DDA OKs Shelter Grant; Mulls Committees

Transportation also major topic of discussion

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Oct. 6, 2010): In its main business, the DDA board approved a $218,050 grant from its housing fund to The Shelter Association of Washtenaw County for improvements at the Delonis Center on Huron Street. The money will pay for new washers and dryers, lockers and chairs, an emergency generator, energy conservation measures, medical equipment and software. The board is still weighing approval of more than $113,210 for installation of solar panels and for computer hardware. By board policy, the DDA housing fund receives an annual $100,000 transfer from TIF (tax increment financing) revenues.


Left to right: DDA board chair Joan Lowenstein, and board members Gary Boren and Roger Hewitt. (Photo by the writer.)

Another main topic of discussion was transportation, which came in the context of recent transportation committee talks with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. The discussion with AATA dealt with the possible return of a downtown circulator service [formerly The LINK] and improved service to Ypsilanti, as well as an initial study of bicyclist habits in the downtown area. Related to bicyclists, the board heard from one downtown merchant during public commentary about dissatisfaction with the “art” bicycle hoops, as one example of the DDA’s lack of success in considering the end user in some of its decisions.

The board also mulled over a possible restructuring of its committee structure – currently the board has a transportation committee, a partnerships committee, an operations committee, and a capital improvements committee.

Restructuring those committees is being considered in the context of the possibility that the DDA could begin to take a more active role in development of city-owned surface parking lots downtown. That more active role is one possible outcome of the ongoing city-DDA discussions about the parking agreement under which the DDA operates the city’s parking system. The new structure under discussion would add an economic development and communications committee, while merging the operations and capital improvements committees.

Shelter Association Grant

During the time allotted for public commentary, Diane Neering of The Shelter Association of Washtenaw County told the board that she was available to answer any questions about the grant that the board would be considering.

The grant is for $218,050 to be awarded from the DDA’s housing fund to The Shelter Association of Washtenaw County for improvements at the Delonis Center on Huron Street. By board policy, the DDA housing fund receives an annual $100,000 transfer from TIF. The money awarded to the shelter will pay for new washers and dryers, lockers and chairs, an emergency generator, energy conservation measures, medical equipment and software. The recommendation to award the grant came from the DDA’s partnerships committee, which discussed the issue at its last meeting.

At the partnerships committee meeting, the consensus reached by members was that they should proceed with the recommendation for the $218,050 worth of improvements, while holding in abeyance the approval of more than $113,210 for installation of solar panels and for computer hardware at the shelter.

Committee members had concerns about the length of the payback period for the solar panels, which appeared to be much longer than the kind of payback on investments the DDA is familiar with in connection with its energy saving grant program. That’s a program to help fund energy audits for downtown property owners, as well as various energy improvements. In his update on the energy saving grant program at Wednesday’s meeting, Russ Collins summarized the program as 64 energy audits completed, with another 27 underway. He said 21 buildings having implemented improvements as part of the second phase of the program. The average payback on those improvements, Collins said, is 3.1 years.

During deliberations on the grant, mayor John Hieftje noted that the grant was in keeping with past practice, and noted that the DDA had awarded additional money to the shelter last year to allow the purchase of additional beds to add spaces to the shelter’s warming center.

Joan Lowenstein stressed that the money being allocated was to fund infrastructure improvements, not operations. In response to a question from DDA board member Bob Guenzel, about whether Washtenaw County had been apprised of the grant request, Ellen Schulmeister, executive director of the shelter association, rose to the podium and told Guenzel that the county had been consulted. Lowenstein quipped that “You can take the boy outta the county, but you can’t take the county outta the boy” – an allusion to Guenzel’s longtime service, until earlier this year, as Washtenaw County administrator.

Outcome: The board voted unanimously to approve the grant for the shelter for $218,050 worth of improvements.

Economic Development

The theme of economic development serves to tie together three separate meeting items.

Economic Development: Library Lot

Part of every DDA meeting includes a report from DDA board members who are representing the DDA on other task forces and committees.

At Wednesday’s meeting, John Splitt told told the board that the Library Lot RFP review committee had not met since the last board meeting. At the September DDA board meeting, Splitt had reported that the committee had not met since the spring, but that the recent hire of a consultant meant that the two proposals were still being considered – out of six that were submitted. From September’s Chronicle meeting report:

[Carsten] Hohnke’s suggestion, made at a Democratic primary election forum, was that consideration of the Library Lot be restarted as a blank slate, with no preconceptions. An underground parking garage is currently under construction on the parcel, and a city-led committee is handling the review of proposals that were submitted for the lot last year. [Chronicle coverage: "Hotel/Conference Center Proposals Go Forward"]

At Wednesday’s DDA board meeting, John Splitt reported out from the committee that’s reviewing proposals for development of the parcel above the underground parking garage – he represents the DDA on the committee, which includes city staff as well as councilmembers Margie Teall and Stephen Rapundalo. Rapundalo chairs that committee.

Splitt gave essentially the same kind of update on the committee that Rapundalo has given his city council colleagues at recent meetings. The committee has not met in about four months, Splitt said. A consultant [Roxbury Group] has been hired and is doing due diligence on the two proposals that are still under consideration. The consultant’s meetings with the proposers should be concluded in time for the committee to meet sometime towards the end of September, Splitt said.

Economic Development: City-DDA Mutually Beneficial Discussions

Roger Hewitt reported out from the ongoing conversations between the city and the DDA about the parking agreement under which the DDA manages the city’s parking system. Hewitt’s remarks were parallel to those of Ward 3 councilmember Christopher Taylor, at the council’s Oct. 4 meeting two days prior. Hewitt said that executive director Susan Pollay and the DDA’s legal counsel, Jerry Lax, would begin drafting amendments to the current parking agreement. There is general agreement on the idea of the DDA playing a more active role in the development of downtown city-owned parking lots, Hewitt said. Taylor’s remarks, as reported in The Chronicle:

At Monday’s council meeting, Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) who serves on the council’s committee that is engaged in the negotiations, gave an update on their status. He said the conversations have moved away from the idea of the DDA taking responsibility for enforcement of parking regulations to focus on reworking the language of the existing agreement and the idea that the DDA would become the implementation engine for development of city-owned surface parking lots in the downtown. He alerted his colleagues to the likelihood of a city council work session when the DDA would present their concept for implementation of DDA-led development.

On the DDA’s side, the idea of DDA-led development has increasingly included some notion of “economic development.” [Recent Chronicle coverage of the ongoing city-DDA negotiations: "DDA: Dogged Enough for Development?"] As the DDA prepares for the possibility of taking a more active role in the redevelopment of downtown Ann Arbor, the board has also begun to consider how to accommodate that role in its committee structure.

Economic Development: Committee Structure

Board chair Joan Lowenstein presented for initial discussion – not for any kind of final decision – a possible restructuring of the board’s committees. Currently the board has a transportation committee, a partnerships committee, an operations committee, and a capital improvements committee.

Out of the board’s retreat held last month came the idea of including an economic development committee in the mix. But Lowenstein drew an analogy to her household’s approach to purchases made at the Ann Arbor art fairs – if you buy something, something else has to go. So adding an economic development committee is intended to be offset by a merger of the operations and capital improvements committees.

There has also been recent discussion of adding a communications committee, so the idea is to charge the new committee with the responsibility of economic development as well as communications issues. The resulting committee configuration would be:

  • merged operations/capital improvements committee: review financial statements; formulate budget; oversee parking operations; oversee parking agreement with the city; oversee construction.
  • transportation committee: review getDowntown projects; personal transportation issues (bicycle parking, scooter parking, walkability); mass transit projects (coordination with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority).
  • partnerships committee: oversee DDA projects involving other entities like the city of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan; housing fund expenditures; energy saving grant program; coordination with city council and the city’s planning commission.
  • economic development/communications: background research for downtown redevelopment; inventory of city-owned sites; hiring of real estate experts and other consultants; facilitate process for development (public process and with the city council); assemble information on downtown’s assets for inclusion in promotional efforts of Ann Arbor SPARK.

Board member Russ Collins said the sketch of the committee structure Lowenstein had provided sounded reasonable. He cautioned that the committee structure needs to match the resources of staff. John Mouat stated that he was “thrilled” with it, and echoed Collins sentiment that there needs to be adequate staff support for that structure and it needs to be implemented step by step.

A merger of the capital improvements committee and the operations committee would mean that the chairs of the two committees – John Splitt and Roger Hewitt, respectively – would need to work something out. The idea of using co-chairs was discussed, which is parallel to the practice of the current partnerships committee, which is co-chaired by Sandi Smith and Russ Collins. Hewitt quipped that he’d like to name the merged committees the “bricks and money” committee.

In connection to the function of the communications committee, John Hieftje asked what the publicity efforts had been like for the “early bird special” parking deal on the very top of the Fourth and William parking deck. [After the meeting, Mark Lyons, general manager of Republic Parking, explained to The Chronicle that the rate for the deal is $5 if someone comes in before 9 a.m., with a departure between 3-6 p.m.] Susan Pollay, executive director of the DDA, indicated that the DDA had not increased publicity efforts for the deal, but rather was anticipating that the DDA would engage the city council more fully on the topic of parking strategies after submission of its parking report at the council’s April 19, 2010 meeting.

The conversation on the “early bird special” had actually begun during the report out from the operations committee, when Mouat had also inquired about how it had been publicized. Hewitt indicated that it was being promoted through the getDowntown program, and through handouts at the payment booths at other parking structures. Splitt quipped that the program was also being promoted by their board meeting, alluding to “the thousands of people who are watching this.” [The DDA board meetings are not broadcast live, but are taped and can be viewed online via CTN's video-on-demand service.]

In making the case for an economic development committee, Lowenstein said the idea had been reinforced for board members who had attended a recent International Downtown Association convention in Fort Worth.

IDA Convention

In past years, the DDA has budgeted $30,000 for attendance at the International Downtown Association convention. This year, it reduced the allocation to $15,000, by not funding attendance by city councilmembers or representatives of downtown merchant associations. Those who attended the conference in Fort Worth from Oct. 1-5, funded by the DDA, were executive director Susan Pollay and board members Gary Boren, Joan Lowenstein, Keith Orr and Sandi Smith. According to an email sent by Pollay in response to a Chronicle question, cost estimates per person, including conference fees, hotel, and flight were $2,400 each, for a total of $12,000.

Separately, the State Street Area Association paid to send a staff member and three SSAA board members to the IDA conferance: Tom Heywood, Bob Livingston, Rich Bellas and John Splitt. Splitt is a DDA board member, but his costs were covered by the SSAA, not the DDA.


The conversation on transportation included discussion of partnerships with the AATA, as well as a study of bicyclist habits.

Transportation: AATA – Ypsi and The LINK

In his report out from the transportation committee, John Mouat said that the transportation committee had had conversations with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority on two specific initiatives.

The first is enhanced service between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. The AATA has developed a set of different service enhancements, ranging from more frequent service on existing routes, to express service that would reduce travel times on existing routes. Mouat described the challenge of enhancing service as “very complex.” What would the DDA be trying to accomplish – more frequent service, service on weekends, service later in the evening?

Mouat said that Ypsilanti Township has more residents who work in Ann Arbor than does the city of Ypsilanti – that has an impact on how you approach creating a hub, Mouat said. He also stressed that it was important to work with partners on the service enhancements – Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, and the University of Michigan. Mouat noted that UM is the AATA’s biggest customer.

Susan Pollay, executive director of the DDA, noted that the ridership on Route #4 between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti indicated that there is a clear demand – twice the demand on any other route. Mouat added that service enhancement between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti would be viewed by the AATA in the context of the countywide transit master plan it is currently developing.

Mayor John Hieftje noted that there is a ballot initiative on the city of Ypsilanti ballot on Nov. 2 for a millage to support transit. [The city of Ann Arbor has a transit tax levied at roughly 2 mills. Service to other communities is provided by AATA through purchase of service agreements (POSAs). Shortages in the city of Ypsilanti budget resulted in the AATA's use of federal money to make up the difference in what Ypsilanti paid and the cost of operating the service.] Hieftje expressed an interest in seeing transit speeded up for individuals between the two communities.

Hieftje also expressed his optimism about the future of east-west commuter rail. He gave essentially the same update he’d given at the city council’s meeting two days prior. From The Chronicle’s meeting report of the Oct. 4, 2010 city council meeting:

Hieftje expressed his optimism about the project eventually becoming a reality, based on the amount of money the federal government is investing in rail transportation through the ARRA stimulus program. At SEMCOG’s Oct. 28 meeting – to be held at 4:30 p.m. at the Henry Ford, Hieftje announced, the refurbished railcars to be used for the service will be on display. They’re double-decker stainless steel cars.An excursion service would be offered to Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day parade, as well as to the Big Chill, a hockey game at Michigan Stadium between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, scheduled for Dec. 11. Hieftje also mentioned the possibility of excursion trains scheduled for the Ann Arbor art fairs. He cautioned, though, that there would not suddenly be commuter rail service – it would be built layer by layer.

Mouat also reported that Roger Hewitt and Keith Orr had sketched out a concept for a fairly robust service for a reconstituted LINK – a circulator service that previously was operated in the downtown area. That service was funded in a collaboration between the DDA, the University of Michigan, and the AATA. [Chronicle readers may remember the purple vehicles that provided the service.] The robust concept sketched by Hewitt and Orr, Mouat said, included service at 5-minute intervals, 12 months a year, 18 hours a day, and the cost estimates that had come back from the AATA were equally robust. They are now thinking about what modifications to the concept could be made.

Transportation: Bicyclist Study

Mouat also reported out from a study done during the spring and fall of 2010 by a DDA intern on bicycle use in the downtown. Among the findings of that study:

Far more bikes were counted on hoops/racks than on other street features – 1,249 of 1, 565 bikes counted (80%).

When asked how much do you plan on spending today – the average response was $21.43.

When asked how often in the last month have you ridden your bike – 88% reported riding multiple times a week or daily downtown.

When asked why they use their bikes instead of another mode and why they choose bike parking locations – the majority of respondents reported convenience.

When asked how often do you ride on the sidewalks – 80% reported riding only sometimes (for example, when on the Diag), rarely, or never. Those who reported riding always or frequently cited fear of riding in the roads due to cars traveling at high speeds, poor bike lanes, and a lack of confidence in their own abilities.

Russ Collins took the occasion of Mouat’s report on the bicycling study to note that the DDA tried to approach things in a statistical way, not relying only on anecdotal reports. He noted that decisions are based not on the “whim of a board” but rather on data and research.

Collins was responding to some comments that came during public commentary that had criticized the “art” bike hoop initiative, among other DDA projects. Collins said he appreciated the speaker’s point of view, and it’s taken very seriously by the board. He concluded that it is not only the statistical or only the anecdotal reports that are important.

Critique of DDA Initiatives

During public commentary at the start of the meeting, Ali Ramlawi, the owner of Jerusalem Garden, gave the board his perspective as a downtown business owner and a Ward 5 resident of the city, on some of the DDA’s work. Noting the “civil engineering project” that was going on next to his restaurant – the Fifth Avenue underground parking garage – he said he felt a little slighted about the process. He told the board that he and many others he talks to are increasingly unhappy with the direction downtown Ann Arbor is going. He told the board he thought they had the best intentions, but that they were not always successful.


Ali Ramlawi, owner of Jerusalem Garden, leafs through his notes before addressing the DDA board.

As examples, Ramlawi gave the “art” bike hoops, saying that they are not practical. People lock their bikes to trees, poles, and sign posts, instead of the new bike hoops, he said. The new ePark stations are another example of an unsuccessful project, he said. He’s on the street, he said, and hears from hundreds of customers every day – the new ePark stations are confusing, he said. With the old meters, it was simple – you pop a few quarters in the meter, then go do what you need to do. Now there’s typically one person who’s never used the new stations before and you have to wait in line to use the station.

Ramlawi’s four minutes of speaking time expired as he was critiquing the new bump-out on the northwest corner of Liberty and Division streets. He reiterated his feeling that the board has the best intentions, but the result is not necessarily successful.

Ramlawi’s Jerusalem Garden was a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in August 2009 about the Fifth Avenue underground parking garage, which is now under construction. That suit was settled without going to trial, with the city committing to the completion of an environmental study.

Operations: Parking

The main event for the operations committee report each month is typically the set of parking numbers. [.pdf of parking numbers extracted from the board's meeting packet] The board reviewed August 2010 compared to August 2009. System-wide this year for the month of August showed revenues of $1,142,086, compared with $1,155,723 last year, for a decrease of $13,638. The number of hourly patrons decreased to 178,940 from 188,373 for a drop of 9,433.

The fact that the Library Lot, with its 192 spaces, is not currently available for parking accounts for some of the decreases. The Fifth Avenue underground parking garage is currently under construction on that lot. Last August those spaces accounted for $37,741 in revenue and 20,780 hourly patrons.

Hewitt attributed the decrease in revenue from meter bags to the completion of construction on the university’s North Quad dormitory at Huron and State. Meter bags – which are literal bags placed over the heads of parking meters, preventing parking there – are commonly paid for in conjunction with construction projects, which need guaranteed open parking spaces for construction site deliveries and the like.

John Mouat inquired whether it is now possible to track usage of on-street meters by the length of stay and the hours they are in use, and Hewitt confirmed that is the case. Asked what percentage of ePark users paid with a credit card, Mark Lyons, general manager of Republic Parking, indicated it’s roughly 50% who pay with a credit card.

In response to a graph depicting increasing revenues for the parking system from just under $12 million in 2005 to more than $14 million in 2010, board member Gary Boren asked how much of the increase can be attributed to the rate increases compared to increased patronage. Hewitt replied that it’s important to note that the initial rate increases during that period for street parking were offset with decreases in the structure. In response to Boren’s question, Hewitt said if he had to guess he’d say it was 50-50 – half the revenue increase could be attributed to rate increases, and half to increased patronage.

Another graph included in the packet showed an increase in hourly patrons from 214,218 in 2008, to 392,412 in 2009, to 486,204 in 2010. Susan Pollay, executive director of the DDA, pointed out that this trend, together with the increased number of bus rides taken into the downtown by users of go!passes – a program that subsidizes bus rides for downtown workers – showed an overall increasing demand for people to be downtown.

Capital Improvements: Update on the Hole

John Splitt reported out from the capital improvements committee that the earth retention work for the Fifth Avenue underground parking garage is now complete. That means that the giant auger used for drilling the holes for the vertical steel is now offsite, he said. The “mass excavation” is now 85% complete, he reported. De-watering of the site has been “somewhat of an issue,” he said, but that’s being worked on with the city.

Splitt reported that 16 additional on-street parking spaces had now been created on Fifth Avenue in connection with the Fifth-Division streetscape improvement project. Construction work on that project would be complete for the season on Nov. 15, he said.

Downtown Citizens Advisory Council Report: Panhandling and Peace Corps

Ray Detter reported out for the Downtown Citizens Advisory Council. The group meets on the Tuesday evening before the monthly board meeting of the DDA, which falls on the first Wednesday of the month.

CAC: Panhandling

Detter told the board that the CAC was pleased with the re-establishment of the panhandling task force by the city council. [The council established the task force at its Sept. 20, 2010 meeting and added two additional members at its Oct. 4, 2010 meeting. The task force is charged with working for six months to identify cost-effective ways of enforcing the existing ordinance and of providing appropriate assistance to those who are panhandling.]

Detter said that the creation of the task force had already started discussion in the community. He noted that much of the issue involves perception, but pointed out that perception usually has an element of reality. He said that the task force would not be starting with the assumption that the solution is to have more police. He reported some discussion at the meeting of the possibility that the state law had changed with respect to panhandling and that it might be possible to ban it outright.

By way of background, Ann Arbor’s ordinance restricts locations – it’s not allowed near ATMs, for example – and the manner in which people can be approached:

9:70. Solicitation.
Except as otherwise provided in Chapters 79 and 81 of this Code, it shall be unlawful for any person to solicit the immediate payment of money or goods from another person, whether or not in exchange for goods, services, or other consideration, under any of the following circumstances:
1. On private property, except as otherwise permitted by Chapters 79 and 81, unless the solicitor has permission from the owner or occupant;
2. In any public transportation vehicle or public transportation facility;
3. In any public parking structure and within 12 feet of any entrance or exit to any public parking structure;
4. From a person who is in any vehicle on the street;
5. By obstructing the free passage of pedestrian or vehicle traffic;
6. Within 12 feet of a bank or automated teller machine;
7. By moving to within 2 feet of the person solicited, unless that person has indicated that he/she wishes to be solicited;
8. By following and continuing to solicit a person who walks away from the solicitor;
9. By knowingly making a false or misleading representation in the course of a solicitation;
10. In a manner that appears likely to cause a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities to feel intimidated, threatened or harassed;
11. Within 12 feet of the entrance to or exit from the Nickels Arcade, located between State Street and Maynard Street; the Galleria, located between S. University and the Forest Street parking structure; and the Pratt Building, located between Main Street and the Ashley parking lot; or
12. From a person who is a patron at any outdoor cafe or restaurant.

Before the start of the Thursday, Oct. 7 meeting of the Main Street Area Association, in conversation with The Chronicle, MSAA executive director Maura Thomson and Ward 2 city councilmember Tony Derezinski indicated they were looking at what other cities are doing with respect to panhandling. Derezinski said he didn’t think the state law had changed anywhere at the statutory level, but that perhaps there’d been new court cases that potentially had a bearing on the issue. He said that mayor John Hieftje had asked him to do some background research on the question – Dereziski’s professional background is in municipal law.

Thomson has gathered some other communities’ ordinances on panhandling: East Lansing, Petoskey, Birmingham, Royal Oak in Michigan, as well as Madison, Wisc. Excerpts from those ordinances:

[E. Lansing]
Sec. 26-52. Prohibited acts.
No person shall: …
(5) Beg in any public place.

Sec. 12-2. Begging.
Any person who wanders about and begs in the streets, or from house to house or sits, stands or takes a position in any place and begs from passerby, either by words gestures or by the exhibiting of a sign shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

74-2. Begging
It shall be unlawful for any person within the city to beg in a public place from passersby, either by words, gestures or by the exhibiting of a sign.

[Royal Oak]
§ 278-45 Loitering.
A person commits the offense of loitering if he or she:
A. Loiters, remains or wanders about in a public place for the purpose of begging;

[Madison, Wisc.]
(4) In or near any thoroughfare or place open to the public, no person either individually or as part of a group shall procure or attempt to procure a handout from another in an aggressive or intimidating manner. Among the circumstances which may be considered in determining whether such purpose or behavior is manifested are the following: that such person is a known panhandler; that such person continues to beckon to, accost or follow or ask passer(s)-by for a handout after the passer(s)-by has failed to respond or has told the person “no”; that such person engages in a course of conduct or commits any act which harasses or intimidates the passer(s)-by: or that such person utilizes or attempts to utilize bodily gestures or physical contact to impede the path of any passer(s)-by, including but not limited to unwanted touching or blocking the path or impeding the free movement of the passer(s)-by. The violator’s conduct must be such as to demonstrate a specific intent to induce, solicit, or procure from another goods or money by aggressive or intimidating behavior. No arrest shall be made for a violation of this subsection unless the arresting officer first affords such person an opportunity to explain such conduct, and no one shall be convicted of violating this subsection if it appears at trial that the explanation given was true and disclosed a lawful purpose.

[A "known panhandler" is defined by the city code as: "a person who within one year previous to the date of arrest for violation of this section has been convicted in a court of competent jurisdiction of any civil or criminal offense involving panhandling."]

In his remarks before the DDA board on Wednesday, Detter said that based on conversations with organizations responsible for meeting the needs of homeless people, and for providing food to those who need it, he didn’t think that anyone needed to go hungry in the community. Soliciting money on the street based on hunger, he concluded, is a misrepresentation. He concluded his remarks on the topic by saying, “We’re not out to get anybody.”

CAC: Peace Corps

Detter also called the board’s attention to an event on Oct. 14 at 10:30 a.m. – a 15-minute program in front of the University of Michigan Union to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a speech given by John F. Kennedy in the early morning hours of Oct. 14 in 1960. The speech is pointed to as outlining the basic concept behind the Peace Corps. [The university is also planning a 1 a.m. event, one at 2 a.m. as well as one at 11 a.m.] Detter noted that the event would be receiving national attention, and that Gov. Granholm would be in attendance.

The 10:30 event will be a dedication of the installation of a new historical street exhibit on the east side of State Street, across from the Michigan Union, commemorating Kennedy’s speech. Ann Arbor’s historical street exhibits are coordinated by Detter – new exhibits are installed on an ongoing basis. Some of the exhibits are affixed to building walls, while others are constructed of etched glass panels mounted between poles.

In a phone interview with The Chronicle a few days after the DDA board meeting, Detter estimated the cost of a single street exhibit at $15,000. He noted that the DDA had provided $30,000 several years ago to help get the program started and that the county had contributed around $6,000 in connection with one of the exhibits involving the county government – county commissioner Leah Gunn and then county administrator Bob Guenzel had been instrumental in that, Detter said.

Present: Gary Boren, Bob Guenzel, Roger Hewitt, John Hieftje, John Splitt, Leah Gunn, Russ Collins, Keith Orr, Joan Lowenstein, John Mouat

Absent: Newcombe Clark, Sandi Smith

Next board meeting: Noon on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010, at the DDA offices, 150 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 301. [confirm date]


  1. By Peter Zetlin
    October 10, 2010 at 10:26 am | permalink

    What does the graph of “5-­‐Year Increase in Hourly Parking Patrons” show? It indicates that there were roughly 100,000 hourly patrons in 2006 and almost 500,000 in 2010.

    Is an hourly patron a car that doesn’t park in a space rented monthly? Whatever it is, it’s hard to see that any sort of parking has increased by a factor of five during the last few years.

  2. By Chris Proebsting
    October 10, 2010 at 7:41 pm | permalink

    Why worrying about introducing better bus service between Ypsi and Ann Arbor if a functioning railway could do the job in 10min? It’s nice to have buses between both cities, but a train that runs every 30min would be much faster, more convenient and probably less expensive.

    And what about the bike survey? What are the next steps? What is the data used for?

  3. October 11, 2010 at 9:15 am | permalink

    Chris – I’m a strong advocate for the commuter rail, both for the Ann Arbor – Ypsi movement as well as for connecting points further east and west (and north and south, via Wally).

    However, the process of establishing a new passenger rail survice is a long, difficult process – nationwide, I believe the “typical” process takes 8-12 years of planning work.

    While we work through it, though (and we’re in the home stretch at this point), we’ve got needs now. I’m not a daily rider, but do use all of the A2-Ypsi routes for various trips (3, 4, 5, 6), and the AATA ridership numbers certainly match what I see on the routes – the #4 at standing-room capacity, and the others filling most of the seats for hours a day. This while many people along those routes continue to say they don’t ride because the routes’ speed, timing, etc don’t fit their travel needs.

    Enhancements to the bus service can be done relatively quickly and easily (and cheaply) while we continue to work down the rail path – and should not be considering a competing option. It’s not an “or” so much as “in order to” – by continuing to build the travel options available to people, and particularly by demonstrating the unmet demand by surfacing it with enhanced service, the bus system helps support the implementation of the rail service.