July 15, 2013 Ann Arbor Council: Final

Last meeting before Aug. 6 city council primary elections features themes of concrete and water; also, council rules and South State corridor plan

After its Monday, July 15, 2013 session, the Ann Arbor city council will depart from the more familiar rhythm of meeting every two weeks – by pausing 24 days before its next meeting on Aug. 8.

Door to Ann Arbor city council chambers

Door to the Ann Arbor city council chamber.

The longer-than-usual break stems from the regular meeting schedule, which actually calls for a meeting on the first and third Monday of the month, not every two weeks. The traditional shift from Monday to Thursday to accommodate the Tuesday, Aug. 6 Democratic primary will add three more days to the break.

Two councilmembers have primary challenges this year – incumbent Stephen Kunselman is competing with Julie Grand for the Democratic nomination in Ward 3; and incumbent Marcia Higgins is competing with Jack Eaton for the Ward 4 nomination.

At its last meeting before the Aug. 6 election, the council’s agenda is relatively full. Dominant themes cutting across several agenda items are concrete and water.

In the category of concrete, the council will be asked to approve $15,000 for the design of a section of sidewalk along Barton Drive. The council approved similar design budgets for a sidewalk on Newport Road at its Jan. 22, 2013 meeting and for a sidewalk on Scio Church Road on Nov. 19, 2012. The interest in having sidewalks was supported by petitions submitted by adjoining property owners.

The council will also be asked to accept some easements and the dedication of right-of-way near the intersection of Platt Road and Washtenaw Avenue – in connection with the Arbor Hills Crossing development, where construction is well underway. A sidewalk is to be built along Platt Road as part of the intersection work.

Sidewalks also appear in connection with an agenda item that would approve a $212,784 engineering services contract with CDM Smith Michigan. The contract covers design for a street reconstruction project in the Springwater subdivision, located southeast of Buhr Park, south of Packard Road. The work is scheduled for FY 2014-16, and includes the construction of new sidewalks.

The council will also be asked to approve a $965,990 contract with MacKenzie Co. for street reconstruction between South University Avenue and Hill Street on Forest Avenue. The scope of the project includes the reconstruction of sidewalk.

Adding to the concrete on the agenda is the $1,031,592 construction contract with Krull Construction to build a concrete skatepark at Veterans Memorial Park. Among the features of the skatepark will be pools and bowls.

Although they won’t be skate-able, bowls show up in another agenda item that asks the council to approve $216,000 for renovations of 13 restrooms in the old city hall building. The bathrooms are 50 years old.

In the category of water, the council will be asked to approve a $33,743 annual contract with the Huron River Watershed Council to assist in compliance with the city’s stormwater permit from the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality. HRWC’s work includes public education efforts, water quality monitoring and reporting assistance.

Stormwater is also on the agenda in the form of a Stone School Road reconstruction project. Of the $4 million project total, $1.2 million of it involves stormwater work on the county drain north of Ellsworth Road between Varsity Drive and Stone School Road. The council will be asked to approve a petition to the office of the county water resources commissioner for a loan under the state’s revolving fund (SRF) program. If approved by the state, the loan repayment would come from the city’s stormwater fund.

A loan that’s already been secured through the SRF will pay for another item on the agenda – a $509,125 contract with Margolis Companies Inc. for the purchase and planting of trees, as well as stump removal along city streets. The stormwater fund is used for this work because of the positive impact trees have on stormwater runoff.

Water also shows up in a consent agenda item that asks the council to approve a $43,788 annual contract with the Ecology Center to give tours of the city’s materials recovery facility (MRF). The cost of the contract is split 60%-40% between the solid waste fund and the drinking water fund. The drinking water funding is related to a Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources requirement that the city engage in source water protection educational efforts.

Leftover business from the council’s July 1, 2013 meeting includes changes to the council’s rules and the approval of the State Street corridor plan. Rules changes include reductions in speaking times for public commentary as well as for councilmembers.

Details of other meeting agenda items are available on the city’s Legistar system. Readers can also follow the live meeting proceedings on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network.

The Chronicle will be filing live updates from city council chambers during the meeting, published in this article “below the fold.” The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

6:52 p.m. Pre-meeting activity. The scheduled meeting start is 7 p.m. Most evenings the actual starting time is between 7:10 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. About eight people are in the audience chambers now. No one from the city council has arrived yet.

7:00 p.m. Councilmembers are starting to arrive. Christopher Taylor, Stephen Kunselman, Sabra Briere, Chuck Warpehoski and Sally Petersen are now here.

7:02 p.m. Mike Anglin, John Hieftje, Sumi Kailasapathy and Margie Teall also here.

7:09 p.m. All councilmembers are here. We’re almost ready to start.

7:12 p.m. Pledge of allegiance, moment of silence and the roll call of council. All councilmembers are present and correct.

7:12 p.m. Proclamations. No proclamations are on the agenda tonight.

7:12 p.m. Public commentary. This portion of the meeting offers 10 three-minute slots that can be reserved in advance. Preference is given to speakers who want to address the council on an agenda item. [Public commentary general time, with no sign-up required in advance, is offered at the end of the meeting.] A pending rule change to be considered at tonight’s meeting would limit speaking time to two minutes. Another pending rule change would address “frequent flyers,” by only allowing people to reserve time at the start of the meeting, if they did not speak during reserved time at the previous council meeting. Tonight’s lineup for reserved time speaking is: Blaine Coleman, Thomas Partridge, Lisa Dusseau, Jack Eaton, Lefiest Galimore, Rev. Jeff Harrold. Galimore, Harrold and Coleman will be addressing the council on the topic of the Trayvon Martin verdict. Ward 4 council candidate Jack Eaton is here to talk about the council rules changes.

7:16 p.m. Blaine Coleman tells the council they should make as much noise about the Trayvon Martin verdict as they did about the killing of white children in Newton, Mass. He tells councilmembers he expects strong statements from them about what happened to Martin, which he characterizes as “legalized lynching.” He is speaking to the “slavemaster mindset,” which says that black life is worth nothing. Councilmembers need to rid themselves of that mindset, he says. That’s a mindset that says it’s okay to hunt and kill black people. He expects the council to say that black life is worth something, and express its revulsion at the Trayvon Martin verdict.

7:19 p.m. Thomas Partridge calls for a new attitude and a new mayor of the city. He wants a council that will work to place items on every agenda that will expand human rights and expand public participation at meetings. He calls for increased affordable housing and transportation. For too long, the mayor and council have neglected and abused Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens, he says. Money is allocated that highlights historic discrimination, he contends, and it’s time to end that.

7:23 p.m. Lisa Dusseau speaks in support of domestic partnerships. She said her life partner is an Ann Arbor firefighter. They share everything a married couple would – except for health insurance. Her asthma medication isn’t covered under her own policy. She calls on the city of Ann Arbor to follow suit with other Ann Arbor institutions, in the light of recent court decisions, to restore domestic partner benefits.

7:25 p.m. Jack Eaton encourages the council to enact the rule change on its agenda that adds public commentary to work sessions. The proposed reduction in speaking times, however, is something he’s not supporting. He tells the council that the reduction in time was a reaction to a few speakers who abuse the opportunity for public commentary. He says democracy requires that they listen to all the voices who want to speak.

7:29 p.m. Lefiest Galimore is joined by seven others at the podium. He weighs in against the so-called “stand your ground” law in Florida. He recites the history of the Pioneer High School football brawl. He calls for the revocation of Michigan’s version of the “stand your ground” law. Rev. Jeff Harrold says it’s all too easy to see a young black man as threatening. He encourages the council to go on record against the “stand your ground” law. He calls on the council to support federal civil rights charges to be brought against Zimmerman. He cites the fact that the Ann Arbor Reads selection is The New Jim Crow.

7:29 p.m. Council communications. This is the first of three slots on the agenda for council communications. It’s a time when councilmembers can report out from boards, commissions and task forces on which they serve. They can also alert their colleagues to proposals they might be bringing forward in the near future.

7:31 p.m. Sabra Briere offers a remembrance of Karl Pohrt. She calls him a man with a “beautiful soul.”

7:37 p.m. Mike Anglin offers some anecdotal information on flooding. A taxpayer has replaced all her basement walls. The taxpayer’s damages have been several thousand dollars, and the city’s cost has been $8,000. He wants to put a human face on the tragedy. He says the city needs to do its best to do a better job controlling floods and “disasters of that nature.”

Sumi Kailasapathy addresses the issue of racial discrimination that public speakers raised. She didn’t know what to tell her kids to explain to them why the Trayvon Martin verdict came out the way it did. She says she’ll support a resolution or work with other cities to make sure a situation like Trayvon Martin’s doesn’t occur in Michigan. Chuck Warpehoski also addresses the issues of marriage equality, racial equality and calls them issues dear to his heart. He indicates a willingness to support efforts to address “stand your ground” laws in Michigan. Racism isn’t just a Southern thing, he says.

7:41 p.m. City administrator Steve Powers is calling attention to the street closings that are on the consent agenda. On a more significant issue, he asks police chief John Seto to give an update. The first six months of the year show Part 1 crimes down 10% compared to last year. And overall crime is down 7.5%, he reports. The department is analyzing the initial data collection from the electronic activity logs for officers. The department expects to be staffed up to the full authorized level with the anticipated hire of four officers.

7:41 p.m. Public hearings. For tonight’s meeting there are no public hearings – a relatively rare occurrence.

7:46 p.m. Council communications. More council communications include a report from Jane Lumm that the city administrator will be meeting with the humane society to coordinate how stray animals will be handled. She discloses that she’s a board member for the Humane Society of Huron Valley. Mike Anglin says he wants to add his voice of support for those who wanted to work on human rights issues.

Marcia Higgins reports on meetings between city of Ann Arbor staff and University of Michigan about the possibility of closing Main Street, between Stadium Blvd. and Pauline Blvd., for football games. There will be a public meeting on July 24 at 6 p.m. at the downtown public library. Sabra Briere updates the council on the D1 review and the R4C committee work. Four meetings of the R4C will take place in August and September, she reports.

7:46 p.m. Minutes and consent agenda. This is a group of items that are deemed to be routine and are voted on “all in one go.” Contracts for less than $100,000 can be placed on the consent agenda. Items on the consent agenda tonight include:

  • Street closings for the Electric Bolt 8K Run/Walk on July 28, 2013. It’s a new course this year, looping around Argo Pond, hosted by the Bezonki-award-winning Ann Arbor Active Against ALS.
  • Street closings for the 2013 UA Block Party to include the Plumbers and Pipefitters 5K on Monday, Aug. 12, 2013.
  • $43,788 annual contract with the Ecology Center to give tours of the material recovery facility (MRF). The cost of the contract is split 60-40 between the solid waste fund and the drinking water fund. The drinking water funding is related to a Michigan Department of Natural Resources requirement that the city engage in source water protection educational efforts. The authorization is for the contract to be extended annually for five years with a 3% increase each year.
  • Agreement with Complus Data Innovations Inc. for parking citation collection. The current contract with Complus, which goes through Nov. 14, 2013, gives Complus $2.28 per ticket issued. Under the new agreement the cost will be $1.92 per ticket issued, with no annual increases for the life of the contract including any extensions. The city thinks this will result in a combined savings to the city and the University of Michigan of around $46,800 annually. That works out to about 130,000 parking tickets issued per year. The “convenience fee” is also being changed – from $3.50 per citation to a 3% transaction fee (which could cover multiple citations), with a minimum of $2.95 per citation.
  • Approval of $91,533 for an amended grant contract with the Michigan Dept. of Transportation (MDOT) for a snow removal equipment building at the Ann Arbor municipal airport. The project was completed in 2012. According to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, the project lasted several years and MDOT-Aero forgot to amend the agreement earlier.

7:49 p.m. Councilmembers can opt to select out any items for separate consideration. Warpehoski removes the Plumbers and Pipefitters 5K street closing for separate consideration. He’s concerned about the city’s notification plan for neighbors of the race. On Fifth and Division streets, there are parking lots that have no other access. Community services area administrator Sumedh Bahl gives Warpehoski an assurance.

Lumm has pulled out the MRF tour item to correct the amount of the contract, but she observes that the amount has already been corrected.

7:49 p.m. Outcome: The council voted to approve all the consent agenda items.

7:49 p.m. Pension ordinance for police service specialists and command officers association. The council is being asked to give initial approval to a change to the pension ordinance to incorporate changes negotiated with the police service specialists and command officers association bargaining units.

7:49 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted without discussion to give initial approval to the changes in the pension ordinance.

7:50 p.m. GAC appointment: Jean Cares. This item was postponed from the previous meeting, as is standard practice with a greenbelt advisory commission appointment, which is made by the council, not by the mayor (as most nominations to boards and commissions are). When it appears on the agenda the first time and is postponed, that’s treated as the nomination. The following meeting, the vote is taken as a confirmation – which is what’s happening tonight. Cares is nominated as the agriculture landowner representative on the greenbelt advisory commission. Cares owns the Dexter Mill.

7:51 p.m. Taylor reminds everyone about the designated slots for differently qualified people on GAC.

7:51 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to confirm the appointment of Cares to GAC.

7:51 p.m. 2013 Council rules amendments. For Chronicle coverage on these changes, see “Council Mulls Speaking Rule Changes.” Highlights include adding public commentary to council work sessions, but reducing public speaking time to two-minute turns. A “frequent flyer” rule would prevent people from signing up for reserved time at the start of a meeting two meetings in a row. The total time that each councilmember could speak on an item of debate would be reduced from eight minutes to five minutes. The council postponed a vote from its previous meeting, on July 1, 2013, on these changes due to the absence of Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and Margie Teall (Ward 4) – who were described by council rules committee chair Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) as wanting to take part in the conversation. The council had also postponed the item at its June 17, 2013 meeting.

7:56 p.m. Higgins remarks that the item seems like it’s been on the agenda forever. She summarizes the discussion of the council rules committee and characterizes it as a “lively debate.” She invites discussion from councilmembers on the proposed changes. The changes can be approved as a whole or in pieces, she ventures.

Lumm proposes an amendment. She understands the need to streamline meetings, but says that the recent long public hearings were not typical. She doesn’t support a reduction of public speaking time. Sometimes two minutes might be sufficient, but other times it might not be enough. She’d prefer to err on the side of allowing additional speaking time. Streamlining should be done some other way. So she proposes that the reduction from three minutes to two minutes for public speaking time be eliminated. Warpehoski seconds Lumm’s proposal.

8:09 p.m. Anglin supports Lumm’s proposal. He wants to continue with the three-minute limit. Everyone has their own story, he says. If the council is really looking at how to shorten council meetings, there are other ways to do that, Anglin says. Briere says in a “prior life” she’s addressed the council as a member of the public, and says that three minutes goes by very fast. It’s not about limiting access or limiting the duration of a meeting, she says. The message she’d taken away from an Michigan Municipal League work session was that between minute 2 and minute 3, people tend to repeat themselves. The MML’s recommendation could be disregarded, she said.

Petersen said she didn’t think that the time limit change was meant to be a “cure-all” for making meetings more efficient. It’s one step that might contribute to that, she felt. Her first concern was that the amount of time being allocated to councilmembers and to members of the public was different. The point is to improve the quality of the speaking time, she says, and to make the time as efficient as possible. She supports Lumm’s amendment.

Teall says she could support going back to three minutes for the reserved time, because those speakers have made the effort to sign up ahead of time. And that is limited to just 10 slots. So she supports three minutes for public speaking reserved time.

Higgins ventures that the council should not try to amend amendments, as Teall is suggesting. Higgins wants each proposed amendment to be considered in turn. She asks Lumm to take her amendment off the table and to consider each of the kinds of public commentary separately – reserved time, general time, and public hearings. Lumm doesn’t want to do that.

Hieftje forges ahead with Teall’s amendment to the amendment, but it dies for lack of a second. We’re back to Lumm’s amendment – to keep all public speaking time at three minutes. Kunselman ventures that the council could spend another hour on the topic. He supports going back to the original three-minute time period. Democracy is about giving people a chance to speak, he says. It’s important to continue Ann Arbor’s tradition.

Taylor says that the purpose of reducing the meeting time has been disclaimed, so he’s speaking to that. He rejects the idea that reducing the speaking time limits access and participation, but rather encourages broader participation. He also points out that there are many points of contact between the public and the council besides the public commentary portions of meetings. He relates how he’s heard from people who have despaired of ever trying to address the council because they have to wait through other speakers.

Outcome on Lumm’s amendment: The vote is 10-1, with dissent from Teall.

8:21 p.m. Kailasapathy is now addressing the “frequent flyer” portion of the rule. Briere suggests that the council just go through each rule change and vote them up and down. Briere talks about people who are very savvy and who are on the phone early in the morning to sign up for reserved time. People who want to address the council on an agenda item don’t have a chance, she said. But the council also needs to hear from people who want to speak on non-agenda items. She calls the proposed rule change – the “frequent flyer” provision – a compromise.

From the audience, Thomas Partridge says that only six people signed up for reserved time tonight. Hieftje rules him out of order. Hieftje says that he wants some mechanism to ensure that if someone wants to address the council, they’re not prevented from speaking by those who speak frequently.

Warpehoski proposes to amend the rule so that reserved time is assigned on a preferential basis to those who did not address the council at the previous meeting – instead of making it a strict prohibition against someone reserving time two meetings in a row. Kunselman wonders how this would work logistically.

Higgins asks that the changes just be rejected, instead of trying to amend the rules. Hieftje ventures that there’s no rush to do this. He suggests postponing again after the council goes through all the rules changes.

8:30 p.m. Warpehoski encourages the rules committee to consider changing the admonishment that council debate not include “personality” to saying that it shouldn’t include “personal attacks.” He suggests that emails sent to all councilmembers (draft language for amendments, for example) be made available to the public. He also notes that sometimes when councilmembers question staff – which isn’t counted as speaking time – often it includes editorial comments. How is that handled?

Higgins reports how the rules committee had discussed the issue of councilmember speaking time. Higgins talks about the possibility of rotating the job of timekeeper among councilmembers. She invites councilmembers to send suggestions to the rules committee. Lumm says that time limits for councilmembers is appropriate. Five minutes seems too long for the first time, so the reduction from five minutes to three minutes seems reasonable. But the second speaking time should stay at three minutes, she says. Hieftje says that the length of the meetings changes as the issues change. Hieftje invites someone to move for postponement.

8:40 p.m. Anglin ventures that the agenda itself needs to be shortened. He also wants the public to be notified if it’s known that an item will be postponed by the council. Briere counters that the council can’t act on the assumption that an item will be postponed. One should not presuppose an action by the council, she says.

The discussion has wandered to the idea of managing the number of proclamations. Kailasapathy says that many people, like her, have children and full-time jobs, so meetings that go to 1 a.m. are a hardship. It’s more humane to have two four-hour sessions, she ventures. She says that meeting length shouldn’t be a barrier to service on the council for people with young children and full-time jobs.

Petersen ventures that the agenda itself should be examined – noting that tonight’s agenda includes 16 items introduced by staff members. Higgins mentions the rule about communications via mobile devices at the table. She says that if councilmembers need to communicate, then they can just step away from the table to do that.

Teall asks about the rule limiting the clerk’s report on the agenda to only certain items. Briere explains there have been times when councilmembers have received correspondence and councilmembers have asked that the correspondence be added to the electronic agenda item.

8:40 p.m. Some young men who were here for the skatepark item have given up and departed the meeting.

8:42 p.m. Higgins suggests that the item be postponed until the first meeting in September, which is Sept. 3. Hieftje suggests the second meeting in September. Briere wants to have the rules in place for the work session in September. So the proposal is to postpone until Sept. 3.

8:42 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to postpone the amendments to the council rules until Sept. 3.

8:43 p.m. The council is now in recess.

9:00 p.m. The council has returned from recess.

9:00 p.m. Right of way agreement with University of Michigan. This resolution stems from an item that appeared on the council’s May 13, 2013 meeting agenda. It involves a right-of-way occupancy for the University of Michigan to install conduits in Tappan Street. The purpose of the conduits under Tappan Street is to connect a new emergency generator to the Lawyers Club buildings at 551 S. State Street. The Lawyers Club and the generator are located on opposite sides of the street. The university considers the transaction to be a conveyance of an interest in land. The city doesn’t see it that way. But UM insists that the council approve the resolution as if it were a conveyance of an interest in land, which requires an eight-vote majority. On May 13, the council only had seven votes in favor. Tonight’s resolution directs the staff to renegotiate the agreement.

9:15 p.m. Lumm introduces the resolution. Higgins wants the process to be one in the future that could be approved at the staff level with a standard licensing agreement, as other entities do. Another possibility is to use easements, she says. She wants UM to use the tools that are already in place.

Petersen asks what has happened since May 13? What’s the change? Higgins reiterates that there’s a standard licensing tool for this purpose. Taylor says that the smooth operation between the city and the university is important. He encourages staff to move swiftly and surely, without prejudicing the city.

Anglin thanks those who brought the resolution forward – and is glad that the city is not granting the transfer of any property. Hieftje says the university has work pending, and wonders if the council’s action or non-action would have an impact. Assistant city attorney Abigail Elias says that the resolution tonight would not preclude the Tappan Street agreement from coming back to the council.

Petersen wants to know how long the renegotiation will take. She’d heard the original negotiation had taken three years. Elias expresses optimism, but allows that it takes two parties to reach an agreement. Higgins says that as long as the agreement doesn’t include a conveyance of land, it doesn’t need to ever come to the council. Lumm agrees with Higgins – that it’s about streamlining the process.

City attorney Stephen Postema says that if the university comes back with an agreement that requires eight votes, then it could be a longer negotiation than Elias had described. Taylor clarifies that things that need to be done for the Tappan Street project can be done currently. Elias says that there’d need to be a license agreement. It’s up to UM to ask for what it needs to move forward.

Petersen asks what UM’s objection is to a licensing agreement. Elias says that UM felt it needed an interest in the land but the city felt that the conduit serves a structure, not the land. She characterized the proposal the council had rejected as an agreement to disagree. Anglin asks why this issue has even arisen. He calls the previous resolution “gibberish” that no one can understand.

9:15 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to direct renegotiation of the right-of-way agreement with UM.

9:16 p.m. Nomination to greenbelt advisory commission: John Ramsburgh. John Ramsburgh’s name is being put forward to serve on the greenbelt advisory commission to replace Dan Ezekiel. This was announced by Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) at the last meeting of GAC on July 11, 2013. Taylor serves as the city council representative to GAC. Taylor explains how GAC’s term limits work and requests a postponement.

9:16 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to postpone the vote on Ramsburgh’s nomination to GAC, as is customary. The item’s first appearance on the agenda serves as the “nomination” and the subsequent vote is the confirmation.

9:16 p.m. South State Street corridor plan. This resolution would adopt the South State Street corridor plan into the city’s master plan. The city planning commission voted unanimously to adopt it at its May 21, 2013 meeting. At the council’s previous meeting, on July 1, 2013, councilmembers had voted to postpone the question, in deference to Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), who wanted more time to evaluate it.

More commonly when the planning commission votes on a matter, it’s to recommend action by the city council. For master plans, however, the planning commission is on equal footing with the council: both groups must adopt the same plan. Among the recommendations are: (1) Evaluate use of vacant parcels for alternative energy generation; (2) Evaluate integrating public art along the corridor; (3) Evaluate use of open land for community gardens; (4) Assess and improve high crash areas along the corridor; (5) create boulevard on State Street between Eisenhower and I‐94 to enable safer automobile, bicycle, and pedestrian movement; (6) Consider utilizing vacant parcels for athletic fields and recreation facilities; (7) Develop a pedestrian and bicycle path along the Ann Arbor railroad that will connect the planned Allen Creek bikeway to Pittsfield Township through the corridor; and (8) Resurface roads in the corridor.

9:17 p.m. Higgins thanks her colleagues for the postponement at the last meeting so that she could look at the item a bit more closely.

9:17 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to adopt the South State Street corridor plan into the city’s master plan.

9:17 p.m. Waive park space rental fee for Liberty Plaza. This item comes on recommendation from the park advisory commission, which voted at its June 18, 2013 meeting to recommend the waiver of fees in Liberty Plaza on a trial basis through next year. The fee waiver comes in response to a situation that arose earlier in the spring, when city staff applied fees to the hosting of Pizza in the Park in Liberty Plaza – a homelessness outreach ministry of a local church. Members of Camp Take Notice, a self-governed homelessness community, have addressed the council at several of its recent meetings on this topic. They’re keen to see a more general written commitment that the city would allow humanitarian efforts to take place on public land generally.

9:20 p.m. Taylor reviews the history of the issue with the Pizza in the Park program in Liberty Plaza. The program was under a perceived cloud, he said. PAC felt that a waiver would be useful for the particular purpose of protecting Pizza in the Park, but also address the general purpose of activating the park. If the one-year trial is successful, it could become permanent. Taylor noted that advocates for Pizza in the Park have solidified how they think humanitarian efforts should be treated – beyond Liberty Plaza. Teall describes how she’s met with several people and they’re exploring the possibility of extending waivers to other parks as well.

9:32 p.m. Briere asks community services area administrator Sumedh Bahl to explain how permit fees are normally waived. Bahl said it’s not the usual practice to waive fees – and says he can’t recall that being done in the past. He allows that the council could direct the staff to waive fees. Briere ventures that during the art fairs, the council could pass a resolution to direct the waiver of the permit fee at other parks. Higgins notes that the art fair are held this week, so she wonders where Pizza in the Park is happening this week. Bahl indicates that it’s being held at West Park, and that no fee is being applied.

Anglin asks how this proposal came about, and Taylor says that staff had heard the tenor of the council’s reaction to the Pizza in the Park advocates who’d addressed the council at previous meetings. He ventures that the proposal – which protects Pizza in the Park, while also helping to activate the park in general – “feeds two birds with one stone.”

Kunselman asks if there’s an events committee through which this request could be handled. Kailasapathy agrees with Kunselman’s suggestion that nonprofits could be included in the fee structure as exempt, instead of waiving the fees by resolution. Briere cautions that “nonprofit” and “humanitarian aid” are not precise terms and would need to be refined.

Lumm reported that she’d met with the advocates of Pizza in the Park, and appreciated that they were trying to get direction from the council. She also worried about opening the door to all nonprofits and encouraged a narrowly-defined solution.

9:32 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the fee waiver in Liberty Plaza on a trial basis through July 1, 2014.

9:32 p.m. FY 2014 allocations to nonprofit entities for human services ($1,244,629). This is the distribution of funds to specific nonprofits that provide human services under contract with the city. The budget allocation for $1,244,629 was already made, at the council’s May 20, 2013 meeting.

A total of 20 programs operated by 16 different organizations are receiving funding from the city of Ann Arbor this year. Half of those organization are receiving more than $90,000: Interfaith Hospitality Network of Washtenaw County ($91,645); Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw ($94,490); Food Gatherers ($95,171); Community Action Network ($104,944); Perry Nursery School of Ann Arbor ($109,851); Avalon Housing Inc. ($142,851); Legal Services of South Central Michigan ($177,052); and the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County ($245,529).

In the coordinated funding approach to human services, a total of $4,369,102 is being allocated by the city and other entities. In addition to the city’s share, here’s a breakdown of other contributions: United Way of Washtenaw County ($1,797,000); Washtenaw County general fund ($1,015,000); Washtenaw Urban County ($288,326); and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation ($24,147).

9:33 p.m. Taylor asks the council to vote to excuse him from voting on the item, because one of his clients is Planned Parenthood, which is among the groups being funded. They take the necessary vote.

9:36 p.m. Briere notes that this is a three-year agreement and the amount this year is the same as it was the previous two years. Hieftje recites how much each of the other entities are contributing. Lumm thanks Mary Jo Callan and Andrea Plevek, the staff who are responsible for this. She recites the history of the program. Human services continue to exceed the available funding, she says.

9:36 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the human services funding distributions for FY 2014.

9:36 p.m. Krull contract for skatepark at Veterans Memorial Park ($1,031,592). The park advisory commission voted at its June 8, 2013 meeting to recommend award of the contract. The originally approved budget for the project, to be located at the northwest corner of Veterans Memorial Park, was $800,000 – though the expectation was that the project would cost about $1 million.

Ann Arbor skatepark, Wally Hollyday, Ann Arbor park advisory commission, Veterans Memorial Park, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

This conceptual design by Wally Hollyday for the Ann Arbor skatepark at the northwest corner of Veterans Memorial Park was approved by the city council on Jan. 7, 2013.

The total budget now – including the construction contract, 10% contingency and $89,560 design contract – is $1,224,311, or $424,311 higher than the originally budgeted $800,000. Funds to pay for the skatepark include a $400,000 grant from the Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission, $300,000 from the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources Trust Fund, and $100,00 raised by the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark, which paid for the skatepark’s design. The city identified funds from a variety of sources to make up the gap.

9:41 p.m. Kunselman says it’s been a long time coming. He recalls helping the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark back in 2007-08, giving them a voice at the council table. Everyone had come together to make it possible. He compares the vote to standing at the rim of a pool looking down getting ready to skate: “Just go for it.”

Petersen praises the effort but expresses concern about the amount of an additional appropriation being made from city funds. She allows that the Friends of Ann Arbor Skatepark are going to continue to do fundraising. She wonders if it’s possible to delay the vote for a couple of months while private funding is pursued.

City administrator Steve Powers asks Sumedh Bahl to comment on the issue. The project needs to be completed by August 2014 under terms of the MDNR trust fund grant. Under the current schedule, a June 30 estimated completion date is foreseen. There’s some “float,” Bahl says, but essentially it needs to go ahead on the current schedule.

9:50 p.m. Taylor explains that staff worked closely with the construction company, with PAC, and with the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark. Staff were mindful that additional money was being requested. Nevertheless, they were excited about moving forward, even with that additional cost. The effort had been long and earnest and had the support of many governmental partners. The bid came in higher than was anticipated, Taylor says, but it was determined that this was simply how much it would cost. He allowed that it was more money than had been anticipated. It would be a good thing for kids and adults who skate, Taylor concludes.

Bahl notes that Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark have recently received a $50,000 grant from the Knight Foundation. Lumm allows that the amount that the budget was off “could have been worse.” She notes that the specs had been reduced and that Krull had agreed to reduce the prices by $10,000. She noted that the fund balance for the parks maintenance and capital improvements is healthy. She calls the parks system one of the reasons the quality of life in Ann Arbor is so strong. Adding the new facility, even at the city’s cost, is worth doing, and she’ll support it.

Anglin recalls how the entire council chambers had been filled with supporters. He calls Trevor Staples to the podium. Hieftje establishes that no one on the council objects to Staples coming forward to speak. Staples quips that he himself might object. He notes that about $900,000 is being brought to the city’s park system by the project. So he encouraged councilmembers to think about what could be lost if it doesn’t pass.

9:53 p.m. Petersen asks about the operating agreement: How will security be provided at the skatepark? Hieftje ventures that no additional security is provided for basketball courts. Petersen said that she didn’t see any “eyes on the park” – that has been a concern cited in regard to downtown parks that have been proposed. Hieftje contrasts urban area parks with the future location of the skatepark. Hieftje hopes it will pass tonight. He recalls the kind of fund raising efforts that the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark have made. The enthusiasm they’ve generated has been inspiriational, he says. The city’s contribution is not coming from human services money, he adds.

9:54 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to award the construction contract for the skatepark. Kunselman briefly leaves the table to give Staples a hug.

9:54 p.m. Larcom building (city hall) restrooms renovation ($216,000). The council is being asked to move $216,000 from the general fund to the fleet and facilities fund, to cover a $188,484 contract with Howell Construction Services, plus a $27,516 contingency. The work would renovate 13 restrooms in the old city hall building, which are 50 years old.

9:56 p.m. Lumm notes that the money had originally been in the facilities budget and had reverted to the general fund balance at the end of the fiscal year. So the council was simply restoring the money to the facilities fund.

9:56 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the contract with Howell Construction for the Larcom building restroom renovations.

9:56 p.m. Huron River Watershed Council contract ($33,743 annually for six years for a total of $202,463). The council is being asked to authorize a contract with HRWC to be funded out of the stormwater operating and maintenance budget – to comply with the requirements of an MS4 stormwater discharge permit that it has through the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality. An MS4 system (short for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) is “a system of drainage (including roads, storm drains, pipes, and ditches, etc.) that is not a combined sewer or part of a sewage treatment plant.” The goal of the MS4 program is to reduce pollution of Michigan’s surface waters. HRWC’s activities are described in the staff memo accompanying the agenda items as: “public education efforts; water quality monitoring; reporting assistance; watershed group facilitation; and, technical assistance.”

9:56 p.m. This item comes in the context of an incident on June 27, when heavy rains briefly overwhelmed the city’s sanitary sewage system and resulted in 10,000 gallons of untreated sewage flowing into the Huron River. The city has separate sanitary and stormwater sewer systems, but the sanitary system receives stormwater flow from cracks in the system as well as footing drains that were connected to the sanitary system as part of standard construction techniques in the 1970s. Incidents like the one on June 27 led to the creation of the city’s footing drain disconnection program in the early 2000s. From the city’s press release on the incident three weeks ago:

On Thursday, June 27, 2013, the Ann Arbor area was deluged with intense rainfall that caused flooding conditions and significantly increased the flow of wastewater to the City of Ann Arbor Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) over a short period of time. Plant flows more than tripled within a half hour. As a result of this unprecedented increase in plant flow, approximately 10,000 gallons of untreated wastewater was discharged to the Huron River from 5:20 to 5:30 p.m. By comparison, the WWTP fully treated approximately 350,000 gallons of wastewater during the 10minute period over which this incident occurred.

9:56 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the contract with the Huron River Watershed Council.

9:57 p.m. Stone School Road and Malletts Creek stormwater improvements ($1.2 million loan application). The council is being asked to approve a petition to the Washtenaw County water resources commissioner’s office to apply for a state revolving fund loan for $1.2 million worth of stormwater improvements as part of a $4 million road improvement project. The stormwater improvements will include work “to clean out, relocate, widen, deepen, straighten, extend, tile, interconnect, or otherwise improve a portion of the county drain located north of Ellsworth Road between Varsity Drive and Stone School Road, known as the Malletts Creek Drain.” The loan would be repaid in annual installments of up to $76,307 from the city’s stormwater fund. Up to 50% of the loan could be forgiven as a “green” project.

9:57 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the petition to the water resources commissioner’s office for the Stone School Road Mallets Creek project.

9:57 p.m. Purchase, planting of trees, and stump removal along city streets, contract with Margolis Companies Inc. ($509,125). The council is being asked to approve a two-year $509,125 contract with Margolis Companies Inc. to plant 750 trees in FY 2014 and 1,000 trees in FY 2015. The work would be paid for from the city’s stormwater fund and reimbursed with a state revolving fund (SRF) loan that has been obtained through the county water resources commissioner’s office.

9:57 p.m. Warpehoski reviews the environmental benefits to tree planting.

9:57 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the tree-planting contract with Margolis Companies Inc.

9:58 p.m. Barton Drive sidewalk design ($15,000). The council is being asked to appropriate $15,000 from the city’s general fund to pay for the design of a 400-foot new concrete sidewalk on the south side of Barton Road from a spot west of Chandler Road to Longshore Drive. The council approved similar design budgets for a sidewalk on Newport Road at its Jan. 22, 2013 meeting and for a sidewalk on Scio Church Road at its Nov. 19, 2012 meeting. The interest in having sidewalks was supported by petitions submitted by adjoining property owners.

Location of proposed Barton Drive sidewalk.

Location of proposed Barton Drive sidewalk.

10:01 p.m. Briere notes that people who are attempting to push strollers to Bandemer Park have complained for years about the lack of a sidewalk. The design budget doesn’t guarantee construction will take place, she allows, but it’s a good step. There was a meeting between staff and neighbors and the response was overwhelmingly positive, she says. Kailasapathy confirms the nature of the neighborhood meeting. She highlights the importance of non-motorized transportation.

10:01 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the design budget for the proposed Barton Drive sidewalk.

10:02 p.m. Engineering services for Springwater subdivision with CDM Smith Michigan Inc. ($212,784). The council is being asked to approve the engineering consultant work for improvements in the Springwater subdivision – located southeast of Buhr Park, south of Packard Road. The work is planned over the course of three years, and would include the north-south streets of Nordman Road and Springbrook Avenue and the east-west streets of Butternut and Redwood. The eventual project, to be completed in 2014-16, would include “a reconstructed roadway section, storm sewer upgrades, storm water quality improvements, water main replacement, replacement of curb and gutter, and the construction of new sidewalk and/or the filling in of sidewalk gaps within the project limits.”

10:02 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted without discussion to approve the contract with CDM Smith Michigan Inc. for the Springwater subdivision street improvements.

10:02 p.m. Forest Ave. construction contract with MacKenzie Co. ($965,990). The council is being asked to approve the construction contract for work on Forest Avenue from South University Ave. to Hill Street. In addition to reconstructing the street, the existing 6-inch water main between Willard Street and Hill Street will be replaced with a 12-inch pipe. The project also includes installation of a stone reservoir under the street to allow for infiltration of stormwater. The total estimated $1,257,000 cost is to be paid for as follows: water fund capital budget ($185,000), street millage fund ($543,937), developer contributions (Zaragon Place and 601 Forest Ave.) to the parks memorials and contribution fund ($78,063), and the stormwater fund ($450,000). The city has obtained a loan through the state revolving fund for the stormwater portion of the project.

10:05 p.m. Briere says there’s some concern about the timing of the project, from August to October. It will accommodate student move-in, she says. She ventures that the city is eventually going to turn the corner on stormwater. Lumm says it’s good that the work is being done, characterizing the stretch as a “moonscape.”

10:05 p.m. Outcome: The council voted to approve the contract with E. T. MacKenzie Co. for the Forest Avenue work.

10:05 p.m. Traffic signal materials: Carrier & Gable Inc. ($475,000) The council is being asked to approve the purchase of materials for the following work: (1) Packard and Stone School pedestrian signal upgrade ($45,000); (2) Packard and Jewett/Eastover pedestrian signal upgrades ($50,000); (3) maintenance operations including wear-out and accident damage, and support of other city projects ($250,000); (4) traffic signal rebuild at Ashley and Liberty ($65,000); (5) traffic signal rebuild at Packard and Pine Valley ($65,000). The materials are being paid for from the street fund.

10:06 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the purchase of traffic signal materials.

10:06 p.m. On-call engineering services: Stantec Consulting Michigan Inc. and Hubbell, Roth & Clark (each not to exceed $100,000 per year). The council is being asked to approve on-call contracts with engineering services firms in the event that projects come up faster than city staff can design repair work for “small and medium size projects including, but not limited to, architectural design for building repair, structural engineering work for repair or construction of pedestrian bridges, retaining walls and structural building repairs, civil engineering designs for difficult or specialized utility repairs, and landscape architecture designs to augment storm water management.”

10:08 p.m. Lumm says it’s appropriate to have such arrangements in place. But she’s curious about whether it’s a new approach or if it’s something the city has always done. Public services area administrator Craig Hupy says that it’s been a common practice. The approach is to facilitate a quick turn-around time, he says.

10:08 p.m. Outcome: The council voted to approve the contracts for on-call engineering services work.

10:08 p.m. Landfill monitoring: Tetra Tech Inc. ($178,596). The council is being asked to approve an amendment to the contract with Tetra Tech Inc. (TTI) to provide additional monitoring services of the city’s now-closed landfill. The $178,596 amendment brings the total amount of the contract to $543,386. Many of the additional services the city is asking Tetra Tech to provide are associated with a plume of 1,4 dioxane and vinyl chloride contamination in Southeast Area Park, which is located northeast of the landfill at Platt and Ellsworth.

10:08 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted without discussion to approve the landfill monitoring contract with Tetra Tech.

10:09 p.m. Fire dispatching: Emergent Health Partners (fka Huron Valley Ambulance) ($215,750). The council is being asked to approve a contract for fire dispatching services – as calls for fire emergencies are not handled by the sheriff’s office like other emergency calls are. The amount of the contract is based on the number of calls in the previous year.

10:09 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the contract with Emergent Health Partners for fire dispatching.

10:09 p.m. Easements at Washtenaw & Platt (Arbor Hills Crossing). The council is being asked to approve three separate land-related items in connection with the Arbor Hills Crossing project at Platt & Washtenaw. Two of the items are easements – for a sidewalk and for bus shelters and bus pullouts. The other item is the dedication of additional public right-of-way, so that Platt Road can be widened at that intersection. Here’s how construction looked yesterday from the intersection of Platt & Washtenaw:

Platt & Washtenaw looking east down Washtenaw on July 14, 2013.

Platt & Washtenaw looking east down Washtenaw on July 14, 2013.

The council had approved the site plan for Arbor Hills Crossing at its Nov. 21, 2011 meeting.

Drawing showing the location of the planned sidewalk along Platt Road for which the city council is being asked to accept an easement.

Drawing showing the location of the planned sidewalk along Platt Road for which the city council is being asked to accept an easement.

10:11 p.m. Outcome: The council voted unanimously without discussion to approve all the items associated with Arbor Hills Crossing.

10:11 p.m. Appointments & nominations. The council is being asked to confirm the re-appointment of Russ Collins to the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board. By custom, the addresses for appointees are included in the council’s information packet. Collins, who’s executive director of the Michigan Theater, lives on Hollywood Street.

Also up for confirmation of nominations made at the council’s July 1 meeting are Jane Immonen, John Bassett, and Patrick Ion to the Elizabeth Dean Trust Fund committee, Geoffrey Mayers and Kevin Busch to the housing board of appeals, and Heather Lewis to the zoning board of appeals.

10:11 p.m. Being nominated tonight are Sue Perry to the Elizabeth Dean Trust Fund committee and Evan Nichols to the zoning board of appeals. Richard Beedon is being nominated for re-appointment to the board of the local development finance authority (LDFA). Terms on the LDFA are four years, so Beedon’s term extends to within one year of the end of the LDFA’s planned 15-year life in FY 2018.

10:12 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted without discussion to confirm all the nominations.

10:13 p.m. Council communications. Warpehoski reports on a meeting about fracking and says that he’ll be bringing a proposal to the environmental commission, on which he serves. Hieftje suggests that Warpehoski work with Pittsfield Township.

10:14 p.m. Communications from the city attorney. City attorney Stephen Postema says that the three easements on the agenda tonight took a lot of work.

10:15 p.m. Public commentary. There’s no requirement to sign up in advance for this slot for public commentary.

10:19 p.m. Thomas Partridge rises to speak for responsibility and integrity as an advocate for those residents of the city and state who are most vulnerable. Seth Best, advocate for Pizza in the Park, thanks the council for the time and for the resolution the council had passed on a fee waiver at Liberty Plaza. On behalf of the homeless population, he invites councilmembers to Pizza in the Park this Friday, which will be held in West Park.

10:19 p.m. Adjournment. We are now adjourned. That’s all from the hard benches.

Ann Arbor city council, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

A sign on the door to the Ann Arbor city council chambers gives instructions for post-meeting clean-up.

The Chronicle survives in part through regular voluntary subscriptions to support our coverage of public bodies like the Ann Arbor city council. If you’re already supporting The Chronicle please encourage your friends, neighbors and coworkers to do the same. Click this link for details: Subscribe to The Chronicle.


  1. By Scott Rosencrans
    July 16, 2013 at 11:38 pm | permalink

    As a student of the Ann Arbor Parks system it is my understanding that the Skate Park project is the first in City history to provide this level of funding from private contributions at its level of $900,000.00. No party or group has provided funding for tennis courts, basketball courts multi-purpose fields (football, soccer, ultimate frisbee) ice skating rinks,tennis courts or any other form of amenity for the general public’s benefit and that this is the first project to be largely donated by a private entity that also includes a funding mechanism for the maintenance of said amenity (approximately 6-8 thousand dollars per year). 3 years of said maintenance is already in the bank.

    Extensive research by the nonprofit also demonstrates that this amenity will be among the safest of the current parks’ systems offerings. As with 80 of Michigan’s other local government units, I suggest: Let’s skate.

  2. By Mark Koroi
    July 17, 2013 at 9:14 pm | permalink

    Re Trayvon Martin:

    The issue in not race but the need for gun user education and effective regulation over the public’s access to firearms.

    The Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed on the heels of the RFK and King shootings to limit who could obtain firearms and specify which guns could be possessed by members of the public.

    The Trayvon Martin tragedy might have been avoided if Mr.Zimmerman had been reasonably screened, properly supervised, and effective background investigations made of Mr. Zimmerman before he armed himself and confronted Trayvon.

    While everyone talks about the Trayvon criminal jury verdict, few speak of the $1 million-dollar plus settlement that the homeowner’s association’s liability insurance carrier (of the “gated community” where the shooting occurred)made with the Trayvon Martin estate this April. More wrongful death claims are expected in connection with Trayvon’s passing – including against Zimmerman himself.

    Every major tragic shooting creates questions of careless or deceptive conduct contributing to its commission. Lee H. Oswald used an alias in violation of federal law to purchase his scoped rifle. Sirhan acquired his handgun via a string of unregistered purchases. John Hinckley’s psychiatrist was sued for not warning others of Hinckley’s alleged proclivities for violence. Bernhard Goetz was convicted of possession of an unregistered weapon.

    Mr. Zimmerman’s past scrapes with the law may have put a reasonable person on notice that allowing him to have and brandish a gun was not an ideal objective.

    It is good to hear two City Council members address this tragedy, but further positive action needs to be pursued to curtail senseless gun violence.

  3. By Steve Bean
    July 17, 2013 at 11:24 pm | permalink

    “The council is being asked to approve an amendment to the contract with Tetra Tech Inc. (TTI) to provide additional monitoring services of the city’s now-closed landfill. The $178,596 amendment brings the total amount of the contract to $543,386. Many of the additional services the city is asking Tetra Tech to provide are associated with a plume of 1,4 dioxane and vinyl chloride contamination in Southeast Area Park, which is located northeast of the landfill at Platt and Ellsworth.”

    By way of clarification/more information, the landfill has been closed for about a decade, so it might be more accurate and informative to describe it as long closed. While the “additional services” might be new, the 1,4 dioxane and VC leakage from the landfill has been under monitoring for a number of years.