Parks Group Discusses Skating Rink Proposal

At their March 19, 2013 meeting, Ann Arbor park advisory commissioners discussed a proposal to build an ice-skating rink atop a portion of the city-owned Library Lane underground parking structure. They took no action on the item, but were briefed on the proposal by two advocates of the effort: Alan Haber and Stewart Gordon.

Commissioners have been lobbied about the project during public commentary at previous meetings, most recently on Feb. 26, 2013. At that meeting, Haber – one of the organizers of the Library Green Conservancy – told commissioners that he hoped PAC could make a statement as a body or individually to the city council, urging them to give the rink a try for just two months. A written proposal presented to PAC on March 19 again states the request for PAC support, as rink organizers seek $25,000 in matching funds from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. [.pdf of rink proposal]

The proposal provided to PAC includes a list of “local supporters and consultants,” including John Fingerle of Fingerle Lumber, Mark Hodesh of Downtown Home & Garden, Carol Lopez of Peaceable Kingdom, Elaine Selo of Selo/Shevel Gallery, and Craig Forsyth of the Ann Arbor Figure Skating Club, among others. The plan calls for building a 32-foot by 72-foot temporary artificial ice rink on the northwest corner of the Library Lane lot, at an estimated cost of $50,000. An “in-kind” contribution of 15 parking spaces, which the rink would cover, is also requested.

The downtown building of the Ann Arbor District Library is adjacent to the site, although the library has no ownership of the parcel. At the AADL board’s March 18, 2013 meeting, Gordon spoke briefly during public commentary asking for the board’s support on this project. He provided a handout regarding the project that’s similar to the one presented to PAC. There was no discussion or response from library board members during the meeting.

At PAC’s March 19 meeting, Christopher Taylor – a city councilmember who serves as an ex officio member of PAC – was interested in hearing how AADL board members and staff felt about the ice rink. Gordon indicated that some individual board members are very supportive, but the board as a whole hasn’t weighed in. He said the impact on the library would be minimal – an estimated average of two people per hour using the library restroom, for example. Haber added that in general, the library is reluctant to get involved with the Library Lane site.

This brief was filed from the second-floor council chambers at city hall, located at 301 E. Huron, where PAC holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]