Stories indexed with the term ‘parks and recreation’

Ann Arbor Passes Outdoor Smoking Law

A new Ann Arbor law regulating smoking outside of public buildings and also potentially in areas of some city parks has been given final approval by the city council.

A pole for disposing of cigarette butts placed outside the Ann Street entrance to Ann Arbor's city hall building.

A pole for disposing of cigarette butts is placed outside the Ann Street entrance to Ann Arbor’s city hall building.

Smoking within a specified distance of certain locations is punishable under the new ordinance through a $25 civil fine. Those locations include: … [Full Story]

More Planning for Rec Center in Ypsilanti

Washtenaw County parks and recreation commission meeting (April 10, 2012): Most of this month’s county parks and recreation commission meeting focused on plans for a recreation center in the eastern part of the county. The proposed center would be near downtown Ypsilanti on the northwest corner of the 38-acre Water Street site, located on the south side of Michigan Avenue and east of the Huron River.

Border to Border Trail sign at Water Street property in Ypsilanti

A sign at Ypsilanti's Water Street property indicating that this will be a future segment of Washtenaw County's Border to Border Trail. A portion of the site adjacent to the Huron River is being considered for a possible new county recreation center. (Photos by Mary Morgan.)

The commission heard from faculty of the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, who will lead a team of six students in developing a conceptual plan for the rec center by the end of December. They also heard from deputy parks and rec director Coy Vaughn about the steering committee and working groups that will oversee and coordinate the design team’s work, and ensure adequate participation by community members and other stakeholders, including the Ann Arbor YMCA. Some commissioners indicated that community input was especially important for this project.

Among the meeting’s action items, the commission approved the acquisition of additional land through the county’s natural areas preservation program, in partnership with other governmental entities, including the Ann Arbor greenbelt program. The properties include 23 acres in Ann Arbor Township and 33 acres in Northfield Township – both owned by J.A. Bloch & Co. – and the 35-acre Sloan property in Scio Township.

Additional items included a report from parks and rec director Bob Tetens about the department’s help in cleaning up after the March 15 tornado touchdown in Dexter; an update on improvement projects and activities at park facilities and preserves; and the latest milestones in a project to connect the Border-to-Border Trail in the village of Dexter, including a new bridge.

Other major action in the meeting included a review of the parks and rec budget to date, through the first quarter of the fiscal year. Tetens reported that the unusually warm weather this year had two effects: much less participation and revenue from Rolling Hills winter park compared to the last two years; and much more activity and revenue at the Pierce Lake Golf Course, which was also in part related to the March 15 tornado’s damage to other golf courses in the area. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Park Improvements In the Works

Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Feb. 28, 2012): Commissioners took action on several parks projects at their most recent meeting, and were briefed on others already in the works.

Colin Smith

Colin Smith, Ann Arbor's parks and recreation manager, signs sheets from more than a dozen local high school students attesting that they had attended the Feb. 28, 2012 meeting of the city's park advisory commission, as part of a class assignment. (Photos by the writer.)

The largest of the action items was a $865,190 contract for road, parking, pathway and other exterior renovations at Buhr Park and Cobblestone Farm. The work will include resurfacing the entry road off of Packard, and improving the path system to allow better access within the park area, as well as a connection from Essex Street into the park. The city council later approved the project at its March 5 meeting.

Commissioners also recommended approval of a 15-foot landscaping buffer in Riverside Park, next to a proposed new DTE Energy substation that abuts the park. DTE is seeking a variance from the city code, which requires a land use buffer for any commercial site that’s adjacent to a park – without the variance, that buffer would need to be located on DTE property. The new substation, to be located in the utility company’s Ann Arbor service center at 984 Broadway, will provide more electrical power to the downtown area due to increased demand.

Also recommended for approval was a $35,200 contract for restroom renovations at the Ann Arbor Senior Center. The facility will be closed in May while the project is completed, and activities will be scheduled at other locations. When PAC chair Julie Grand said she was impressed to see that so many companies had bid on the project, parks manager Colin Smith noted that it might reflect changes related to CUB agreements.

To comply with new state legislation, last summer the city council rescinded a resolution that had previously required contractors for city projects to execute Construction Unity Board (CUB) agreements. The agreements are negotiated between local trade unions and contractors, and require that contractors abide by terms of collective bargaining agreements for the duration of the construction project.

At their Feb. 28 meeting, park commissioners were also updated on a project to make exterior improvements – primarily related to pedestrian pathways – at the Leslie Science & Nature Center. The center, located at 1831 Traver Road, was previously part of the city’s parks system but since 2007 has operated as an independent nonprofit. However, the city still owns and maintains the buildings and property. The first stage of the project will focus on making pathways to the center’s popular raptor enclosures more accessible.

Commissioners also learned that during the week of March 12, the city will begin to install a new pedestrian bridge at the end of the Argo Dam bypass. Because of the construction, the recently renovated bypass will be temporarily closed. A stoplog will be put in to stop the flow of water into the bypass – the project will likely take a couple of weeks. The path along the bypass is expected to be paved later in April, with the end in sight for the entire project by May.

Smith reported that Argo Cascades will be the new name for the bypass – a series of drop pools that eliminates the need to portage along that stretch.

During an update on the parks and recreation budget, Smith reported that due to extra funds available from the park operations budget, plans are in the works to: (1) restore mowing to a 14-day cycle – the cycle has in recent seasons been every 19 days; (2) increase seasonal staffing between April 15 and Oct. 15; and (3) hire three park rangers from May through September, to deal better with maintenance and enforcement issues in the parks.

Several items were also raised during the time set aside for communications. Smith noted that the six-year, 1.1 mill parks maintenance and capital improvements millage will be coming up for renewal this fall. Staff has already started working on the renewal process, gathering materials in preparation for a March 12 city council working session. The millage was last approved in 2006.

It was also noted that two key staff members are leaving their jobs soon. Molly Notarianni, the city’s market manager, is stepping down at the end of March after about four years on the job. The position has already been posted. And long-time Rec & Ed director Sara Aeschbach will be retiring this summer. Both were praised for their service.

At the end of the meeting, commissioner Gwen Nystuen reminded her PAC colleagues about an upcoming sustainability forum on Thursday, March 8 at 7 p.m. in the downtown Ann Arbor District Library building. It’s the third in a series of four, this one focusing on climate and energy, and is part of a broader sustainability project that began last year and includes developing sustainability goals for the city. [See Chronicle coverage of the first and second forums in the series.] A public forum on the forums is also scheduled for March 29 from 6-8 p.m. at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library building, 343 S. Fifth Ave. [Full Story]

Golf: Fees Raised; Task Force Renewed

At its Feb. 22, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council authorized a fee increase at the city’s golf courses, and reappointed members of the city’s golf courses advisory task force.

Power golf cart rentals for 9 holes at Leslie Park and Huron Hills will increase from $7 to $8; for 18 holes, the rental fee would increase from $13 to $14. City staff estimate the increases would generate $25,000 in additional revenue per season. Weekend fees for 9 and 18 holes at Leslie Park golf course will increase by $2 and $1, respectively, and the twilight fee would increase to $16, up from $15. These increases would generate an estimated additional $12,500 in revenue per season. In addition, the council approved raising the senior citizen qualification age to 59 for the 2011 season. That’s part of a consultant’s proposal to incrementally increase the qualification age from 55 to 62 by adding one year to the minimum age annually.

The actions came to the council in advance of the regular budget, so that the rates can be in place for the opening of the courses in the spring.

At the council’s meeting, the mandate of the city’s golf courses advisory task force, first appointed in 2008, was also renewed and its members were reappointed. Its members are: Stephen Rapundalo (city council); Julie Grand (park advisory commission); Bill Newcomb and Ed Walsh (citizens with demonstrated golf operations expertise); Thomas Allen (Ann Arbor citizen with group golf play experience); Barbara Jo Smith (Ann Arbor golf courses patron); John Stetz (citizen and member of a neighborhood association adjoining a golf course). The task force will be chaired by Rapundalo.

This brief was filed from the boardroom in the Washtenaw County administration building, where the council is meeting due to renovations in the city hall building. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]