Grant Applications Recommended for 721 N. Main

The Ann Arbor park advisory commission has voted to recommend applying for two grants related to the city-owned 721 N. Main property. PAC took the action on Dec. 4, 2012, before its land acquisition committee meeting.

The grants would come from the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission’s Connecting Communities program, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources trust fund. No amounts were indicated in the resolutions that were approved by PAC, but up to $300,000 could be requested from the state, and at least that much could be requested from the county. The amounts in the applications will be determined after a phase 2 environmental assessment is completed later this year. That environmental study will give the city a clearer indication of how much it will cost to remediate the site.

Both grants would focus on the roughly 2.5 acres of the 5-acre site that are in the floodway. The grant from the county would be used for constructing non-motorized trails, while the state grant would be used for general park improvements. If the county funds are received, they might count as matching funds for the state grant. Several city staff members – including community services area administrator Sumedh Bahl and Connie Pulcipher of the city’s systems planning unit – were on hand at the Dec. 4 PAC meeting to give an overview of the project and answer questions.

Deadlines to apply for the grants are driving the timing of this process. Applications for Connecting Communities must be received by year’s end, and the city council – which has only one more meeting this year, on Dec. 17 – must authorize any application. The MDNR trust fund grant application is due at the end of March 2013.

More generally, the city’s North Main/Huron River corridor task force is developing a recommendation to bring to the city council on Dec. 17. According to a memo from Colin Smith, the city’s parks and recreation manager, the task force recommendation is expected to focus on converting the floodway portion of that site to a park use. Trails would give access to the site from Felch, Summit, and Main streets, and “would also create a first step in a greenway with a vision toward connecting to the Huron River and the Border-to-Border trail network.”

The land around the trails would be wet meadow, prairie grass, and other storm water management features. Other possible uses for the non-floodway portion of the site might include a dog park or community gardens. The possibility of using a portion of the 721 N. Main site as a dog park was most recently discussed at PAC’s Oct. 16, 2012 meeting.

The North Main/Huron River task force is expected to vote on its overall recommendation for the 721 N. Main site at a task force meeting on Dec. 5, 2012. That task force has a broader mandate than just the 721 N. Main site, and is charged with bringing a recommendation on the corridor itself – including future uses of the MichCon property between the Huron River and the railroad tracks – by summer 2013.

This brief was filed from the second-floor city council workroom at city hall, where the park advisory commission meeting was held.