County Preps to Buy More Natural Areas

Purchases would add to Fox Science Preserve and protect land near Pittsfield Preserve; also, more farmland preservation in the works

Washtenaw County parks and recreation commission meeting (April 9, 2013): The April meeting, which director Bob Tetens forecast would be “the long-promised very short meeting between our busy seasons,” saw WCPARC take the first step to acquire more properties in two locations for the county’s natural areas preservation program (NAPP). The group also heard a report from the Legacy Land Conservancy about a second round of farmland preservation through a NAPP program that the conservancy helps administer.

Fox Science Preserve, Washtenaw County parks and recreation commission, natural areas preservation program, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

The entrance to Fox Science Preserve in Scio Township. An additional four acres might be added to the county preserve, which is frequently used for environmental education and field study. (Photos by the writer.)

The first proposed acquisition for NAPP was the four-acre Jarskey property in Scio Township, which would become part of the Fox Science Preserve. That preserve lies east of Peters Road and north of Miller. Tom Freeman, retired deputy director of WCPARC and consultant on NAPP matters, briefed commissioners on the proposal. He highlighted two ponds on the property, and the popularity of the former gravel pit for educational purposes. Commissioners ultimately authorized preparation of a purchase offer at $14,285 an acre – or a total of $57,140.

The other NAPP proposal was for four wooded parcels totaling about 18 acres in Pittsfield Township, on the north side of Michigan Avenue roughly across from the Pittsfield Township offices. The value of this property, according to Freeman, is in the quality of the woods and the adjacency to the 535-acre Pittsfield Preserve. Commissioners authorized preparation of purchase offers of $390,000 for two of the properties, and $150,000 for the two other parcels – a total of $540,000.

Also at the April 9 meeting, Robin Burke – land protection coordinator for the Legacy Land Conservancy – briefed commissioners on the process used by the agricultural lands preservation advisory committee (ALPAC) to prioritize possible farmland preservation through the purchase of development rights. There were 72 applications for consideration, totaling 6,500 acres. This is the second round of potential deals that the county is weighing. The initial round was closed in March of 2013, protecting a total of 206 areas of farmland in the Bailo Family Partnership and Trust.

The commission also received reports on its finances, use of its facilities, and ongoing maintenance and improvement of WCPARC buildings and land.

NAPP Acquisitions

A countywide 10-year, 0.25-mill tax first was approved by voters in 2000 for natural areas preservation, then renewed in 2010. The millage brings in about $3 million annually, and over the years the county has acquired more than 2,200 acres of land and established 17 new nature preserves, which are open to the public. At WCPARC’s April 9 meeting, two possible acquisition projects were considered.

NAPP Acquisitions: Jarskey Property

Tom Freeman gave a presentation on the four-acre Jarskey parcel in Scio Township, located immediately north of the county’s Fox Science Preserve. The preserve is already a very popular site for classes from middle school through college for field study and environmental education, Freeman said, likening it to “an outside science lab.” The Jarskey family had approached WCPARC about this property in November 2012. [.pdf of staff memo on Jarskey property]

As with all NAPP acquisitions, the process requires the owner to express interest in WCPARC acquiring property; WCPARC does not initiate such purchases. Freeman told commissioners that WCPARC staff and members of the natural areas technical advisory committee (NATAC) visited the property and identified it as a high priority.

Jarskey, Fox Science Preserve, Scio Township, Washtenaw County parks and recreation, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of the Jarskey property (outlined in red) adjacent to Fox Science Preserve in Scio Township.

Freeman said that WCPARC previously had purchased land from the family – a former “extraction site” (gravel pit), as well as another 20 acres that helped provide access to the preserve. The current parcel under consideration contains two ponds, created by the extraction process. The ponds, he said, are “very attractive. People are always attracted to open water, and these have spring peepers at this time of year.” He went on to say that attraction to the ponds has created “something of a trespass problem” that acquiring the land would eliminate.

Freeman noted that in the current economy, a site like this would be very popular for residential high-end housing in Washtenaw County. He showed a slide of a large pond with the bluff face in the background, new trees, and other emergent vegetation. Freeman described the ponds as 4-6 feet deep, with fish. He pointed out that there were lots of large boulders on the site “because they don’t make very good road base.” [The pit’s gravel was used in building I-94]. He also called out the silhouettes of high-end houses built along the edge of the pit, reminding commissioners that the property is less than three miles from Ann Arbor’s city limits and in an area popular for housing.

Bosserd Appraisal Services, Freeman said, set a value of $14,285 an acre, for a total of $57,140. Staff’s recommendation was that WCPARC authorize preparation of a purchase offer, contingent on completion of all necessary due diligence and final approval by the commission.

NAPP Acquisitions: Jarskey Property – Commission Discussion

Jan Anschuetz led off the discussion by recalling that the county got a contribution from the city of Ann Arbor for the original 50-acre purchase from the Jarskey family. “What about this one – could we get help?” she asked. Freeman’s response: “We elected not to do this for just 4 acres. This is very desirable land.” Anschuetz agreed, and recalled a recent visit to the Fox Science Preserve: “It’s incredible, just like going to the bottom of Lake Huron. It’s especially gorgeous at this time of year, with the peepers.”

Bob Marans, president of WCPARC, wondered how much money was available for these purchases. WCPARC director Bob Tetens referred to the current financial report, which showed a fund balance of $13 million. Marans’ response: “We have a lot of money, but we don’t really have an overall plan, do we?”

“Yes, we very much do have a plan,” Tetens replied, to which Marans said, “We have a priority list.”

Freeman jumped in, saying that Marans had raised a very good point. When NAPP began in late 2002 and 2003, the county publicized the program a lot. After that, he said, they adopted a stance of waiting for people to offer their property for purchase, rather than making a plan about what areas of the county WCPARC would like to preserve.

Marans suggested that at some point, it would be good to have a planning session. “We are being opportunistic,” he said. Instead, commissioners need to consider whether to add on to sites that the county already owns, or move into different areas of the county.

Janis Bobrin indicated support for the idea, and suggested including members of NATAC in the discussion.

This prompted Anschuetz to ask, “When are we going to hear more about the property on the Washtenaw County line?” [This was a reference to the Trolz property west of Manchester, in the southwest corner of the county. It's the site of a proposed new state recreation area that was discussed at the Nov. 13, 2012 WCPARC meeting. The proposal was to partner with the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources to acquire a total of 2,160 acres straddling the border of Jackson and Washtenaw counties.]

Freeman indicated that Coy Vaughn, deputy director of WCPARC, would update commissioners later in the meeting about that project, but that did not happen. [Vaughn responded to The Chronicle’s follow-up request for an update by email. His understanding is that the MDNR is continuing negotiations with the Trolz family, who have until the end of the month to respond.]

Commissioner Fred Veigel noted that the county can’t buy every piece of property that’s brought forward for consideration. “Some of it will just be flat old farmland, which I don’t think we should be getting into. But that’s my opinion.” That ended the discussion.

Outcome: On a unanimous voice vote, commissioners approved the motion authorizing staff to prepare a purchase offer for the Jarskey property.

NAPP Acquisitions: Harwood, Harwood, Holley & Kim Properties

The second acquisition that was considered on April 9 – four parcels with three owners totaling about 18 acres – had been nominated in June of 2010 for consideration by NAPP. However, the negotiations fell through when the owners thought the appraisal of $34,465 an acre was too low, Freeman said. “Every now and then, something goes around and around and around, and then finally gets somewhere.” He noted that it was a small but “very exciting” collection of parcels along the north side of Michigan Avenue, across from the Pittsfield Township offices. The land is located in a large residential area that surrounds the township offices. [.pdf of staff memo]

The wooded parcels are unique in being undeveloped, he continued. The land is one of the last wooded landscapes along Michigan Avenue – a mature wood lot completely undeveloped, with a lot of specimen trees such as shagbark hickory, and a clear “understory.” Freeman showed a slide with one of the county’s “classic old oak trees, easily a couple of hundred years old.” The parcels are next to the 535-acre Pittsfield Preserve to the north and west, which provides parking and a trailhead that could be expanded into the proposed purchase.

Pittsfield Township, natural areas, Washtenaw County parks and recreation commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view showing boundaries of four properties along Michigan Avenue in Pittsfield Township that are being considered for purchase by the county’s natural areas preservation program.

Freeman reported that NATAC had visited the property both at the time of the original discussion in 2010, and again this year, and found the parcels to offer a chance to protect a unique resource. In addition, he called attention to a report by a volunteer, C. Edward Wall of Ypsilanti, which outlined four reasons to buy the land. Wall’s report recalled Pittsfield Township’s hope, years ago, to acquire this property when it bought land for the Pittsfield Preserve, but the township did not have enough money at the time.

Wall wrote that this is a “water recharge area of considerable importance.” In addition, the wet area in the northwest corner of these parcels contains Blanding’s turtles. [The turtle is vulnerable and rare, but not legally protected, according to the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, which reports that 15 were observed in Washtenaw County in 2010.]

Wall’s report also noted that in the area at the triangle formed by what today is Michigan Avenue and Textile Road, “countless arrow heads and spear heads have been found, so we know this was a heavily used hunting grounds and area of probably habitation.”

After summarizing Wall’s report, Freeman continued by noting that the 2012 Bosserd Appraisal Services’ appraisal came in at less than the 2010 appraisal. The two Harwood parcels were appraised at $30,093 an acre (13 acres totaling $390,000), while the Holley and Kim parcels were appraised at $30,000 an acre (5 acres totaling $150,000). The properties are in a desirable area with municipal services, but are relatively small. This is, Freeman said, “a chance for a significant investment.”

WCPARC director Bob Tetens added that the Scio Woods Preserve is a good comparable. The roughly 100 acres for that preserve were purchased for about $25,000 an acre.

Commissioners were asked to approve the staff recommendation to purchase the two Harwood properties for $390,000, and the Holley and Kim properties for $150,000, contingent on completion of due diligence investigations and final approval by WCPARC.

NAPP Acquisitions: Harwood et al Properties – Commission Discussion

Commissioner Fred Veigel began the discussion: “Isn’t a lot of that land wet?” Tom Freeman replied that there is a bit of wetland in the northwest corner, but that the part along Michigan Avenue is high land. Veigel also asked how many cars can park in the nearby lot. Freeman answered that it would hold perhaps 20 vehicles.

Tetens noted that WCPARC doesn’t own a lot of property in that area.

Jan Anschuetz reported that coincidentally, she just finished researching and writing an article for Gleanings, a publication of the Ypsilanti Historical Society. [At the time of the April 9 meeting, Anschuetz’ article had not yet been published.] She had found that the original property owner, John Gilbert, reported seeing 4,000 Indians camping on the land in 1890. Gilbert, the first surveyor here, purchased that land when he came from New York State. An ancestor of the current owner of the Harwood property built a mill on the site of the WCPARC planned recreation center – on the Water Street redevelopment site in downtown Ypsilanti. Anschuetz told commissioners that Gilbert supposedly traded his farm for that mill, making Harwood the owner of the land being considered for NAPP.

Veigel then said: “We keep buying properties. Have we figured out what it costs to maintain them?” Tetens replied that WPCARC staff does factor in the stewardship costs. He described how originally there had been an ordinance restriction that only 7% of millage funds could be used for management or stewardship. But the county board of commissioners last year eliminated all percentage restrictions on set-asides for management and stewardship.

By way of background, WCPARC’s goal is to use $600,000 per year for management and stewardship. Of that, roughly $240,000 would be used for ongoing stewardship activities, and $360,000 would remain to be invested in a dedicated reserve for long-term land stewardship. By 2020, when the current millage expires, that annual investment is expected to have built a dedicated reserve of $6 million.

There was no further discussion on this item.

Outcome: On a unanimous voice vote, commissioners approved the motion to authorize staff to prepare purchase offers on the two Harwood properties for $390,000, and the Holley and Kim properties for $150,000, contingent on completion of due diligence investigations and final approval by WCPARC.

Farmland Preservation

Robin Burke, land protection coordinator for the Legacy Land Conservancy, presented a report from the agricultural lands preservation advisory committee (ALPAC), which makes recommendations to the county parks and rec commission about farmland deals. The conservancy is under contract with WCPARC to provide support to ALPAC. Also attending the April 9 meeting was Legacy executive director Susan Lackey.

Susan Lackey, Evan Pratt, Legacy Land Conservancy, Washtenaw County parks and recreation commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Susan Lackey, executive director of the Legacy Land Conservancy, talks with Evan Pratt, Washtenaw County’s water resources commissioner.

By way of background, when voters approved the NAPP millage in 2000, proceeds could not be used for the purchase of development rights, a common way to protect farmland from being sold for development.

But in 2010, the county board changed the ordinance governing the county’s natural areas preservation program (NAPP), in preparation for a renewal millage later that year. The change reflected two broad strategic goals: (1) incorporating farmland into NAPP’s land preservation efforts, and (2) clarifying the county’s use of the purchase of development rights (PDR) to preserve land, in addition to outright acquisition.

ALPAC was designated as the group that would advise the county about farmland PDR deals. It’s a counterpart to the natural areas technical advisory committee, which gives advice on the county’s natural areas purchases. Legacy Land Conservancy was hired to advise ALPAC in making its recommendations to the county parks and recreation commission, which makes the final decision regarding how to spend the natural area millage proceeds.

At WCPARC’s April 9 meeting, Burke noted that last year the commission had been briefed on ALPAC’s recommendations for the purchase of development rights after a first round of proposals. The last of those deals closed in March of 2013, she said, protecting a total of 206 areas of farmland. The properties will remain farmland under a conservation easement that includes language opening the land to the public for events only, Burke noted, not on a daily basis, as a park would be. This serves the county, she continued, by maintaining the benefits of having farmland throughout the county, providing ecological, agricultural, economic, and other benefits.

As background, the second round for owners to nominate property for which they are willing to consider selling development rights closed in the fall of 2012. There were 72 eligible nominations totaling 6,500 acres in the county. Those nominations included 14 new properties, as well as properties from the first round that were not selected. ALPAC reviews nominations using criteria approved by WCPARC. [.pdf of staff memo]

Burke used a map to show the location of the nine properties – a total of 1,219 acres – that ALPAC has determined to be the highest priority. [.pdf of map with ALPAC nominations] The properties are distributed in seven townships:

  • Freedom Township (3 parcels, 399 acres total): B. Haeussler farm (165 acres), M. Skowronski property (78 acres), and Bassett/DeLoof farm (156 acres)
  • Sylvan Township: H. Koenn farm (255 acres)
  • Lodi Township: R. Schneider farm (69 acres)
  • Lyndon Township: Kaiser/Koker farm (108 acres)
  • Northfield Township: Rockol farm (172 acres)
  • Webster Township: A. Sullivan Trust farm (91 acres)
  • Lima Township: Frey farm (125 acres)

Burke also reviewed other properties – one of high interest if a partnership would be possible, 44 that required further research, and one that would be dropped from consideration.

Burke described the process as being in a very preliminary stage. “I am here to get your approval to have conversations with these landowners,” she said. “We are not at all sure we will proceed to wanting to purchase.” The conversations will include a discussion about the benefit to the owner, whether there will be other partners involved in preserving the farmland, and the nature of the land itself, Burke explained.

Farmland Preservation: Commission Discussion

Bob Marans, WCPARC president, asked how priorities are determined. Burke responded that at this point, the priorities are based purely on objective criteria, including soil quality, parcel size, suitability for septic – which is used to gauge the potential for development pressure.

WCPARC director Bob Tetens asked about properties that were left over from the previous round – ones that were under consideration but not purchased. Burke explained that the criteria changed after the first round and before the second round, so all the nominations from the first round were re-scored for this second round. The properties will retain that new score going forward.

Responding to a follow-up query from The Chronicle after the meeting via email, Lackey elaborated on the criteria and the change in scoring. ALPAC’s scoring system continues to reflect the criteria in the NAPP ordinance, which in turn complies with the state law’s purchase of development rights requirements. These are:

  • Characteristics of the farmland: prime and unique soils, size, percentage of property in agricultural use, scenic historic or architectural features, scenic view.
  • Potential for development pressure: adjacent land uses, adjacent land use designation, amount of road frontage, proximity to public sanitary sewer/water.
  • Leverage: percentage of funding from other sources, including willingness of landowner to accept a percentage of the appraised value of the development rights on the property.
  • Open space value: proximity to existing private and/or public protected land, regardless of use.

For the current round, Lackey wrote, “ALPAC changed the weighting of various criteria in the scoring system. For example, some soils that are prime and unique for agricultural purposes do not support septic systems, and we didn’t want to give them the same weight as soils that would easily support septic. We added a new cohort in scoring property size to reflect that we were seeing properties much larger than we had anticipated. Finally, we realized that our road frontage scoring did not accurately reflect the frontage requirements of most of the current township zoning, wanting to make sure we weighted the scoring toward properties that were the most easily developed. We wanted to start with the best farmland and the most threatened farmland, since we see a slight uptick in the acquisition of land for development purposes.”

At the April 9 meeting, commissioner Evan Pratt asked why this item was being considered at this point. [Pratt noted that he's a “newbie” to WCPARC – he joined the commission in January of 2013 by virtue of his position as water resources commissioner. He was elected to that post in November 2012.]

Tetens replied that this is an annual report from ALPAC. “It is more an informational report than a request for action.”

Burke added that in the future, this type of report will be brought to the commission in the fall, coordinated with the annual report from the natural areas technical advisory committee (NATAC).

Pratt noted that in order to look at the big picture, the commission should look at all the groups buying or preserving land in the county – not just WCPARC. To this, Tetens responded that the map in Burke’s presentation showed all land that’s preserved in the county, including the Ann Arbor greenbelt program and various township land preservation efforts. [.pdf of land preservation map]

Presented with the complete picture of land being preserved through outright purchase, as well as through the purchase of development rights, commissioner Fred Veigel commented, “The more we take off the tax rolls, the less tax money comes to the county – so we have to be careful.” To this, Burke countered: “But when we buy a conservation easement, it stays in private ownership and continues to pay property taxes.”

Outcome: This was not a voting item.

Financial Reports

Each month, the commission reviews several financial reports, including a monthly claims report as well as fund balance reports for the parks & recreation facilities and for the natural areas preservation program.

Financial Reports: Claims

The April 2013 claims – payments due to be made – totaled $1,647,158. [.pdf of April 2013 claims report] The unusually large amount consisted primarily of $1,123,822 in expenses related to capital improvements. Of that, $1,103,651 went to Sorenson Gross Construction Services for work on major improvement projects at Independence Lake and Rolling Hills parks.

The next largest expense was $422,278 for the natural areas preservation program (NAPP), related to the acquisition of the Bailo conservation easement in Superior Township. The amount included the purchase of development rights and associated expenses. [For details on that acquisition, see Chronicle coverage of WCPARC's Nov. 12, 2012 meeting.] [.pdf of April 2013 non-recurring major expenses]

Financial Reports: Fund Balance

WCPARC’s reports separate “recreation” (parks, facilities, and functions) from the natural areas preservation program (NAPP), because the two components of WCPARC’s responsibilities are funded by separate millages.

The NAPP fund balance showed a beginning fund balance on Jan. 1, 2013 of $10,263,644. Actual year-to-date revenue through March 31 totaled $2,836,450 with actual year-to-date expenses of $694,119. The NAPP fund balance at the end of 2013 is projected to be $12,977,831.

For parks and recreation, the fund balance on Jan. 1, 2013 was $12,950,815. Actual year-to-date revenue through March 31 was $6,001,918 with actual year-to-date expenses of $2,702,890. The parks and rec fund balance at the end of 2013 is projected to be $12,726,121. [.pdf of April 2013 fund balance statements]

There was no commission discussion.

Outcome: Both reports were unanimously approved as received for filing.

Facility Updates

The WCPARC meeting included updates on the Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center, Rolling Hills Park and Independence Lake Park. Here are some highlights.

Facility Updates: Meri Lou Murray Rec Center

Bob Tetens reported that the Meri Lou Murray recreation center was “stable.” He noted that although there’s a decline in the number of annual members, there’s an increase in the number of daily passes compared to 2012. He attributed the decrease to the economy or the demographics of the center’s clientele. “A lot of people don’t have the five-day-a-week commitment,” Tetens said, adding that some of the users are seasonal. Tetens said he and his staff would try to address these changes with marketing and different programming.

A written report for the center showed total participation for 2013 through the end of March was 94,566, down from 98,048 in 2012 and 102,815 in 2011. Total revenue was $414,776 through March of 2013. That compares with $389,732 for the same period in 2012, and $414,897 in 2011. [.pdf of MLM rec center report]

Facility Updates: Rolling Hills & Independence Lake

In the summer, WCPARC opens a water park at Rolling Hills, which has separate admission fees from the rest of the park. In the winter, Rolling Hills becomes a winter park with a sledding hill and cross-country and walking trails. The park rents toboggans and skis. There, too, attendance was down: 797 this year to date compared to 852 in 2012 and 1,419 in 2011. Attendance is very weather-dependent, Tetens pointed out, and the changes are due to snowfall. Revenue to date in 2013 was $14,064, up from $10,495 during the same period in 2012 but down from $20,141 in 2011. [.pdf of Rolling Hills report]

Tetens closed his presentation with the reminder that “we are 47 days away from Super Friday” – a reference to May 24, when Rolling Hills and Independence Lake will re-open. He told commissioners that when the weather gets warmer, they’ll have the chance to see improvements made at Independence Lake and Rolling Hills, before the summer season gets underway.

Outcome: Both reports were unanimously approved as received for filing.

Later in the meeting, Tetens gave an update on the near-completion of significant additions to Rolling Hills and Independence Lake parks. [See Chronicle coverage of WCPARC's July 24, 2012 meeting, when those projects were discussed in detail.]

Tetens reported that Rolling Hills is “starting to look like a water park again,” adding that the work on improvements is 75% complete. Site grading is only 15% done because of issues with the weather and the state’s frost laws. He showed a slide that looked like a narrow empty corridor, and described it as a “pipe alley.” The pipes are completely exposed rather than hidden behind walls, cupboards, a sink, or a toilet – an approach that makes maintenance easier.

Independence Lake Park’s improvements are 95% complete. The punch list is already being worked on, Tetens said. Commissioners expressed appreciation for the work, commenting that it was “beautiful” and “looks like sculpture” – referring to the stanchions that will hold shade umbrellas.

Commissioner Fred Veigel asked whether there would be a press release about the improvements. Yes, Tetens replied. The staff will also provide tours to local press.

Property Maintenance

Deputy director Coy Vaughn presented an update on maintenance work during the April 9 meeting. He described work of the roving operations crew as it cleaned up after the snow and ice storm last month, and began to clear the garden beds at the County Farm Park. Stewardship activity included controlled burns to mitigate the number of invasive species. Those were done at the County Farm Park, Rolling Hills Park, as well as the Leonard, Lyndon, Miller Smith and Northfield preserves.

Commissioner Fred Veigel asked, “Who does the fire control?” Tetens explained that WCPARC staff are trained to control the fires, and if an area is “larger than we think we can do, we contract it out – as we did at Park Lyndon.” He explained that WCPARC staff did controlled burns at County Farm Park. “We notify everyone, tell the fire departments, and have to wait for the right conditions,” he said. Those conditions include winds less than 5 mph from the right direction, as well as sufficient humidity.

Communications & Commentary

Commissioner Jan Anschuetz said she is trying to visit all the preserves again, and noted that the [Clark and Avis] Spike Preserve has “glorious” boardwalks, even though they are not yet completed. She said she’d met the Spikes’ daughter and that the daughter had been very pleased with the work, and had indicated that her parents would be very happy with it too. Tom Freeman agreed: “This boardwalk will knock your socks off,” adding that it leads to a “spectacular view.” The boardwalk might be done by the end of April, Freeman said.

Bob Tetens mentioned that he had made a presentation about WCPARC to a group of Charles Reinhart Realtors and they were very impressed, which led Anschuetz to joke that “even very conservative people love us.” Commissioner Bob Marans said, “This raises the question of our publicity. We have a millage renewal coming up in 2014. What are we doing?”

Tetens replied that a staff committee is completing a draft marketing plan, and has accelerated the update of WCPARC’s strategic plan. He indicated that staff could bring a preliminary report back to the commission in a month or two. Commissioner Evan Pratt suggested sending a press release to the media.

Tetens agreed, saying that WCPARC will need to “over market ourselves” the year before the millage renewal. This led Anschuetz to ask about the WCPARC online survey, designed to solicit feedback on the WCPARC master plan update. “How are we letting people know it is there? People who go to the website are the people who already know about it,” she said.

Tetens responded that the staff talks to local groups, and attends events like the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival. They’re also planning to do additional marketing, including bus ads.

Anschuetz suggested using “that wonderful DVD of the history of WCPARC” as a marketing tool. Tetens said they were planning to show the video on Comcast during breaks in meetings of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, which are broadcast on Community Television Network. “This is our 40th year – we want a blitz this summer to kick off a year before the millage renewal,” Tetens said.

Communications & Commentary: Rutherford Pool

Fred Veigel raised a new issue: Friends of Rutherford Pool, a citizens group, has been raising money to rebuild Rutherford Pool, a public swimming pool in Ypsilanti. Veigel reported that the group has raised $1 million and needs about $50,000 more. “Is it possible to use any of our money to assist with that?” he asked.

Bob Tetens reported that WCPARC has pledged $50,000 as a grant, and $75,000 as a bridge loan. But the citizens group doesn’t yet have an approved project with bids in hand, so they don’t know how much they need. He had heard that the cost of the revised plan was $844,000, and that the city of Ypsilanti wants a contingency of $50,000 in addition to that before the project could go forward. He noted that the project also needs an additional $36,000 for fencing.

“There are a lot of figures floating around out there,” Tetens said. “When the fog clears, we will bring it back to you with an update. They do have a lot of money pledged.”

Jan Anschuetz added: “They are very optimistic.”

The meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.

Present: Jan Anschuetz, Janis Bobrin, Bob Marans, Evan Pratt, Patricia Scribner, and Fred Veigel.

Absent: Nelson Meade, Rolland Sizemore, Jr., Dan Smith, and Conan Smith.

Staff Present: Bob Tetens, Coy Vaughn. Also: Tom Freeman, consultant; Susan Lackey and Robin Burke of the Legacy Land Conservancy.

Next meeting: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the county parks and recreation department’s office at 2230 Platt Road in Ann Arbor, in the County Farm property.

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