Comments on: Push to Program Liberty Plaza, Library Lane it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Larry Baird Larry Baird Tue, 26 Aug 2014 17:23:48 +0000 Re: 4)

Unfortunately, there has been an inconsistent adherence to the city’s master plans.

Unlike the Library Lot discussion, PAC has not referenced back to the PROS Plan or Non-Motorized Transportation Plan when they have discussed and approved the continued lease renewals of the supposedly “temporary”, Fuller Park parking lot leases to UM.

Several council members (Anglin and Eaton) have asked for PAC to readdress the lease contract but Taylor is citing the legal definition of council’s action (a postponement) versus sending it back to PAC for a more thorough review and discussion.

Whether we are talking about building a park on top of a parking structure or parking lots on top of a park, there needs to be a consistent review and public input process.

By: Will Hathaway Will Hathaway Mon, 25 Aug 2014 22:28:25 +0000 Yet again the 2011-2015 Park and Recreation Open Space (PROS) Plan has been cited as basis for opposition to an urban park on the Library Lot. Supposedly the key part of the PROS plan is that future parks should not come at the expense of existing parks (described in the PROS findings as “taking care of what we have”). The implication is that this is a central finding of the 2011-2015 PROS Plan. This is not the first time that the anonymous “Liberalnimby” has made this assertion in an online comment. Interestingly, this same argument was offered during the recent primary campaign by one of the candidates for City Council.

Liberalnimby (and others) are misrepresenting the 2011-2015 PROS Plan when they claim it opposes creation of an urban park on the Library Lot. Their argument seems to consist of two parts: 1) the PROS Plan is a more definitive representation of public sentiment than other measures, and 2) the PROS Plan clearly states that “no new parks should be acquired until we adequately maintain existing parks first.”

The public process used in gathering input for the 2011-2015 PROS Plan included an online survey that received 822 responses. In the questions for which response data were provided a majority of respondents said that maintenance was “good” or “excellent” and they expressed satisfaction with existing facilities. Based on the PROS report, there was no specific survey question that posed a choice between existing and new parks. There were apparently no specific questions about downtown parks and open spaces in the PROS process (except for a hypothetical downtown dog park which received some favorable responses).

In comparison with the PROS Plan’s 822 survey respondents, the 2013 Parks Advisory Commission (PAC) Downtown Parks and Open Space survey had 1,608 respondents – twice the response received by the PROS survey. Of these, 76.2% (1,223 respondents) supported creation of additional downtown parks. Out of multiple choices they expressed clear preference for the Library Lot as the location for a new urban park. Based on numbers alone, the 2013 PAC citizen response outweighs the PROS Plan citizen response.

This concern about resources for existing parks was mentioned in some of the PROS focus groups discussions. The focus groups that expressed this concern as an element of their feedback were the City Planning Commission, Park Operations and Natural Area Preservation Staff, and the Recreation Advisory Commission. These particular constituencies would have been aware of the successive years of budget reductions for City parks. They would also have been more focused on existing maintenance needs. By way of contrast, none of the three public meetings held in the PROS process even mentioned this resource concern.

Does the 2011-2015 PROS Plan say anything specific about urban parks? Yes, page 118 of the PROS Plan states this goal: “Work with the Downtown Development Authority to plan for renovation and acquisition of downtown open space, including the development of the library lot.”

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) took a big step in the direction of creating a public open space on the Library Lot. It designed part of the surface of the Library Lane parking structure to be the location of a future public plaza. Although there has been some confusion in the past about the exact dimensions of this space, we learned that the portion of Fifth Avenue frontage that is designed for a civic plaza (i.e. it lacks the reinforced footings to support construction above) is actually close to 8,000 square feet. City Council added a mere 4,000 square feet when it designated the full Fifth Avenue frontage for a public park.

Liberalnimby and others who say there should be no urban park on the Library Lot should find another argument besides the 2011-2015 PROS Plan. As far as the decision about locating a public plaza there, that location was baked into the construction of the Library Lane Parking Structure. City Council just made that urban park a little bit larger.

By: Jeff Hayner Jeff Hayner Mon, 25 Aug 2014 18:39:10 +0000 #1 – Finally, someone addresses the elephant in the room. While the PAC is calling for “eyes on the park” in the case of the Library Lot, not one word has been said about just who is in the best position to keep their “eyes on the park” at Liberty Plaza, and that is SPARK. But you see, SPARK is not doing that, nor have they stepped forward to offer that service. No, SPARK takes care of SPARK, and that’s about it. They have been the immediate next door neighbor since at least 2007, and not once have we heard from them about taking any responsibility for the space. First Martin, the building owner, has done the bulk of the maintaining Liberty Plaza. Too bad our “economic development engine” SPARK can’t think of ONE way to help. It’s the least they could do.

By: liberalnimby liberalnimby Mon, 25 Aug 2014 15:44:51 +0000 “Programming” is what you do for a successful park. It cannot save a poorly designed space. Having events once or twice a week in the summer (or even every day) will do zero to help create a different environment in the remaining 99% of the year. Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad Bank of Ann Arbor is doing events. But do they help the park the second the band leaves?

Take it as a cautionary tale for the misguided council decision to force a park in an even worse location right next door. Fast forward to three years from now: “Families intimidated by Library Plaza crowd; PAC weighs programming options.”

What a waste of volunteer time and community effort. When will council do their job and listen to what we, the community, asked for in our official Parks Plan? No more urban parks until we fix what we have.

By: Roger Rayle Roger Rayle Mon, 25 Aug 2014 03:38:29 +0000 Regarding Liberty Plaza, I’d like to see SPARK shift their incubator space facing Liberty Plaza to another location and use that space as a startup incubator coffee house with garage doors that open up to the east to the lower part of Liberty Plaza a la Real Seafood Co.

It’s “place-making” that would make for better use of the park. It would provide an informal place for budding and established entrepreneurs to congregate, share ideas and help each other when they want to get out of their home, company or co-working offices instead of hanging out at random coffee houses all over town. Think of the serendipity that would ensue. I would think there are several coffee house proprietors who would bid for a chance to run such a business there, especially with Liberty Street turning into “entrepreneurs row”.

As for the Library Lane parking structure, I’m thinking “Winterfest” with “Bottom of the Park” performances. Run some wifi and cell repeaters down there on the lowest level, set up a stage, have people bring their own chairs, and listen to some music out of the cold up above ground during the nastiest part of the winter. And people who are nostalgic for dancing on a sloping parking structure floor like the original Top of the Park can get their fix. Food trucks/carts/booths and parking on levels above.