Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (March 15, 2011): A meeting packed with presentations also included a last-minute addition to the agenda: Resolutions recommending support of the city’s application for grants from the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources Trust Fund. The grants – for $300,000 each – would help fund the Ann Arbor skatepark and upgrades to the Gallup canoe livery and park.
The resolution for Gallup passed unanimously, but commissioner Sam Offen – without comment – cast a vote against the resolution for the skatepark grant.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, commissioner Gwen Nystuen suggested forming a committee to look more closely at the Fuller Road Station project – she felt that as stewards of the city’s parkland, PAC should take a more active role in examining the proposed parking structure, bus depot and possible train station. The project, a joint effort between the city and the University of Michigan, would be located on land that’s previously been designated as parkland, though it’s been leased to the university as a surface parking lot since the early 1990s. Nystuen did not put forward a formal resolution, and commissioners took no action on the idea.
The meeting included five presentations from various groups, including updates on the city’s two golf courses, the new Give 365 volunteer program, and a restoration project for a stretch of Malletts Creek near Huron Parkway. Commissioners also heard a proposal for a new Wednesday night farmers market, and got a mid-year financial report on the open space and parkland preservation millage.
Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Oct. 19, 2010): Though the proposal facing park advisory commissioners wasn’t directly related to the question of whether to keep or remove Argo Dam, PAC heard from nearly a dozen people during public commentary who aired their views on that topic.
The resolution that PAC ultimately approved was a recommendation to build a bypass channel in the Argo Dam headrace for $988,170, and to add whitewater features for an additional $180,000. The $1,168,170 project would be designed by Gary Lacy of Boulder, Colo., and built by TSP Environmental, a Livonia firm.
City staff said this was the only proposal submitted that met the requirements laid out in the city’s request for proposals (RFP). The plan calls for removing the canoe portage, replacing it with a series of “drop pools” so that no portage is required. The project will also improve accessibility of the path – which is part of Washtenaw County’s Border-to-Border trail – and address problems in the headrace embankment that were identified by state officials. The work is tied to a consent agreement that the city reached with the state in May, laying out steps that the city must take to deal with some long-outstanding structural issues.
Commissioner Tim Berla voted against the resolution, calling it a “protest vote” because removal of Argo Dam hadn’t been considered as an option – that same point was made by several speakers during public commentary. Park staff has indicated that this project doesn’t preclude removing Argo Dam in the future, if that’s a decision that the community makes.
Funding for the project is available from the city’s Parks Rehabilitation & Development millage and the drinking water fund, according to city staff. An additional $50,000 might be available from the Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission, to help pay for a portion of the project related to the county’s Border-to-Border trail.
Several people – both commissioners and speakers during public commentary – questioned the appropriateness of using the water fund for this purpose, saying that Argo dam has nothing to do with drinking water. Local attorney Scott Munzel argued that using the water fund to pay for dam-related projects might be illegal, based on case law, because it’s being used as a way to skirt the Headlee Amendment. Munzel is a board member of the Huron River Watershed Council, which has lobbied vigorously to remove the dam for environmental reasons.
The proposal for reconstruction of the headrace and embankment will now be forwarded to city council.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, PAC members heard an update from parks staff about this season’s activities at the city’s three outdoor public pools – at Buhr, Fuller and Veterans Memorial parks. The former supervisor for Buhr Park Pool, Gayle LaVictoire, also gave a brief presentation to commissioners about her new job as volunteer outreach coordinator for the parks system, a newly created position.
And at the end of the meeting, Colin Smith, manager of parks and recreation, announced that the Ann Arbor Senior Center received more residents’ votes than other city facilities in a recent contest sponsored by Stonyfield Farm, and will receive $15,000 from that firm.
Ann Arbor City Council meeting (April 5, 2010) Part 2: The greatest part of the council’s meeting last week – covered in Part 1 of our report – was taken up with the public hearing and deliberations on The Moravian project, which failed to get the 8-vote super majority it needed for approval. However, the council handled other business besides The Moravian.
Among that business was a proposed local ordinance banning cell phone use while driving or bicycling. The council decided not to repeat a postponement to a particular date for its consideration of the cell phone ban. Instead, the council tabled the ordinance. Tabling means that the ordinance can be brought back for consideration by the council, but by council rule it will die unless it is brought back within six months.
The council’s business included an item that would have reconsidered its recent decision to replace the entire Ann Arbor housing commission board. The motion for reconsideration was voted down, with no support, not even from its two sponsors – Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). Kunselman cited the late hour as part of the reason for his lack of enthusiasm for pursuing the matter. Two people had spoken during public commentary on the issue, including one of the ousted board members.
Also receiving brief discussion was a possible council rule on email that the council must consider publicly at its next meeting under terms of a recent lawsuit settlement. Two proclamations were also made, one to declare April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month and the other as part of a recent move by the council to honor parks volunteers once a month.