Comments on: Ann Arbor Greenbelt Group Marks Transition it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Thu, 27 Jun 2013 21:25:26 +0000 We have been so fortunate in those who have served on GAC. In addition to their long string of achievements, their thoughtful and careful administration of this program is remarkable (as is Ginny Trocchio’s).

It is sad to see Tom Bloomer leave GAC but he has certainly put in his time. Not everyone may realize that he was a pioneer of the agricultural land preservation movement. He was (I think) the author of one of the first county studies on this subject, published in perhaps the late 1980s. (I don’t have the reference.)

There was a time, when I served on the county’s Agricultural Lands and Open Space Task Force, that we appeared poised to build subdivisions on all our high-quality farmland. We were under severe development pressure in the late 1990s and the economics were confounding. Our effort to pass a countywide millage failed in 1998 (partly because of overloading with other issues). There are still heroes from those days, including Barry Lonik and Tom Bloomer, who are now able to enjoy success from their long years of work. This is serving as a foundation for our food security, as local food production has been enabled by our treasure of farmland. And in a feedback effect, the more local food bought by us as consumers, the more land will be used productively.

How nice it is to look back on history that turned out better than I and others feared.

By: Susan Lackey Susan Lackey Thu, 27 Jun 2013 19:39:23 +0000 First, I have to say we all owe a vote of thanks to Dan and the folks who made the Greenbelt such a success. It’s easy to give staff cudos, but without the dedicated volunteers that make this work, we’d look pretty inept.

Second, I’d like to clarify Dan’s comment on Legacy’s involvement in the Gordon Hall issue. We haven’t sought a legal opinion on this issue, as we aren’t a party to the easements in question. We have expressed concern to the townships that everyone who holds a conservation easement needs to be conscious of the enforcement responsibility that comes with it, and find resolutions that ensure that permanent land protection is just that — permanent.

By: Dan Ezekiel Dan Ezekiel Sun, 09 Jun 2013 20:36:07 +0000 Just a really thorough and fine report, as always, Mary.

I enjoyed my time on the Greenbelt Commission greatly. It’s fascinating to me how uncontroversial our work was; I had real trepidation about serving on GAC, because I have a demanding day job and didn’t want to be in the center of controversy. My father and my brother-in-law, both of whom had held leadership positions, convinced me to get over it.

The Ann Arbor Greenbelt already exists, and GAC’s job is to quietly and methodically go about preserving the best parts of it. Nothing changes when we complete a project, just another farm continuing to remain viable, or an open space being officially preserved as a park. As the housing market heats and pressure to build on green fields returns, Ann Arborites will get a chance to notice what an excellent Greenbelt their tax money built.

I’m especially proud of the way we started the Greenbelt with transparency and integrity, the fine partnerships we formed with other localities and land preservation groups, the frugal way we leveraged the taxpayers’ hard-earned money, and the fine farm families we partnered with.

Each easement is different, and there is always some peculiar twist. Ginny Trocchio is a trusted professional who helped us get through even the most convoluted negotiations. She works methodically and with a singular lack of egotism, but she could be flexible, creative, and dogged when needed. Tom Freeman, Barry Lonik, Susan Lackey, and Jack Smiley,and Peg Kohring are other local land preservation professionals. They are all heroes in my book.

Wow, I didn’t mean to write a speech when I started this comment, but I guess I left a few things unsaid at my last GAC meeting. Thanks again for your superb reporting, Mary.