PAC Wants More Downtown Green Space

On a 7-2 vote, Ann Arbor’s park advisory commission passed a resolution urging the city council to get more input for a possible downtown park. The action, taken at PAC’s Sept. 18, 2012 meeting, comes in response to a request from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, which had asked park commissioners for input on the Connecting William Street project. That effort is focused on developing a plan for five city-owned properties along William Street, between Ashley and Division. Four of the parcels are surface parking lots; the fifth is a parking structure at Fourth & William.

Voting against the resolution were two of PAC’s newest members: Ingrid Ault and Bob Galardi. Galardi also serves on the DDA’s leadership and outreach committee for the Connecting William Street project.

PAC members previously had a lengthy discussion on the issue at their land acquisition committee meeting earlier this month. [See Chronicle coverage: "Park Commissioners: More Green, Please."] They concluded that the possible development scenarios being floated by the DDA did not include sufficient green space or parkland.

That sentiment was included in the Sept. 18 resolution, which recommends that the council seek additional input from city staff regarding the evaluation of locations for a downtown park, the best mix of amenities for the population expected to use a downtown park, and the costs of developing and maintaining a new addition to the parks system. PAC also recommends that the council refrain from adopting plans for the five city-owned lots before resolving the question  about open space in the Connecting William Street area.

At PAC’s Sept. 18 meeting, several members of the Library Green Conservancy – advocates of creating a commons on top of the Library Lane underground parking structure – spoke during public commentary. [The Library Lane site is one of the five properties included in the Connecting William Street project.] They urged commissioners to support their plan for a park at that location, adjacent to the library. The underground structure was built with a foundation to support a high-rise building on the site, in addition to a plaza area.

This brief was filed from the second floor council chambers at city hall, where PAC holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]