Stories indexed with the term ‘Ann Arbor parks’

Park Fee Waiver for Charitable Work: Initial OK

The Ann Arbor city council has given initial approval to a change to the city’s ordinances so that the charitable distribution of goods for basic human needs could be conducted in city parks without incurring a fee for park use. The proposal is not restricted to downtown parks, but the idea originated from an issue that emerged in connection with Liberty Plaza, which is a downtown park.

The council’s initial approval came at its Nov. 7, 2013 meeting. Ordinance changes require an initial approval, followed by a second approval at a subsequent meeting.

The recommendation for the ordinance change came from the city’s park advisory commission at its Sept. 17, 2013 meeting. This broader policy change comes three months after the … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Considers Broad Park Fee Waiver

Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Sept. 17, 2013): With about a half dozen Camp Take Notice supporters watching, commissioners recommended approval of a broad park fee waiver for charities that distribute “goods for basic human needs” in Ann Arbor parks.

Ingrid Ault, Alonzo Young, Camp Take Notice, Ann Arbor park advisory commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Ingrid Ault, who was elected chair of the Ann Arbor park advisory commission on Sept. 17, shakes hands with Alonzo Young of Camp Take Notice. (Photos by the writer.)

The waiver, which would require approval by the city council before taking effect, follows action by the council this summer to waive all park rental fees for the use of Liberty Plaza during a one-year trial period, also based on a PAC recommendation. The goal of that waiver is to spur more activity in that urban park, at the southwest corner of Liberty and Divisions streets.

The issue of fee waivers arose earlier this year when city staff considered charging a rental fee to the church that hosted Pizza in the Park, a weekly homelessness outreach ministry. Members of Camp Take Notice, a group that advocates for the homeless, has been urging the city to apply a broad fee waiver throughout the entire park system for entities that provide humanitarian aid. The recommendation approved on Sept. 17 is a compromise worked out with city staff and Camp Take Notice representatives.

Discussion among commissioners focused on how the waiver would be handled. Parks & recreation manager Colin Smith stressed that all park rules would still apply, and that applicants would need to go through the standard permitting process in order to receive a waiver.

During their Sept. 17 meeting, commissioners also discussed the issue of releasing raw data to the public, in the context of two recent surveys – on dog parks and downtown parks. Tim Berla and others advocated for making the survey results available in a form that could be used by the public for analysis. [The data from both of those surveys had been available in a .pdf format, and can now be downloaded from the city's website as Excel files.] Other commissioners pushed for the city to develop a policy regarding the release of data – a standardized approach that would be approved by the city council.

The Sept. 17 meeting also included PAC’s annual election of officers. Commissioners unanimously selected Ingrid Ault as chair and Graydon Krapohl as vice chair. Bob Galardi was re-elected chair of PAC’s budget and finance committee. There were no other nominations. Current PAC chair Julie Grand is term limited and will be cycling off the commission in October.
[Full Story]

Park Commissioners: More Green, Please

Ann Arbor park advisory commissioners had a wide-ranging conversation on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012 – mostly focused on responding to a Connecting William Street presentation that was made at PAC’s Aug. 21 meeting.

Liberty Plaza

Liberty Plaza, a downtown city park, as viewed from the corner of Liberty and Division facing southwest. The white house in the left background is the Kempf House Museum. The red brick building visible in the back right is the Ann Arbor District Library.

Their consensus: That the potential development scenarios presented by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority – focused on five city-owned properties along William Street – did not include sufficient parkland or green space.

Commissioners plan to craft a resolution for their Oct. 16 meeting, recommending that the DDA incorporate more green space into its final proposal to the city council. The council had directed the DDA to develop a coordinated planning approach for the five sites, to guide future development. The parcels include the lower level of the Fourth & William parking structure, plus four surface parking lots: (1) the Kline’s lot on Ashley; (2) the lot next to Palio restaurant at Main & William; (3) the old YMCA lot between Fourth and Fifth; and (5) the top of the Library Lane underground parking garage on South Fifth, north of the downtown library.

PAC’s resolution will also likely suggest specific attributes they’d like to see in a downtown park, such as grassy areas, interactive sculptures, or a performance space. Other attributes might include a visible location with mixed-use development around it, and programming or activities to attract people to the site.

Despite consensus that more green space is needed, commissioners were less unified about where that green space should be located, and expressed some frustration that they didn’t have more time for this task. One possibility discussed was a downtown greenway, making connections between different parcels where pedestrians could walk from Main Street to the library on South Fifth, and possibly continuing to State Street.

Other ideas included setting aside one of the five sites – either Main and William, or Fifth and William were suggested – as a park. Commissioners also discussed a possible park or plaza on the Library Lane site. There was some sentiment that having an outdoor space next to the library would be positive, though they acknowledged the concerns raised by library officials about putting a park there.

Liberty Plaza, one of the city’s current downtown parks, was part of the mix, although it’s not included in the Connecting William Street project. Commissioners have been asked by mayor John Hieftje to look at that park and some staff suggestions for improving it. More broadly, Hieftje has asked PAC to help prioritize the needs for downtown parks and the possibility of adding more parks into the system.

Colin Smith, Ann Arbor’s parks and recreation manager, encouraged commissioners to review the city’s parks and recreation open space (PROS) plan, which includes recommendations for downtown parks. Some of these issues have been discussed for years, he noted, and it’s important not to “reinvent the wheel.”

The follow-up discussion to requests from Hieftje and the DDA was held at PAC’s land acquisition committee meeting on Sept. 4 in the city council workroom. It was attended by seven of the nine park commissioners: Julie Grand, Ingrid Ault, Tim Berla, Tim Doyle, Alan Jackson, John Lawter and Karen Levin. Not at the meeting were the two city councilmembers – Mike Anglin and Christopher Taylor – who are ex-officio members of PAC.

Also absent was Bob Galardi, the commission’s most recently appointed member. His absence was noted by some commissioners, who had hoped to hear his perspective as a member of the DDA’s leadership and outreach committee for the Connecting William Street project. [Full Story]

City Council Votes Down Park Amendment

A resolution that would have placed a question on the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot – asking Ann Arbor voters if they would like to amend the city charter’s clause on parkland protections – was voted down by the city council at its Aug. 9 meeting. The question had been postponed from its July 16, 2012 meeting.

The resolution received four votes of support – from Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), Mike Anglin (Ward 5), Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3). Sabra Briere (Ward 1), who had co-sponsored the original resolution, did not vote for it. So the vote on the 11-member body was 4-7.

The version of the charter amendment considered by the council on July 16 was [added language ... [Full Story]

Creek Project Ramps Up at Leslie Park Golf

Ann Arbor park advisory commission (Dec. 20, 2011): Park commissioners were briefed about a project on the section of Traver Creek running through the city’s Leslie Park golf course, addressing erosion and stormwater issues along the streambank.

Jen Lawson, Doug Kelly

Jen Lawson, the city's water quality manager, talks with Doug Kelly, the city's director of golf, prior to the start of the Dec. 20, 2011 park advisory commission meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

Jen Lawson, the city of Ann Arbor’s water quality manager, said the city hopes to hire a design consultant in January, with preliminary designs for the project ready by April. Final designs and construction plans would be done by July, and construction is projected to start in November of 2012.

The project would be completed by the spring of 2013, Lawson said, although an additional two growing seasons would be needed for plants to take hold. The intent is to minimize the impact on golfers during construction – parks and recreation manager Colin Smith noted that the project team is sensitive to the need for revenues from the course.

During the December meeting, commissioners also got an update on the city’s natural area preservation program, which has increased the number of volunteers who help with tasks like invasive species control and animal/plant monitoring.

Communications from staff included an update on the Argo Dam bypass, where work has stopped for the season. Additional work, including paving of a footpath, will occur in the spring. And in communications from commissioners, Sam Offen reminded his colleagues of the upcoming sustainability forums. The first forum is on Thursday, Jan. 12, focusing on resource management. All forums, held once a month, will be at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library building, 343 S. Fifth Ave. starting at 7 p.m. [Full Story]

Work Planned at Ann Arbor’s Riverside Park

Five residents showed up to the Island Park shelter on Tuesday evening to give input on planned renovations at nearby Riverside Park, which has experienced flooding and other problems.

Eliana Moya-Raggio, Amy Kuras

Ann Arbor park planner Amy Kuras, right, shows maps of Riverside Park to neighbors who came to an information meeting on Tuesday evening at the nearby Island Park. Sitting next to her is Eliana Moya-Raggio, a resident of Wall Street. The smaller map is an overlay showing how a lot of the park, which is located next to the Huron River, is in a floodplain. (Photos by the writer.)

Park planner Amy Kuras described the park’s entrance off of Wall Street as “falling apart,” and talked through some of the proposed changes of the project. The two main changes involve relocating a parking lot and repaving Canal Street, a narrow lane that runs parallel to the park and leads to the back of the University of Michigan’s new Kellogg Eye Center building.

The project is one of many slated for fiscal year 2012 and outlined in the recently updated Parks & Recreation Open Space (PROS) plan.

Residents generally expressed support for the project, and gave suggestions for improvements. During the hour-long discussion they also raised other concerns not directly tied to the park, including increased traffic along Wall Street, additional parking lots planned by UM, and noise from delivery trucks traveling along Canal Street to Kellogg Eye Center. Similar concerns had been raised by some of these residents nearly three years ago, at a December 2008 meeting with university officials regarding planned parking along Wall Street.

Tuesday’s conversation also touched on topics that affect the surrounding area, including the need for better connections to the Border-to-Border trail system, and the status of changes planned at the Argo headrace. The city had expected to receive a state permit earlier in the day so that work could begin on the headrace, but Kuras reported that by late afternoon, it still hadn’t arrived. [Responding to a follow-up email from The Chronicle, parks & rec manager Colin Smith reported that the permit has now been received, and work on the headrace will begin on Thursday, Aug. 25. For details of that work, see Chronicle coverage: "Action on Argo Headrace, Trails Near Fuller" ]

The Riverside changes are among several slated for the city’s current fiscal year, paid for out of the parks millage and outlined in the PROS plan. Another forum is planned for Tuesday, Aug. 30 at Cobblestone Farm to talk about proposed improvements at Buhr Park. [Full Story]

Couple Gives $50,000 for Ann Arbor Park

Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (June 21, 2011): Park commissioners heard some unusual and welcome news at their June meeting – two long-time Ann Arbor residents, Leslie and Michael Morris, are donating $50,000 to the city in support of South University Park.

Michael Morris, Leslie Morris, Colin Smith

From left: Michael Morris and Leslie Morris, who are donating $50,000 to rehab South University Park, and Colin Smith, the city's parks and recreation manager.

In brief remarks to commissioners, Leslie Morris – a former Ward 2 city councilmember – explained how she and her husband had played a role decades ago in creating the park, which is located at South University Avenue and Walnut. They hope their donation will help develop the park based on current needs of the neighborhood, she said.

Michael Morris noted that before they became involved in forming that neighborhood park, their civic engagement primarily had been limited to voting. But getting involved in that project ultimately led to much deeper engagement, culminating in the service of Leslie Morris on council. ”It’s been a rewarding time for us,” he said, “and I’m pleased we’re able to do more to continue the life of that park.”

Later in the meeting, commissioners got updates on the Ann Arbor senior center and Mack pool. Both facilities rely on general fund support and had been at risk of closing, when city officials were looking to cut costs in 2009. Residents rallied, and the city formed two task forces to develop strategies – both for raising revenues and cutting expenses – to keep both facilities open.

The reports given at PAC’s June 21 meeting were updates for the first fiscal year that these strategies took effect. Neither facility completely hit its target budget goals, but each took steps toward closing the gap between revenues and expenses.

Commissioners also got a quarterly update on capital improvements in the park system, including plans to renovate the Island Park Greek Revival shelter and the pergola at West Park, and to replace a path at Leslie Science & Nature Center – a project that might use recycled crushed glass as a porous surface. PAC members voted to recommend approval for funding of two specific projects: renovation of locker rooms at Veterans Memorial Park, and of tennis courts at West Park.

At the end of the meeting, Steve Thorp spoke during public commentary, urging the city to give West Park a new name – Central Park West – and to possibly put a dog park there. [Full Story]

Park Commission Recommends Fee Bumps

At its April 26, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor park advisory commission voted unanimously to recommend a set of fee increases and new program fees for park facilities as a part of the city’s fiscal year 2012 budget. The fees require final approval by the Ann Arbor city council. The FY 2012 budget, which begins July 1, 2011, will be considered and approved by the council on May 16. Fee increases would be effective July 1, 2011. [.pdf of recommended fee increases]

Examples from the set of fee increases include an increase in daily swimming pool admission fees for adults from $4 to $5, and for youth and seniors from $3.50 to $4. The increase in daily swimming pool admission fees is expected to generate an additional $40,000 in revenue for the city.

Alcohol permit fees for residents would be increased from $12 to $25, which is expected to increase revenue by $4,925.

Fees are also proposed for new activities that previously did not exist. Among the new fees would be one for renting inner tubes. The city does not currently rent them out, but expects to be able to do some business with the tubes in connection with the construction of the Argo Dam bypass channel – which is projected to be completed at the end of this season. It would cost $10 to rent a tube. The city is projecting 1,000 such rentals for April-June 2012, for an additional $10,000 in revenue for the FY 2012 budget.

Another fee for a new activity would be for the pilot night market program on Wednesday evenings – the stall charge would be $20, which is expected to generate $10,000 for the city. [Previous Chronicle coverage: "Idea for Night Farmers Market Floated"]

This brief was filed from the Washtenaw County boardroom at 220 N. Main St. A more detailed report of the meeting will follow: [link] [Full Story]