Stories indexed with the term ‘skatepark’

Ann Arbor Gives Initial OK to Pot Licenses

Ann Arbor city council meeting (March 21, 2011): In its highest profile business of the evening, the council finally gave its initial approval to a licensing plan for medical marijuana businesses.

Susan Pollay, Sandi Smith, Margie Teall

Susan Pollay, left, executive director of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, with councilmembers Sandi Smith (Ward 1) and Margie Teall (Ward 4, sitting) before the start of the March 21 council meeting. Pollay was distributing copies of the downtown street outreach task force report. (Photos by the writer.)

The council has now been formally considering the new licensing ordinance for three months. The ordinance will next come before the council at its Tuesday, April 19 meeting for final approval. Also on April 19, the council will take a final vote on a zoning ordinance that would apply to medical marijuana businesses. The moratorium on use of property in the city for medical marijuana businesses – originally enacted on Aug. 5, 2010 to last for 120 days, but subsequently extended – was extended again at Monday’s meeting through June 30, 2011. [.pdf of medical marijuana licensing ordinance as amended on March 21, 2011]

In a lower-profile but logistically significant move, the council voted to move its second meeting of April from Monday to Tuesday, April 19, because sundown on that Monday marks the start of the week-long Passover celebration in the Jewish tradition.

Other business conducted by the council included: (1) approving a recommendation for non-renewal of a liquor license for the Fifth Quarter; (2) authorizing transfer of $90,000 to the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority to improve a public plaza near the Forest Street parking structure; (3) setting a public hearing to establish an industrial development district that could lead to tax abatements for the firm Sakti3; (4) authorizing a letter of support for a Washtenaw County grant application to the state for acquisition of a natural area; and (5) authorizing the city’s own application to the state for grants to support park improvement projects and a new skatepark.

Council deliberations on the park improvement grant applications resulted in the prioritization of a grant to support construction of the skatepark over one to support improvements to the Gallup park canoe livery. The city hopes both grants will be approved by the state.

The council also heard a presentation on a plan for the Millers Creek area, and later in its meeting adopted the plan. It could eventually lead to establishing the creekshed formally as a “drain,” in the sense that the county water resources commissioner (formerly the drain commissioner) uses the term. That designation will increase the area’s eligibility for various funding mechanisms to pay for projects there.

The council heard a presentation from its street outreach task force, summarizing its work over the last six months. That work includes a proposed revision to the city’s panhandling ordinance, which the council will begin considering at its April 4 meeting.

The council also passed a resolution establishing a search committee for a new city administrator. The committee will bring a recommendation to the council at its April 19 meeting on an interim administrator, who will assume responsibilities when current city administrator Roger Fraser departs at the end of April.

The city’s IT director, Dan Rainey, was on hand to receive a Digital Cities award recognizing the city’s efforts to improve services through digital technology. Fraser mentioned during his communications time that the council’s meetings are now being streamed live over the Internet: CTN Channel 16 Live. [Full Story]

PAC Supports Grants for Skatepark, Gallup

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.

Julie Grand, Sam Offen

Julie Grand, chair of the Ann Arbor park advisory commission, talks with PAC member Sam Offen before the start of Tuesday’s meeting. Offen was the only commissioner to vote against support of a state grant application for the Ann Arbor skatepark. (Photos by the writer.)

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. [Full Story]

PAC Supports Apps: Skatepark, Canoe Livery

At its March 15, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor park advisory commission passed two resolutions of support for the city to apply 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 vote for the Gallup application was unanimous. Commissioner Sam Offen voted against the resolution of support for the skatepark grant.

The issue of the city’s grant applications previously emerged during the March 9 meeting of the Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission. At that meeting, Tom Freeman of the county’s parks & recreation department told greenbelt commissioners that the county would be applying for a DNR trust fund grant to help buy a parcel in Ann Arbor Township now owned by a subsidiary of Domino’s Farms. The parcel would become part of the county’s natural areas preservation program.

Greenbelt commissioners discussed voting on a letter of support for the county’s application, but were dissuaded by Ann Arbor councilmember Carsten Hohnke, who felt it would dilute the city’s own chances for grant funds from the state – for the skate park and the canoe livery. Ultimately, greenbelt commissioners voted to recommend that the city council consider sending a letter of support for the county’s application.

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

Vote on Ann Arbor Parks Plan Postponed

Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Jan. 18, 2011): Commissioners were set to vote on recommending approval of the updated five-year Parks and Recreation Open Space (PROS) plan, but decided to postpone their vote until the February meeting to allow for possible additional public input.

Sam Offen, Tim Doyle

Park advisory commissioners Sam Offen, left, and Tim Doyle look at a schematic of the proposed Allen Creek Greenway during a presentation at PAC's Jan. 18 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

A speaker during PAC’s public hearing on the plan had pointed out that the official public commentary period runs through Jan. 24. That prompted discussion among commissioners about whether to hold off until all possible commentary is heard – though some indicated there’d already been ample opportunity for feedback. Another public hearing on the PROS plan will be held at the planning commission’s Feb. 1 meeting, with a vote by that group set for Feb. 15. City council is expected to hold a public hearing and vote on the plan in early March.

Tuesday’s PAC meeting included two presentations. Mike Quinn, a board member of the Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy, described the group’s efforts and asked PAC to convey a sense of urgency about the project to city council. And Scott Rosencrans, a former PAC chair, gave an update on the Ann Arbor skatepark: “The big news is that this is the year we build the skatepark.”

Updates from city parks staff included a quarterly financial report, during which parks manager Colin Smith reported that parks & recreaction is looking at 2.5% cuts during the next budget cycle. Commissioners also got briefed on the outcome of the Miles of Golf proposal to take over operations of the Huron Hills golf course – a proposal rejected by the city late last year – and an update on planned improvements at the Gallup Park canoe livery. Staff will hold a public meeting with concept plans on Tuesday, Jan. 25 at the livery, starting at 7 p.m. If the plan is approved, the city is poised to apply for state grant funding for the project, estimated to cost about $450,000. [Full Story]

DDA Board Retreat to Focus on City Talks

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Sept. 1, 2010): On its surface, the first regular meeting of the DDA board after its July election of new officers seemed to be a relatively uneventful gathering. Two topics that could have prompted extended deliberations were handled in short order.


Washington & Fifth Avenue, looking northwest. The concrete mixer is parked directly in front of the DDA offices. The entry for the board's Sept. 1 meeting was through the alley and the garage, which makes up part of the ground floor of the Fifth Avenue Building. (Photos by the writer.)

The first issue, handled with relatively little comment, was the report out from the DDA’s “mutually beneficial” committee, given by Roger Hewitt. The committee has been meeting over the course of the summer with a corresponding committee from the Ann Arbor city council to renegotiate the parking agreement under which the DDA manages the city’s parking system.

While board members Newcombe Clark and Russ Collins commented in a general way on the status of the conversations, it did not lead to any specific directive to the DDA’s committee for its next meeting, which will take place on Sept. 13 at 8:30 a.m.

However, at the suggestion of DDA executive director Susan Pollay, the board will schedule a retreat between now and its monthly board meeting in October – but likely after Sept. 13 – to focus on the “mutually beneficial” issue. In the meantime, the DDA’s committee will request of its city council counterparts that they provide their own assessment of the status of the negotiations. The Sept. 13 meeting of the two committees will also be the occasion when Pollay provides a detailed version of the outline, which she’d provided at the last committee meeting on Aug. 23, for a possible role for the DDA in the development of city-owned surface lots.

The second issue dispatched by the board with little overt controversy was a resolution that Newcombe Clark had brought through the operations committee last Wednesday to allocate $50,000 for support of skatepark facilities. Clark himself suggested that the resolution be tabled, alluding to the “prism through which everything is looked at this time of year.” DDA board members went along with that suggestion.

The prism to which Clark alluded is a political one. Clark is running an independent campaign for the Ward 5 city council seat currently held by Democrat Carsten Hohnke. Hohnke has positioned himself as a champion of the skating community’s efforts to construct a skateboarding facility at Veterans Memorial Park, which is in Ward 5.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the newest member of the board, former Washtenaw County administrator Bob Guenzel, and the member he replaced, Jennifer S. Hall, were acknowledged by chair Joan Lowenstein – but neither was present. The board passed a resolution of appreciation for Hall’s service, and Lowenstein welcomed Guenzel “in absentia.”

Other business at Wednesday’s meeting included the usual updates from the board’s committees. Notable from the transportation committee was an effort to collaborate with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to enhance bus service between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. And from the partnerships committee came a summary of a presentation they’d received from the chief of police – there’s a difference between being statistically safe and the perception of safety. [Full Story]

County Offers $400K Match for Skatepark

On Tuesday night at their regular monthly meeting, the Washtenaw County parks and recreation commission unanimously authorized up to $400,000 in matching funds for a skatepark being developed by the Ann Arbor Skatepark Action Committee (AASAC). The future location of the skateboarding facility is planned for the northeast corner of Veterans Memorial Park on the city’s west side.

Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission

Three of nine parks and recreation commission members for Washtenaw County, who attended Tuesday's meeting. Front to back: Jimmie Maggard, Patricia Scribner and Robert Marans. Obscured is Bob Tetens, director of Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation. (Photos by the writer.)

The county’s parks and recreation program is funded by two separate, dedicated countywide tax levies at 0.25 mill apiece – for capital improvements and maintenance, respectively. The millages are separate from the county’s general operating millage.

The offer of matching funds came with the clear expectation from commissioners at the meeting that the county will be given its due – in terms of signage and participation in the project as it moves forward.

Bob Tetens, director of Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation, spoke at the meeting about the ability of the county to leverage the fundraising efforts of AASAC to achieve an $800,000 skatepark, instead of a $400,000 skatepark. For AASAC’s part, the plan all along was to build an $800,000 skatepark – plus establish a $200,000 endowment for maintenance.

The promised funds from the county will allow AASAC to leverage the match as part of their fundraising efforts. From that point of view, the timing of the county’s decision worked out to AASAC’s advantage. This Saturday, March 13, from noon-6 p.m. Red Belly Boardshop will sponsor The Grinds of March, a benefit for the Ann Arbor Skatepark fund to be held in a warehouse located at 704 Airport Blvd.

The Grinds will feature a pro skating demonstration by Garold Vallie and Andy MacDonald. MacDonald spent his summers in Ann Arbor, growing up skating.

The city of Ann Arbor has so far not offered dollars in support of the skatepark, but has approved use of the site, and struck a memorandum of understanding with AASAC. Ten out of 11 councilmembers also signed a letter dated March 8, 2010, urging the county’s parks and recreation commission to support the skatepark. [Full Story]

Skatepark Rolls Towards Design

kid in red helmet with skateboard about to launch down a bowl

Ready to launch from the lip of the Riley Skatepark in Farmington Hills, Michigan. (Photo by the writer)

Last Saturday, the Ann Arbor Skatepark Action Committee loaded up the french-fry-oil fueled BTB Party Bus with as many local decision-makers as it could find and steered a course for Farmington Hills.

They wanted to show city councilmembers, park advisory commissioners and staff planners first hand what a free concrete skatepark looked like.

The field trip itself was meant in part as fuel for the imagination as the committee rolls towards an Oct. 18 skatepark design workshop, which starts at 2 p.m. at Slauson Middle School, located at 1019 W. Washington. It’s free and open to the public.

The planned location for the park is the northeast corner of Veterans Memorial Park at the intersection of Maple Road and Dexter Avenue, on Ann Arbor’s west side.

Almost a year ago, at its Dec. 1, 2008 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council passed a memorandum of intent to develop a skatepark at the Veterans Park location. Now the question facing skatepark supporters is: Where’s the money for building and maintaining the skatepark going to come from? [Full Story]

West Park Renovations Get Fast-Tracked

A willow tree in West Park might not survive planned renovations. The parks bandshell, seen in the background, will stay.

This is one of nine black willow trees in West Park slated for removal as part of a planned park renovation. The historic bandshell, seen in the background, will stay. (Photo by the writer.)

The Chronicle last heard an update on improvements planned for West Park about a year ago, at a community meeting led by Amy Kuras, a landscape architect with the city. Kuras was also on hand at Tuesday’s meeting of the Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission – this time, to report that the project is being fast-tracked in hopes of getting federal stimulus funding.

In addition to being briefed on West Park, PAC commissioners got an update on the Ann Arbor Skatepark project. Trevor Staples, chair of the Skatepark Action Committee, reported on fundraising progress and said he’d be back at a later date to ask for financial support from the city. He also gave some details on an Oct. 18 design workshop that will be open to the public.

And Scott Rosencrans won an election – more on all of this after the break. [Full Story]

Skate Jam at Westgate


Any idea who this is?

Last Saturday, the Ann Arbor Skate Park Action Committee followed up its August Skate Jam with a September event. Laid out with a variety of portable ramps and obstacles, the cordoned-off area of Westgate Shopping Center drew more than a hundred skaters, plus some prominent politicos – a couple of them skaters, and some non-skaters.

As it turns out, the skater-politicos we saw on Saturday are not the ones Chronicle readers might be thinking of. Trevor Staples, member of the Ann Arbor Skatepark Action Committee, is also the newly-elected Democratic delegate for Precinct 4 in Ward 5. Trevor was still basking in the glow of his election to this post by dint of his four (possibly five) write-in votes. [Full Story]