Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Aug. 16, 2011): During a three-hour meeting on Tuesday, park commissioners walked down several topical trails in what PAC chair Julie Grand aptly described as a “super-packed” agenda.
Commissioners approved a resolution recommending a change to the scope of work at the Argo headrace – a change that will add a new entrance to the soon-to-be-reconstructed waterway from Argo Pond to the Huron River. The modification to the project was linked to an offer from DTE to pay for a whitewater section that’s part of the overall project, which freed up city funds for the new entrance. A state permit needed to start the reconstruction is expected to be received by Aug. 23.
A second resolution introduced at Tuesday’s meeting urged the city council to incorporate design of a trail system – including the county’s Border to Border (B2B) trail – into the Fuller Road area in advance of building the proposed Fuller Road Station. Two members of the Washtenaw Bicycling & Walking Coalition were on hand with suggestions for where trails might be located to bypass the busy intersection of Fuller Road, Maiden Lane and East Medical Center Drive.
The topic of trails also emerged tangentially during a presentation by PAC vice chair John Lawter on dog parks. Some people walk their dogs off leash on park trails and in other park areas, violating Ann Arbor’s ordinance requiring dogs to be leashed. The exception is in the city’s two dog parks, on the north and south edges of town.
Lawter suggested that Ann Arbor might find other ways to let dogs off leash, either by creating another traditional dog park that’s more centrally located, or designating certain hours for dogs to be off leash in specific parks. PAC might form a subcommittee to explore options for a new dog park, and for how to increase enforcement of existing dog-control ordinances. Such an effort might uncover more data points like those Lawter provided in his presentation, which included the pounds of poo collected annually at Swift Run dog park.
Data collection has also been part of developing the city’s first urban forest management plan. Oliver Kiley of JJR, the consultant leading this project, updated the commission on the effort. Possible outcomes include a recommended maintenance plan, protections for mature trees, targets for new tree plantings, and proposals for relevant ordinances and zoning. The discussion among commissioners led to concerns over whether the city is prepared for something similar to the emerald ash borer – which decimated thousands of trees in the city over the past decade and chewed up the city’s forestry budget for several years.
The urban forest management plan will be among the 26 city plans in a sustainability framework being developed, focused on “triple-bottom line” goals of economic vitality, environmental quality and social equity. The commission was briefed on this project in preparation for a Sept. 27 joint meeting of the park, planning, energy and environmental commissions. The goal of that meeting is to start prioritizing goals from these existing city plans.