Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Oct. 15, 2013): Commissioners who’ve been evaluating possibilities for downtown parks and open space delivered their recommendations at this month’s meeting, wrapping up an effort that traces back over a year.
The report of the downtown parks subcommittee includes several broad recommendations based on feedback gathered over the past few months, with an emphasis on “placemaking” principles that include active use, visibility and safety. The most specific recommendation calls for developing a park or open space on top of the city-owned Library Lot underground parking structure, adjacent to the downtown library.
A park at that location should exceed 5,000 square feet, according to the report, and connect to Library Lane, a small mid-block cut-through that runs north of the library between Fifth and Division. That connection offers flexibility, because the lane can be closed off for events to temporarily increase the size of a park or open space at that location.
Commissioners discussed and made some minor amendments to the subcommittee’s recommendations, which they then unanimously voted to approve. Most of the discussion focused on the Library Lot site. The recommendations will be forwarded to the city council for consideration.
Also on Oct. 15, Harry Sheehan briefed PAC about how a stormwater management project for Upper Malletts Creek might impact three city parks: Eisenhower, Churchill Downs and Lawton. The project, overseen by the Washtenaw County office of the water resources commissioner, is still in the planning phase. It’s intended to help control flooding in a neighborhood that’s roughly bounded by I-94, Scio Church Road and Ann Arbor-Saline Road, on the city’s southwest side.
Park planner Amy Kuras updated commissioners on capital projects throughout the parks system, highlighting projects that were completed this summer as well as work that’s ongoing, like construction of the Ann Arbor skatepark.
Missy Stults, PAC’s representative on the city’s environmental commission, reported that the commission has developed a work plan with strategies that are mostly tied to the city’s sustainability framework and climate action plan. For example, the plan includes work to promote re-useable water bottles and to discourage the use of plastic water bottles. One idea is to develop an app that would show people where to get public water, including water fountains in city parks. Tying in with that work plan item, Colin Smith – the city’s parks and recreation manager – reported said the city is looking to replace several water fountains at parks and recreation facilities with fountains that indicate how many plastic bottles have been saved by people using the water fountains. He noted that similar fountains are used at the University of Michigan.
Oct. 15 was the final meeting for Julie Grand, who is term limited after serving six years on PAC. Grand, who served on the downtown parks subcommittee, thanked commissioners for passing the recommendations, saying “it’s a great way to go out.”