They screw up occasionally but on the whole they seem to be doing a good job. Sure a lot better than I would do.

  3. By Peter Zetlin
    October 1, 2009 at 10:51 am | permalink

    It’s not clear to me that our elected representatives provide thoughtful, transparent government which represents the interests of residents. Last winter, as the city was preparing to spend millions of dollars for construction of the police-courts building, I wrote to City Council:

    “As an Ann Arbor taxpayer, I oppose construction of an expensive city hall. Ann Arbor’s economic future may not be that strong in coming years. City revenues may be under increased pressure. While the need for expanded space is important, the city must become more cost conscious.”

    Mayor Hieftje replied:

    “While I have not voted in favor of building a Courthouse/Police Station addition onto City Hall I do recognize the need. My reservations run along the lines of yours.”

    True or not, one does hear that the mayor is a strong supporter of development but that he creates the impression that he is not. There is also some feeling that the City Council push for the library parking lot and a high rise convention center on top of it is considered a “done deal” whether it represents the public will or not.

    As the city considered approximately $100 million of construction, the Michigan economy was weak. The global economy had been strong, but Michigan did not participate in that expansion. It seemed reasonable to question what would happen in Michigan if the world slowed down.

    One thing you can say is that if Council had been more prescient on the potential for economic problems, the city could have expanded into the Ann Arbor News building, most likely saving some money, absorbing vacant downtown space, and as well, helping to preserve the character of downtown.

    While it’s true that government officials can study needs much more thoroughly than voters can, I wouldn’t mind seeing some new faces on City Council.

  4. By Gale Logan
    October 1, 2009 at 11:39 am | permalink

    Peter: The new court house and police station have been talked to death but here goes… You brought it up.

    I wrote the mayor about that time too, in the winter of 2008. Well before the foreclosure crisis and market crash. Per Gary’s email, the council and mayor were studying the issue and looking at it in depth. He held the project up for many months to further explore options and force them to get all the bugs worked out of the financing plan so it does not hit the operating budget. The rents they save will make the bond payments.

    The city was looking for a police station option for 10 years and trying to find an option for the courts. Once the county said they would not renew the lease they had to do something and just any old building won’t work for the courts Judges need secure parking and a separate entrance to meet court requirements, same for the prisoners.

    The A2 News building wasn’t for sale then so why argue it anyway? But it would not have worked, no way for parking under the building, where would the police go, etc.

    I agree with Gary, especially when I look at the financial problems hitting every government in this state. Look at the county, they are in much worse shape than the city. As I look around A2 Govt. is moving forward in the midst of crisis and providing jobs people need right now. A2 is way better off than other places in this state. As I have heard so many people say, if the UM had not chosen this time to take over the Pfizer property the city budget would be fine.

    As for the parking structure I am against a convention center too but for the parking. Downtown is set to lose a lot of parking and no matter how much the city supports alternatives they can’t leave downtown without enough parking, the risk it too great. The state is littered with towns with a hole in the middle.

    I could go for a new residential building with room for a park and a fountain, a smaller hotel with meeting space but not a convention center. Whatever goes there it has to have some park space but something should go there downtown needs more people living in it if what is there is going to be sustained.

  5. By Rod Johnson
    October 1, 2009 at 12:33 pm | permalink

    Why not a convention center? Just curious what the pros and cons are. The (alleged) need for a place to host conventions has been talked about as long as I’ve lived in Ann Arbor (35 years now). The U doesn’t really have the facilities, but it makes Ann Arbor an attractive spot for organizations looking for host cities. Do we just not want conventions in our town?

    Agreed on the need for park space downtown. I wish we could redo Liberty Plaza, which has the aesthetics of a parking ramp.

  6. October 1, 2009 at 1:51 pm | permalink

    Peter – It looks to me like your cherry picking outcomes that support your position. Not hard to do with any institution, company or other body that makes decisions.

    I think Gale hit it on the head. Look around. Almost every Michigan city is worse off than Ann Arbor. To me that is a telling argument that most things – maybe not all, but most –things are going right.

    Rod – I agree that a convention center it is worth a look. Maybe it can be tied into a hotel that is a possibility on the site. The more people that see Ann Arbor as a hub of something, the better.