PAC OKs Park Plan, Suggests Golf Fee Bump

Also: Setbacks in West Park; updates on budget, Argo Dam

Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Feb. 15, 2011): In their main business of the afternoon, park advisory commissioners signed off on the city’s Parks and Recreation Open Space (PROS) plan – an item it had postponed from its January monthly meeting.

John Lawter, Amy Kuras, Gwen Nystuen

Before the meeting, park advisory commissioner John Lawter receives the final draft of the PROS plan from park planner Amy Kuras. Looking on is commissioner Gwen Nystuen. (Photos by the writer.)

Before approving the plan, the commission heard public commentary on the issue, as well as an update from park planner Amy Kuras about how some concerns had been addressed in revisions to earlier drafts. Later in the evening, the city’s planning commission also signed off on the plan. The PROS plan is set to come before the city council on March 7.

Heard during public commentary was criticism of the PROS plan for language it contains describing public-private partnerships for park services. One example of a potential partnership arose later in the meeting, when parks and recreation deputy manager Jeff Straw outlined a request for proposals, currently in draft form, that would explore interest from vendors in providing food concessions at park facilities.

The commission also approved a recommendation to raise fees slightly at the city’s golf courses for some items. Consideration of the fee increase came prior to the year’s regular budget decisions, so that the city council can consider and give final approval to the fee increases before the city’s golf courses open for play in the spring.

Also at the meeting, parks and recreation manager Colin Smith reviewed the parks budget presentation that had been made at a Jan. 31, 2011 city council work session. Smith also gave commissioners an update on two items concerning Argo Dam. He described how intake lines for a well that’s used for measuring water levels in the pond – so that the dam gates can regulate that level – had become clogged, and had ultimately required hiring a diver to unclog one of them.

The second Argo-related item was an update on the planned bypass channel which was recommended by the city’s park advisory commission and approved by the city council last year. Insurance issues are still being worked out with the contractor, Smith said, and construction will not start as early has had been hoped. Construction is not expected to be complete before the end of the construction season – in November.

Commissioners also agreed that before the city council approves the operating agreement between the city and the University of Michigan for the planned Fuller Road Station, they would like an opportunity to review that agreement.

At the meeting, commissioners also heard about a setback in a construction project that’s already nearing completion – renovations to the drainage system in West Park. Eight swirl concentrators were installed as a part of the project – four near the north Seventh Street entrance and four near the south entrance on Seventh. Craig Hupy, head of systems planning for the city, reported that four out of the eight swirl concentrators were in some state of failure, and that one of the four had experienced a catastrophic failure. The other four are also suspected to have problems.

West Park Swirl Concentrators: Catastrophic Failure

During the 2010 construction season, the city undertook major renovations to the drain system in West Park. Craig Hupy, head of systems planning for the city, seemed glum as he gave an update to park commissioners about a setback in the work. Most of the work in the park is complete, he said. The work around the park amenities, like the play area and the bandshell, is complete. The plantings for the wetland basins are not yet done, because spring is a better time to set them out.

West Park Swirl Concentrator

View looking northeast from Seventh Street at the edge of West Park: site of the failed swirl concentrator. The backhoe had departed by the time this photograph was taken.

He began the discouraging part of the report by describing how there is currently a big yellow backhoe at the northwest end of the park on Seventh Street. The presence of the backhoe, he said, was due to a “catastrophic failure” in the new stormwater infrastructure that had been installed. During the construction work in the park, Hupy said, changes were made to the drain system. Eight swirl concentrator units – which help remove solids in the stormwater stream – had been installed as part of the drain system improvements, he explained. Four units were installed near the north Seventh Street entrance of the park and four units were installed near the south entrance on Seventh.

He told commissioners that one of the units on the north end had failed catastrophically and that the three other units on the north end were in some state of failure. They also suspect that the four units on the south end may be suffering similar failures. It’s not clear what caused the failure, Hupy said – the city has used such units at various other locations around the city. There are lawyers and engineers involved, he said, so there’s not yet any public statement that’s available.

Hupy also described how during heavy rains last year, the side of Seventh Street opposite the park had experienced a backup of water. It’s not completely clear, he said, whether the water backup was due to the construction configuration, or if it was due to changes in the park drainage system. The intent of the project, Hupy said, was of course to improve the drainage, not make it worse.

The use of the park amenities like the bandshell or the play area, he said, should not be affected by the work that will be required to put the swirl concentrators back in working order. They’d need to be dug up and rehabbed or replaced. Hupy indicated that the city hoped to be able to use the same source of funds that had paid for the project – a combination of federal stimulus and revolving loan – to effect the repairs.

Commissioner Tim Berla asked what exactly “failure” meant. Hupy told him the unit simply collapsed – nobody was hurt, though. Sam Offen wanted to know how long the repair would take – weeks or months? Hupy estimated that it would take until the end of the construction season – November.

Commission chair Julie Grand wanted to know what the implications for flooding are, with the swirl concentrators out of commission. Hupy explained that the walls directing water into the concentrators have been removed. The stormwater flow into the grates in Seventh Street was converted to overland flow through the park as a part of the project, he continued, so that should give an improvement in the stormwater management.


The Parks and Recreation Open Space (PROS) plan, which provides an inventory, needs assessment and action plan for the city’s parks system, is updated every five years. The updated document is required by the state in order for the city to be eligible to apply for certain grants. The process – led by park planner Amy Kuras – began in late 2009. The city’s park advisory commission was scheduled to vote on the plan at its Jan. 18, 2011 meeting, but that vote was postponed, because the time for public input had been set to last through Jan. 24.

PROS Plan: Public Comment

Dorothy Nordness led off public commentary by citing three areas of disappointment with the draft PROS plan. First, she cited a lack of commitment to a downtown greenway in the plan. It’s important to think well into the future, she said, not just about how to get through the next year or two. She said she grew up in Minneapolis, where planners had thought ahead and the city had developed a park system that led people to love it at first sight. She challenged Ann Arbor to do the same. Her second criticism was that Ann Arbor settles for parks without a special designation as “parkland” with accompanying protective language preventing sale or lease of the land. The general “public land” designation used by the city is not sufficient to prevent the altered use of parkland. She gave as an example the Fuller Road Station site, which she called “under siege.”

As her time elapsed, Nordness addressed the language in the plan dealing with public-private partnerships, saying that any such partnerships needed to have periodic evaluation. [.pdf of remarks by Nordness]

PROS Plan: Staff, Commissioner Comment – Public-Private

Park planner Amy Kuras summarized for commissioners a series of revisions she’d made to the plan since they’d seen it at their January meeting. Highlights included:

  • Section I: open space inventory now includes non-city open space; language about the city’s transportation plans and its open space millage has been added.
  • Section II: language has been added to include relationships between the parks system and independent nonprofits like Leslie Science and Nature Center.
  • Section III: information about the FY 2011 budget has been moved to an appendix; information on budget trends has been added.
  • Section IV: references to the “drain commissioner” have been updated to “water resources commissioner;” the font size for maps had been increased; the fact that Narrow Gauge is a nature area has been made clear; the relationship between Dicken Woods and the schools has been made clear.
  • Section V: language has been added about how park acquisition standards are developed; the section on downtown parks has been expanded; information on the city’s parkland charter amendment has been added; a map showing just the greenbelt boundary area has been replaced with one showing the specific properties protected by investments from the greenbelt millage.
  • Section VI: projects that are now known will be completed are described that way (like the Argo Dam bypass channel); a section on public-private partnerships has been added, which includes language about evaluating the risks of such partnerships.
  • Section VIII: a section about the greenway has been added, but no map has been included, because it’s not yet a part of any of the city’s master plans.

When Kuras finished ticking through the revisions, commissioner Tim Doyle wanted to know what the next step is. Kuras explained that later that day the planning commission would vote on the plan. Then it would be forwarded to the city council for their consideration on March 7. In connection with grant applications, the state’s deadline for final approval of the PROS plan, Kuras said, is actually March 1. She’s received an extension from the state, and later that evening she’d be FedEx-ing the plan to the state office, with a note saying that it is stilling pending approval by the city council.

The city will still be inside a different deadline for expiration of the current plan, which is April 1, Kuras explained.

Commissioner Gwen Nystuen wanted to know if there were any grants the city wanted to apply for that could be affected by not having the PROS plan approved. Yes, said Kuras, giving the Gallup Park canoe livery and a skatepark proposal as examples.

Mike Anglin, one of two city council ex-officio members of PAC, expressed concern about the exploration of public-private partnerships mentioned in the plan. Any RFP that would include divestment by the city in its parks should include input from PAC, he said. Anglin alluded to the RFP for the privatization of Huron Hills golf operations as an example of inadequate input from the public and PAC.

Kuras clarified that the added language she’d mentioned about public-private partnerships simply reflected the feedback from the planning commission for the section of the PROS plan that summarizes their input as a focus group. That section reads:

4) Staff should explore all opportunities to generate revenue, including public/private partnerships. A balanced view must include all possible risks inherent with acceptance of private funding.

Colin Smith stressed that inclusion of the concept of public-private partnerships is not new to the revised version of the PROS plan that PAC was being asked to consider. It’s been included in previous versions, and it’s also been emphasized that the risks must be balanced with the benefits.

Mike Anglin

Mike Anglin, an Ann Arbor city councilmember representing Ward 5 who also serves as an ex-officio member of the park advisory commission.

Smith addressed Anglin’s specific complaint about the RFP for Huron Hills golf operations by pointing out that the proposal had been discussed by the city’s golf task force and also by PAC itself. It had been a very public process, Smith said, and feedback from the public had been incorporated into the RFP.

The idea, said Smith, is that the city needs to look at opportunities for public-private partnerships, which is not to say that the city must take every one of those opportunities.

Commission chair Julie Grand also took exception to Anglin’s description of the Huron Hills RFP process, saying that she’d been present on the golf task force representing PAC for the RFP discussions, and had represented PAC at the interview with Miles of Golf, a local business that had responded to the RFP. She concluded that the Huron Hills RFP illustrated well that the city had weighed the risks and the benefits – the city ultimately rejected the Miles of Golf proposal.

Smith then gave various examples of public-private partnerships in the park and recreation system. Bryant Community Center and Leslie Science and Nature Center are operated by independent nonprofits, he said. The city’s recent promotion with Stonyfield Farm yogurt is another example, he said, as well as Zingerman’s products sold at Gallup canoe livery.

Gwen Nystuen said she thought Anglin’s point was important. She’d heard comments that the inclusion of public-private partnerships in the PROS plan made it sound like there was pressure to make money from the parks. Proposals like parking cars at Allmendinger and Frisinger parks on football Saturdays and the Huron Hills RFP were different from smaller, less permanent issues like concessions in the parks. She was concerned that permanent changes be treated differently from more minor decisions. Nystuen felt that PAC should have been more involved in the Huron Hills RFP than they were.

Smith responded to Nystuen by saying that the reality of the city’s situation is that it’s in a hard spot. They need to ask the question about whether to have a public-private partnership – even though they might answer, “No.” They need to look under every rock, he concluded.

Commissioner Tim Berla gave the city’s farmers market as another example of a public-private partnership. He noted that there had been a lot of upheaval in the community about the Huron Hills proposal, but in the end, nothing happened. It’s always important to weigh whether a proposal is good for the community or rather is simply good for some business. That could be done, he felt, without trying to impose a lot of rules for how public-private partnerships had to operate. The important thing is to make sure everything in the decision-making process is transparent, he said. He said the Huron Hills proposal showed that they’re doing a good job of that.

The discussion on the PROS plan concluded with a clarification from Smith, in response to some questions from Nystuen, about some budget information included in the plan. Administrative costs are not included in the costs of operating individual facilities, he explained.

Outcome: The park advisory commission voted unanimously to recommend adoption of the PROS plan.

Golf Course Fees

Before the commission was a recommendation to raise certain fees at the city’s golf courses. Power golf cart rentals for 9 holes at Leslie Park and Huron Hills would increase from $7 to $8; for 18 holes, the rental fee would increase from $13 to $14. City staff estimate the increases would generate $25,000 in additional revenue per season.

Weekend fees for 9 and 18 holes at Leslie Park golf course would increase by $2 and $1, respectively, and the twilight fee would increase to $16, up from $15. These increases would generate an estimated additional $12,500 in revenue per season. In addition, the commission approved raising the senior citizen qualification age to 59 for the 2011 season. That’s part of a consultant’s proposal to incrementally increase the qualification age from 55 to 62 by adding one year to the minimum age annually.

By way of introducing the proposed fee increases, Colin Smith told commissioners that the idea was to make sure that fees are still in line with other courses in the area. The fee increase for 18 holes of golf on the weekend would put Leslie at $30, Smith said, which is what the Pierce Lake course charges. The proposed increases had received unanimous support from the city’s golf task force two months ago, but they had not come easily to that conclusion.

Smith explained that the fee increase was coming to PAC in advance of the regular budget, because they wanted to get the fee increase in front of city council for final approval before the courses open in the spring.

Commissioner David Barrett got clarification that the budget impact was expected to be an extra $25,000 annuallyl from cart rentals and an extra $12,500 annually from the increase in fees for play. Commissioner Karen Levin wanted to know how often the fees were set. Smith explained that they’re reviewed every year to make sure they are in line with the competition.

Commissioner Tim Doyle wanted to know if there was a difference in price between city residents and non-city residents. Smith told Doyle that there was no difference. A recommendation from Golf Convergence had been to eliminate the different fees. Especially for Leslie, Smith said, differentiating between residents and non-residents on price was perceived negatively. It didn’t seem to make sense to pay more because you drive farther to get there.

Doyle wondered if there might be an impact on season pass sales if the price per round went up. Smith allowed that the fee increases could be a very minor additional economic incentive to purchase a season pass, but he did not think it would amount to more than a couple of extra passes sold.

Commissioner Sam Offen asked if there was any kind of combined season pass for various area municipal golf courses. Smith said there was not a season pass available, but that there was discussion of trying to coordinate marketing efforts.

Smith also clarified that once fees are set, staff has the flexibility to be creative about creating “specials.” He gave as an example a special deal where golfers could play 18 holes of golf for $18 if they started before 8 a.m. The tee timesheet between 7-8 a.m. is now full, he reported.

Mike Anglin wanted to know what the expected number of rounds would be at Huron Hills for the upcoming season. Smith put the numbers in perspective: In 2007, Huron Hills had seen 13,000 rounds played. Last year that number had risen to 22,000 rounds. This coming year, he’s hoping for 25,000 rounds, he said.

Commission chair Julie Grand asked for some explanation for the use of full-time year-round staff for the golf courses. Smith explained that the analysis of the previous season and planning for the upcoming season is done during the time the courses are closed. Smith said it’s not just the golf task force that has been instrumental in improving the number of rounds played over the last three years at the city’s golf courses. He attributed a lot of the success to the efforts of the city’s full-time golf course staff.

Smith also pointed out that the golf courses are not unique in having year-round staff, despite being open only part of the year. Canoe liveries follow that staffing strategy as well, he said. It’s during the off-season that programs are upgraded, and trends are studied. During the season, there’s only time to implement what has been developed during the off-season.

Commissioner Gwen Nystuen was curious to know if the off-season planning by the golf staff included use of Huron Hills for winter activities like cross-country skiing. Smith said he’s asked staff to contact local businesses that sell cross-country skis and snowshoes to begin a conversation about some kind of partnership, but indicated that he was not optimistic that it would generate revenue.

Outcome: PAC voted unanimously to recommend raising some of the fees associated with the city’s golf courses.

Budget Review

On the commission’s agenda was an update from parks and recreation manager Colin Smith on the parks and recreation planned FY 2012 budget. He reported from the city council’s budget work session on Jan. 31, 2011, which focused on the community services area, of which parks and recreation is a part. [.pdf of parks and recreation budget impact sheet]

Budget Review: Public Comment – Golf Courses

A large part of the discussion at the city council’s budget work session focused on options for the Huron Hills golf course. [.pdf of staff memos on golf course options and a $287,000 general fund supplement to the parks] At the park advisory commission meeting on Tuesday, commissioners heard public comment from two speakers who addressed the topic of Huron Hills golf course.

Nancy Kaplan told the commissioners that she was pleased with the apparent consensus reached by the city council at their Jan. 31. 2011 budget work session that Huron Hills would continue to be used as a park and that it also seemed agreed that the best economic use of the land is its current use – as a golf course. She expressed some concern about the fact that the city employs full-time, year-round employees for Huron Hills when the golf course is only open for part of the year. She suggested exploring additional opportunities for recreation at Huron Hills during the winter – ice-skating, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. She stressed that she was pleased that Huron Hills remains parkland.

Ann Schriber told the commissioners that she was pleased that the Miles of Golf proposal had been turned down. She described how there are more than 100 people involved in the effort to make sure that Huron Hills is kept as parkland, yet “nobody has ever asked us” for their input on ways to ensure its future as parkland. She said the city had spent $50,000 on a consultant and that her group, Ann Arbor for Parkland Preservation, had spent $10,000. With $60,000, she said, surely they could come up with something.

Budget Review: Staff, Commissioner Discussion

Smith laid out for the commission the main points of the city council work session presentation:

  • Ways that parks and recreation would be meeting its roughly 2.5% reduction target. [Energy savings in FY 2012 and increased revenues due to the construction of the Argo Dam bypass channel, in FY 2013]
  • A question about whether to continue a $287,000 supplement to the parks and recreation budget, which began in FY 2008 amid controversy over the interpretation of an October 2006 city council resolution about the administration of the parks capital improvements and maintenance millage.
  • Options for the future of Huron Hills golf course.

[For detailed coverage of the work session itself, see Chronicle coverage: "Ann Arbor 2012 Budget: Parks, Plans, People"]

With respect to the $287,000 parks supplement, Tim Berla recalled how the city’s chief financial officer had addressed PAC in 2007 in preparation for the FY 2008 budget planning and had explained how the parks budget does not increase at as high a rate as, for example the police department, which has a greater percentage of its costs due to personnel. He also recalled how part of the explanation for the apparent disparity in parks funding that year, compared to other parts of the budget, was related to the idea that a department can’t count savings for activities that had been discontinued.

In broad strokes, the controversy that resulted in the $287,000 parks supplement involved the language of the October 2006 resolution, which indicated that parks would be treated the same as other parts of the budget with respect to any increases or decreases.

Colin Smith, Ann Arbor parks and recreation manager

Before the meeting started, Colin Smith, manager of parks and recreation for the city Ann Arbor, distributes written material to commissioners.

Smith told Berla that an accounting of how the parks budget had been treated the same as other parts of the budget since 2007 was now prepared in draft form. Berla had requested a report on that at PAC’s Nov. 16, 2010 meeting.

Commissioner David Barrett recalled that he’d been there during the 2007 “kerfuffle” and that the concern had been that the newly-passed millage was being swallowed up by reductions of general fund support to the parks. He gave credit to then-councilmember Bob Johnson for working it out. There’d been a feeling that the public voted and was then being hornswoggled, Barrett said.

Smith said that the city’s accounting at the time had been correct, but that perceptions had been otherwise and so the $287,000 had been supplemented to make the parks whole.

Summarizing the apparent council consensus that Huron Hills would remain a golf course for the next two years at least, Smith said that the cost to the city to use the property as a golf course was in line with, if not less than, any non-golf uses.

Argo Dam Update: Bypass, Funding, Water Levels

Parks and recreation manager Colin Smith gave commissioners updates on two different Argo Dam-related issues. The first was news that the hoped-for construction start for the Argo Dam bypass channel would not be realized. The city was meeting with the contractor and is still working out insurance issues, he said. It will take until the end of the 2011 construction season to complete the work, he said.

In response to a question from John Lawter, Smith said that the issue of the parks responsibility for funding dam maintenance would be addressed during the budget process. [At issue is whether the funding for dam maintenance at Argo is appropriately taken from the city's drinking water utility fund, even though Argo is considered a recreational dam. The city council debated the issue most recently at its Nov. 15, 2010 meeting, when the council approved the construction of the bypass channel at Argo, which will eliminate the need for canoeists to portage around the dam.]

Smith also reported that near Argo, intake lines for a well that’s used for measuring water levels in the pond – so that the dam gates can regulate that level – had recently become clogged, and had ultimately required hiring a diver to unclog one of them. When the water level in the well is low, the dam gates close in order to raise the level. When the water level in the well is high, the dam gates open to lower the level. If the intake pipes – which are between 1.5-2.0 inches in diameter – become clogged, the water level of the pond cannot be properly regulated.

The city’s first attempt to clear the lines was to use compressed air to blow out the lines. Ultimately a diver had to be hired to dive into the water, Smith said, to clear one of the lines. Work on the other line, which is a backup, will wait until warmer weather. All the dams have such regulators, he said, and they do become clogged from time to time. Clearing out the lines is a routine event, though he allowed that hiring a diver in the middle of winter made it “non-routine routine.”

Park Concessions RFP

Jeff Straw, deputy manager of parks and recreation, briefed commissioners on a draft of a request for proposals (RFP) he’s working on for concessions in the city’s park’s facilities. In light of the concerns about public-private partnerships that had been expressed earlier in the meeting, Smith playfully asked commissioners to “be kind” to Straw.

By way of backround, Straw told the commission that a few years ago the city had discontinued most of the concessions in the parks. They’d instead provided vending machines. That had allowed staff to focus on programs and services. Concessions weren’t completely eliminated, he explained, giving the golf courses, canoe liveries and Veteran’s Memorial Park ice rink (but not the pool) as examples.

The staff has heard feedback from park users that it would be nice to have concessions available. So the RFP would be to provide concessions. Straw said that except for the Veterans Memorial Park pool, the locations where the city is soliciting concessions proposals have dedicated space and facilities for concessions – it would be a win-win, he said. There would be no expense to the city. He hopes to be able to issue the RFP in the spring, and if there are responses that are agreeable, the city might be able to implement concessions operated by a private vendor starting with the new fiscal year, which is July 1, 2011, if not sooner.

Straw emphasized that the idea is not to commercialize the parks – it’s to provide a service that park users want. For a swimmer who wants to spend the afternoon at the pool, to get food they’d have to leave and come back. The RFP would include Buhr Park ice rink and pool, Veterans Memorial Park ice rink and pool, Fuller Park pool and athletic fields, and the Southeast Area Park.

They would entertain proposals involving “mobile carts,” too, he said. [In subsequent commissioner deliberations, they clarified that this did not mean that a vendor would be wandering up to park users soliciting purchases, but rather it means something akin to a food cart on the street – it'd be hauled to a location, and then at the end of the day would be put away.]

The city is not looking to discontinue the vending machines, because concessions might not be staffed for the entire time a facility is open, Straw explained. The RFP will include an expectation that some kind of sponsorship donation be made for exclusive use of the facilities and that donation would be put towards the city parks scholarship program.

Sam Offen said he thought issuing the RFP for concessions is a great idea. In response to a question from Offen, Smith said that he thought the city stopped selling concessions at its parks sometime around 2003 or 2004. He said when it was done by the city, it simply wasn’t done very well.

Offen wanted to know if someone responding to the RFP had to bid on all the locations – yes, said Straw. But if they don’t have success with that approach, they might have to try something else. Offen was also curious to know what the financial arrangement with a vendor would be like. Straw said that under the RFP, the vendors would make some kind of proposal – a percentage of gross, percentage of net, flat rental or sponsorship.

In response to another question from Offen, Straw said that the RFP does not provide any preference for Ann Arbor businesses right now.

Gwen Nystuen called offering concessions a good idea – it’s a nice thing that people enjoy, she said. She wouldn’t want to limit it just to vendors who would handle all locations. She said she liked the idea of a local business handling it.

Christopher Taylor, one of two city council ex-officio representatives to PAC, kidded Straw about what he meant by “no expense to the city.” Straw allowed that there would be some cost of utilities like gas, electricity and water. But there would be no inventory, supplies or staff costs, he said. Taylor confirmed further with Straw that utilities could not be charged to vendors because they’re not separately metered. There would be some amount of oversight and compliance, but basically whatever revenue the city realized would be “all margin.”

Tim Doyle wanted to know if the impact of clean-up costs had been factored into projections. He figured there would be some additional cost to cleaning up after park users who used the concessions. He said his first thought was to require that soda only be sold in cans with a deposit to ensure that someone had an incentive to go around and pick them up – but it had quickly occurred to him that there were many other kinds of trash that the strategy would not cover. He suggested that the RFP include a provision that any contract awarded to a vendor have a clause requiring a “re-look” after a certain period of time.

John Lawter suggested that recycling be thought about in connection with the clean-up issue. Doug Chapman drew out from Straw the fact that vendors would need to pass a health code inspection.

Doyle suggested that vendors would need to be sensitive to price – people might be turned off if costs were prohibitive. They’d hear complaints if a vendor were charging $7.50 for a hot dog, he said. Straw assured Doyle that the city wanted to make sure there are affordable options. Straw also said that they wanted to make sure there are healthy options, as well.

Julie Grand expressed some concern about the idea of mobile concessions, saying that it’s a challenge as a parent when options are presented in a manner where they are “in your face.” Straw clarified that once the concession is set up on a given day, it would not move around.

Straw concluded by saying he thought the RFP would be issued sometime in the month of March.

Fuller Road Station

During the slot for commissioner-proposed business, Gwen Nystuen expressed concern about how Fuller Road Station would be moving ahead. She reviewed many of the issues associated with the project, chief among them, the fact that the location – which is currently a 250-space surface parking lot – is city parkland. The city-university project would include around 1,000 total parking spaces as well as bus bays in its first phase and is later expected to include a train station.

Gwen Nystuen, Ann Arbor park advisory commissioner

Despite what the name plate says, this is park advisory commissioner Gwen Nystuen.

A point of  agreement among commissioners was the importance of the resolution that they’d passed at their June 15, 2010 meeting about the Fuller Road Station project. [Chronicle coverage: "Park Commission Asks for Transparency"]

Colin Smith told commissioners that currently the city attorney’s office is still working on the Fuller Road Station operating agreement between the city and the University of Michigan. He said he did not think, as Mike Anglin suggested, that it was on the agenda for the city council’s second meeting in March.

Commissioners made clear they want to make sure they have a chance to review the operating agreement before the city council votes on it. David Barrett drew an analogy to pouring cement on a deal – it shouldn’t begin to harden before PAC can have an impact on it.

Nancy Kaplan returned to the podium at the conclusion of the meeting during the second opportunity for public comment, and said she’d attended all the public meetings on the Fuller Road Station, and that the public who’d attended had almost universally objected to the station. She told commissioners that a group of UM graduate students is also opposed to building the station.

Present: David Barrett, Doug Chapman, Tim Berla, Tim Doyle, Julie Grand, Karen Levin, Sam Offen, Gwen Nystuen, John Lawter, councilmember Mike Anglin (ex-officio) , councilmember Christopher Taylor (ex-officio). Also Colin Smith, city parks manager.

Next meeting: PAC’s meeting on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 begins at 4 p.m. in the Washtenaw County administration building boardroom, 220 N. Main St. [confirm date]

One Comment

  1. By Alan Goldsmith
    February 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm | permalink

    “The intent of the project, Hupy said, was of course to improve the drainage, not make it worse.”

    So how much is THIS fiasco going to cost to fix?