Comments on: Library Wary of Downtown Park Proposal it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: David Cahill David Cahill Sun, 27 Oct 2013 15:24:19 +0000 I was on the Library Board from 2000 to 2008. Security at the Downtown Library was a serious concern. At one point drug dealers were using the bathroom ceiling to store drugs. We substantially beefed up security, including posting staff full-time near the door.

The problem is not only with criminals, but with the homeless and other PWIs (People With Issues). Frequent calls to the police, plus the Library’s own staff, make this problem manageable.

I don’t think this problem makes a park on the Library Lot unrealistic.

By: Herb Herb Sat, 26 Oct 2013 21:47:24 +0000 Not long ago during the millage campaign for a new downtown library (convention center?) there were claims and counter claims, at time acrimonious, about the numbers of and problems caused by “non traditional users”. During this debate the management was notably absent. Now with the park issue we get some data such as calls to the police every three or four days, four security guards on the payroll, daily behavior problems. Better late than never. Makes me wonder not only why a new park but also why the downtown library?

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Fri, 25 Oct 2013 12:42:55 +0000 I’ve been reading a great deal about “placemaking”, a concept behind many new urban initiatives. The idea is to make a downtown a vibrant (that word!) active engaging space that draws people out and creates a sense of community. It is what is supposed to attract the desirable “Millenials”. (Around here we call them “talent”.)

One of the common threads in all the accounts is urban open space. It is ironic, considering all the rhetoric about our downtown that has issued from the DDA, that we would ignore this.

Here is a link to a recent authoritative white paper on the subject. (large file) [link to .pdf] One of the places cited is Bryant Park.

By: Jim Rees Jim Rees Fri, 25 Oct 2013 12:17:48 +0000 Will and Odile, I was thinking the same thing. It’s harder for us because we don’t have millions of residents. We also have a poor record with downtown parks but we can use that as a guide for what not to do. It makes no sense to say we’re not going to put in a park because we don’t know if it will work. Put in the park, then make it work.

I’ve got a lot of ideas and I’m sure others do too. Here are a few. Lease part of the plaza to the two restaurants, at $1 a year. Put in a proper pedestrian connection to Liberty Plaza. Make a front porch for the library, with benches, tables, and chess boards. Bring in a food cart. Put a mid-block crossing on Fifth to connect to the bus station. Re-zone and provide incentives for neighboring businesses to put storefronts facing the park. Get the Credit Union to move their ATM to the back of their lot. Get the Feds to fix the post office, and have the front door face Fifth. Put in an ice rink.

By: Odile Hugonot Haber Odile Hugonot Haber Thu, 24 Oct 2013 14:06:01 +0000 It is strange that every one fears the possibility of a park rather than to welcome it and embrace it as a needed challenge.
Having been in New York recently I learned that there are at least 70 parks in Manhattan only; some are very popular like the Bryant Park behind the library, which offers Tai Chi and yoga classes in the morning, people playing chess, an outdoor restaurant, places for children to play. The smallest Parks like Greenacre or Payley Park are wonderful little islands of greenery with water falls, a place of calm respite.
If Manhattan can do it, why can’t we? Children need playgrounds, one by the library would be most welcome. Older people need more benches, and water fountains also. The resident of Ann Arbor who do not have a home should have a day warming shelter other than the library like 721 North Main street which the city owns.
There are pro-active ways to address all of the Library’s concerns for the betterment of the whole community.
For the park, there are plenty of very good designers in Ann Arbor that could offer different designs that the residents could review and then would be invited to offer their opinions: a Participatory Park.
As the article says, we could come up with creative, very innovative and beautiful designs.

By: Will Hathaway Will Hathaway Thu, 24 Oct 2013 04:34:41 +0000 I appreciate the Ann Arbor Chronicle’s coverage of the Library Board discussion about the recommendation for a public open space adjacent to the downtown library. As one of those advocating for a public park/plaza on this location, I have learned much from discussions with Josie Parker and members of the Library Board. I understand more about the challenges that they face in maintaining the downtown library as a public space. They are dealing with significant challenges and it is not surprising that the protectors of the downtown library would view the idea of a new, nearby public open space with suspicion.

Our group is working to create a park/plaza that will complement the mission of the AADL. We seek to engage the Library Board and the other neighbors of the site in thinking creatively about how to solve challenges of the entire Library Block – not just the relatively small space on top of the underground structure. This includes thinking about Liberty Plaza – a rare public open space downtown that is full of potential but also emblematic of the challenges posed by downtown parks. How can we work together to create the connections for pedestrians so that this public space is a year-round destination for people rather than a concrete waste-land for cars? That should be our goal. We are looking forward to a positive community dialogue to shape this optimistic vision into reality.