Downtown Parks Group Seeks More Input

The subcommittee of Ann Arbor’s park advisory commission, which has been working on recommendations for a possible new downtown park, will hold a public forum on Monday, Sept. 9 to get additional input. The forum runs from 7-8:30 p.m. at the lower level multi-purpose room of the downtown library at 343 S. Fifth Ave.

At a subcommittee meeting on Sept. 3, members discussed the presentation and format for the Sept. 9 forum, which will include a review of responses from an online survey conducted this summer. [.pdf of survey responses, a 110-page document] [.pdf of slide presentation showing survey results]

Highlights from the survey, which received about 1,600 responses, include:

  • 76.2% of respondents believe Ann Arbor would benefit from more downtown parks/open spaces.
  • Activities and features that are viewed as most important in a downtown park or open space include a place to relax, read and people-watch; a landscaped/green space; a place with shade; food vendors; and free wireless Internet access.
  • 67.8% supported paying for any new park or open space through a combination of public and private funding.
  • In ranking most desirable and least desirable options for a downtown park, the top of the Library Lane parking lot on South Fifth Avenue was ranked as the most desirable spot, with 721 N. Main ranked as the least desirable.

The results include more than 600 responses to a prompt for open-ended comments.

The Sept. 9 forum will include a presentation by subcommittee members and staff, as well as time for conversations at several “stations” representing different downtown park options. A second forum will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 18 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the basement conference room at city hall, 301 E. Huron. More information is on the subcommittee’s website.

Originally, the committee had hoped to deliver recommendations to the full park advisory commission by August. It’s possible that they’ll have a report prepared by PAC’s Oct. 15 meeting, according to Ingrid Ault, who chairs the subcommittee.

This subcommittee has been meeting since early February. Their work relates in part to a request that mayor John Hieftje made last summer to assess the city’s downtown parks. It’s also meant to supplement the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s Connecting William Street project, which focused on recommendations for development of five city-own lots in the downtown. For additional background, see Chronicle coverage: “Survey Drafted for Input on Downtown Parks,” “Parks Group To Weigh In On Downtown Need,” and “Committee Starts Downtown Parks Research,” as well as coverage included in the PAC meeting reports for March 19, 2013 and May 21, 2013.