Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Nov. 19, 2013): The main agenda item this month was a project that PAC had acted on over a year ago: The relocation of tennis courts at Windemere Park.
As part of an effort to replace the deteriorated courts, commissioners had recommended relocating them to a different spot within the park. That action took place at their meeting on Oct. 16, 2012, with the expectation that parks staff would solicit bids and seek city council approval for a construction contract to rebuild the courts in the spring of 2013.
But pushback from residents – and advocacy from city councilmember Jane Lumm, who represents Ward 2 where Windemere Park is located – led to further discussions, an online poll conducted by residents, and ultimately a return to PAC. On Nov. 19, several residents attended the meeting, including Lumm, and asked PAC to reconsider its recommendation.
Rather than relocating the courts toward the center of the park, they hoped to shift the location to the north so that more open space in the park would be preserved. PAC’s Nov. 19 meeting included a presentation in support of this option by Ed Weiss of the Earhart Knolls Homeowners Association and Jeff Alson, a resident and member of the Glacier Highlands Homeowners Association. However, one homeowner attended the meeting to disagree – her home would be closer to the courts if the location is changed.
Some commissioners expressed concern about setting precedent for a reversal of their decision, but after discussing the issue they voted unanimously to schedule another public meeting with residents. Options to consider will include the one that was originally recommended by PAC and the one that’s now being proposed by some residents as an alternative. The city might also conduct its own online poll to get additional feedback. It’s possible that the new public process will push back the project until the 2015 construction season.
Also on Nov. 19, commissioners got an update on the first four months of the fiscal year from Bob Galardi, chair of PAC’s budget and finance committee. For all parks and recreation facilities, the current projections of $3.943 million in revenues are about $52,000 over the originally budgeted amounts. In particular, revenues related to the Argo Cascades are $100,000 better than expected. On the expense side, overall costs are projected to be $5.211 million – or $50,000 less than budgeted. The fiscal year runs from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014, and Galardi cautioned that these projections represent an early interim report.
The meeting included several updates and reports, including news that long-time PAC member Tim Berla – who served as the representative from Ann Arbor Rec & Ed’s recreation advisory commission – will no longer be serving on PAC. He attended his last meeting in September. PAC chair Ingrid Ault expects a new RAC appointment by early 2014.
In an update from the city council, Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) – one of two council representatives who serve on PAC – noted that a park fee waiver recommended by PAC had been approved by the council on Nov. 18. The waiver is for groups who want to distribute goods for basic human needs at a city park. He also noted that on Nov. 7, the council had accepted PAC’s report on downtown parks and open space “with speed and a lack of unhappiness.” He did not mention that the other council representative on PAC, Mike Anglin (Ward 5), had dissented on that vote to accept the report.