Comments on: Prices to Get Tweaked as Parking Deck Opens it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: John Floyd John Floyd Thu, 10 May 2012 05:48:30 +0000 It doesn’t seem often that I agree with Marvin Face, but I think he’s on to something here: A new library as the building on top of the parking lot, and the cleared off corner site for the park. With its proximity to existing residences in Germantown, location on a pedestrian connector between campus & downtown, and two-sided visibility, and greater usable footprint, this is a much better site for the downtown park. I gather that there are deed restrictions on the current library location, to the effect that that site must be used for a library, or it reverts to the Ann Arbor Public Schools, but it seems like there must be some way to cut a deal on such an idea.

Among the reasons that The Diag is not a downtown public park/greenspace are such diverse elements as:

1) It’s not downtown
2) As noted, the UM can and does control who may use the diag. My understanding is that as many as 3,000 people are banned from UM property, including the diag. I know kids who were banned from the diag after being caught skateboarding. This is not a public space in any sense of the word. It is a private space that tolerates a large amount of trespass.
3) Being dominated by a narrow demographic – as befits the central quadrangle of a large state university – it is not necessarily all that welcoming a space for those outside the dominant demographic, except as a passage way to South U.

I have not personally met a serious person who thought that West Park was in the downtown.

Last time I was in downtown Detroit, the “many high rise buildings” that surround Campus Martius looked like they were occupied by maybe 3,000-5,000 people. Even if as many as 7,000 office workers surround this downtown park, I’m not sure that the fraction of those who eat sack lunches in the Campus between 12 and 1 on non-rainy days in the good weather months are having much effect on anything in the park.

Strikes me that the 20-somethings who are to live in the high rises beloved by the current political class are in the most transient, self-possessed phase of their lives. This is to be expected of people struggling to establish careers and snag mates. They relocate as job opportunities indicate, and are much less community and “other” minded than they will be in the Spouse, Rugrats, and Mortgage decades of their lives. It’s not obvious that this demographic is a good bet to play the role of Eyes and Ears.

A point overlooked by the Density crowd regarding the modern hunter/gatherer/scavenger types who are prone to panhandling, begging, and hanging out in public spaces, is that density ATTRACTS them. Density attracts scavengers for the same reason that banks attracted John Dillinger: that’s where the money is. The most densely occupied parts of town – Main Street, Liberty Street, State Street, the Diag – are precisely where the scavengers are. A “24-hour” downtown will have 24 hour scavenging, because eyes and ears are often accompanied by wallets and purses. If they aren’t in a park, scavengers will be on a sidewalk or in an alley. They will not go away when opportunities to scavenge increase, any more than planting more hostas will drive the deer from Vivienne’s yard. Density won’t “fix” junkies at the library – it will bring them on.

By: Alan Goldsmith Alan Goldsmith Tue, 08 May 2012 17:03:43 +0000 “Correct me if my math is wrong but I think that if you have a number and you reduce that number by 9 and then you increase it by 10, you have a “net increase”of 1, not 10. If you planned to decease the number by 9 but instead increase it by 1, it is still an increase of only one.”

Jack, you don’t get it. If there is a decrease of 1,000 and now we plan to stop the decrease and add one employee, it’s an INCREASE of 1,001. Heiftje Math.

And Leah, since you are so concerned about money, how about pushing a requirement that SPARK opens their books to the public, since you and others are fine with shoveling dollars to those folks with zero oversight?

By: Jim Rees Jim Rees Tue, 08 May 2012 16:35:58 +0000 How about we get rid of the Federal Building and put the park there? The Federal Building is so old it must be close to falling down anyway.

By: Rod Johnson Rod Johnson Tue, 08 May 2012 16:31:38 +0000 How about if we put the park there but get rid of the Federal Building?

By: Marvin Face Marvin Face Tue, 08 May 2012 15:14:28 +0000 I understand why everyone wants a park downtown. In concept, I think having a well programmed, staffed, and maintained park downtown (like Campus Martius or Post Office Park, etc) would be outstanding. Unfortunately, this piece of land is not the place for it. Everyone wants it so bad they are willing to overlook the physical realities that make it a poor site for a park.

It is not central. While it is “in the middle”, it is not where people are. There need to be eyes on it and there is only one street frontage. It’s mid-block on a arterial one-way street so that the only people who will use it are the ones who are intent on finding it. There will be no stumbling upon it. It’s just a bad space for a park. Everyone likes it, I think, because it so tantilizingly close to reality. (Hey! We own it and are looking to DO something with it!). Regrettably,this place won’t work for a park.

Now, put a new library on top of the underground parking and put the park on the current library spot so it fronts William and find a lively, high density use for the old Y site, and you might have something.

By: Jim Rees Jim Rees Tue, 08 May 2012 01:42:58 +0000 Not to be too pessimistic, but one thing we should watch out for. The City could decide to give us our park, but design it in such a way that it’s guaranteed to fail. That’s easy to do in an urban setting. Even Copley Square in Boston, in the center of one of the highest pedestrian concentrations in the country, was initially a failure because it was cut off from the surrounding neighborhood. After the park fails, the City could then push through a conference center or whatever they like.

The City loves to hire consultants, maybe they could get someone who knows what they’re doing to design the park.

And here’s a wild and crazy idea. Instead of putting the skate park on the edge of town where anyone without a car (90% of skaters) can’t get to it, why not put it right downtown?

By: Rod Johnson Rod Johnson Mon, 07 May 2012 23:22:57 +0000 Re 19: mapannarbor indicates that to be correct.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Mon, 07 May 2012 19:18:54 +0000 Re (15) It has always been my understanding that the other bits and pieces of that block are owned by Bill Martin, though I don’t have any documentary information. If I am correct, his assent and help would be important.

Re “eyes on the street” I’d like to point out that the Denali condos overlook the area, and some (not me) have proposed that businesses like Jerusalem Garden, Earthen Jar and others could “open up” to the back, providing activity on the edges.

By: Rita MItchell Rita MItchell Mon, 07 May 2012 19:18:30 +0000 The 2011 PROS Plan showed stats on park land per 1000 people. The Central Area, where the city is trying to encourage more dense residential living, is not well served in comparison to the other parks planning areas.

The PROS Plan indicates that there are 3.7 acres of city-owned park land per 1000 people in the Central area. Even if one includes the open space of school yards and University property, the calculation results in 4.8 acres per thousand. The Central Area includes West Park, Fuller Park, and Wheeler Park, each a significant walk from the center of downtown, in addition to the tiny hardscapes of Sculpture Plaza and Liberty Plaza.

Compare that open space area to city owned land per 1000 residents for
Northeast: 28.4 acres
South: 12.6 acres
West: 27.2 acres

Including more open space, even the small amount described on top of the library parking structure, in the downtown will contribute to the value of existing built-spaces, and will benefit the community. The citizens are not asking for much, and the idea is well worth testing.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Mon, 07 May 2012 18:47:54 +0000 Re: What’s the pollution?

Very briefly the state’s “brownfield” program, now the Community Revitalization Program, includes “blight” and “functional obsolescence” as eligibility criteria.