Stories indexed with the term ‘bike share’

Commission Works on Public Art Planning

Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Jan. 29, 2014): In a three-hour session, the public art commission worked on prioritizing capital improvement projects that might be suitable for public art.

Kristin "KT" Tomey, Ann Arbor public art commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

On Jan. 29, Kristin “KT” Tomey attended her first regular meeting of the Ann Arbor public art commission since being appointed by the city council on Jan. 6. (Photos by the writer.)

Some commissioners expressed frustration that they had insufficient information on which to base their evaluation. And after about two hours of discussion – using a scoring rubric with seven criteria – commissioners had evaluated only a few projects: artist-designed street access (manhole) covers, art for the Springwater subdivision, and art for the corridors of Main Street and Plymouth Road. Because there were still several other items on the agenda, they voted to postpone further evaluation of possible capital projects until their next meeting.

In other action, commissioners discussed and approved a draft annual public art plan that’s officially due to the city council on Feb. 1, for projects to be undertaken in the fiscal year that begins July 1. It includes projects that are underway – like artwork for East Stadium bridges and Argo Cascades – as well as a proposal to add some enhanced capital projects, like street access covers on resurfaced roads.

The draft annual plan had been prepared by Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator. Commissioners asked for some revisions and designated commissioner John Kotarski to work with Seagraves on a final version that will likely be presented to the council on Feb. 18. Kotarski praised the draft, saying “It has as much meat as anyone wants. It shows a lot of work. It shows an art commission that gets the message from an impatient city council.”

Commissioners also discussed a proposal from the Clean Energy Coalition to select and fund an artist who would help incorporate art into a new bike share program. They tabled action on this item, wanting additional information about the CEC’s expectations for funding.

This was AAPAC’s first regular meeting since Oct. 23, 2013, although they held a retreat in December and a planning session earlier in January. Throughout the evening, concerns were raised about the future of the public art program, in light of recent city council discussions. The council had postponed a requested six-month extension of Seagraves’ contract, and will be taking up that item on Feb. 3.

Also on the council’s Feb. 3 agenda is an amendment to the city’s public art ordinance. The amendment would allow the council to return about $800,000 accumulated under the city’s former Percent for Art program to the funds from which that money was drawn, such as the street millage or sanitary sewer fund. It’s the latest in an ongoing transition for the city’s public art program – a transition that’s been unsettling for public art commissioners.

The Jan. 29 meeting marked another transition for AAPAC, which has seen considerable turnover during the past year. It was the first regular monthly meeting for the newest commissioner, Kristin “KT” Tomey, who was appointed by the city council on Jan. 6. And it was the last meeting for Malverne Winborne, whose term ended on Dec. 31. He did not seek reappointment, and was serving until the position was filled. His replacement, Jim Simpson, is expected to be confirmed in a vote at the city council’s Feb. 3 meeting.

Winborne has served as vice chair of AAPAC – but the group held new officer elections on Jan. 29. Bob Miller was re-elected to another one-year term as chair, and John Kotarski was elected vice chair. There were no competing nominations, and both votes were unanimous.

Noting that the Jan. 29 meeting had been especially challenging, Miller thanked commissioners for their work. “This is probably the most belabored meeting I think we’ve ever gone through, aside from maybe one of the retreats,” he said. “I’m tapped out.” He jokingly cajoled commissioners: “Please do come back.”

Miller also encouraged students to return, as about two dozen students from Skyline High School – and some parents – attended the Jan. 29 meeting. “It’s the most amount of people we’ve ever had at any of our meetings,” Miller noted. One student pointed out that they were all from the same government class, facing a Jan. 31 deadline to attend a public meeting. [Full Story]

Fifth & Depot

A plea on Twitter for spare camera battery led me to Amtrak Station. There I learn I have not mastered the make/model of my camera. But I run into city transportation program manager Eli Cooper, who’s there to greet the same people with the battery deficiency. [photo 1] [photo 2] [Details in first comment.]

Street-Closing Debate Extends Council Session

Ann Arbor city council meeting (Aug. 8, 2013): Counting all public hearings and public commentary, members of the public accounted for just 20 minutes of the council’s meeting. Still, councilmembers stretched a relatively light agenda to about four hours.

Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) share a light moment before the meeting started. They had both contested Democratic primaries two days earlier. Kunselman prevailed in a narrow race. Jack Eaton won the Ward 4 race.

Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) share a light moment before the Aug. 8 meeting started. They had both contested Democratic primaries two days earlier. Kunselman prevailed in a narrow race against Julie Grand. Jack Eaton won the Ward 4 race. (Photos by the writer.)

An hour of the meeting was taken up with a discussion of street closures around Michigan Stadium on football game days. The street closures are part of an effort to increase safety by creating a vehicle-free zone around the stadium. It involves a cooperative effort with the University of Michigan, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the city of Ann Arbor police department.

Those deliberations ultimately resulted in a modification of the original plan, so that the southbound lane of Main Street would not be closed until an hour before the start of the game.

Other parts of the plan were approved as originally proposed, starting three hours before kickoff: E. Keech Street between S. Main and Greene streets will be closed, and access to Greene Street from E. Hoover to E. Keech streets will be limited to parking permit holders; the westbound lane on E. Stadium Blvd. turning right onto S. Main Street (just south of the Michigan Stadium) will be closed; and S. Main Street except for the southbound lanes will be closed from Stadium Boulevard to Pauline.

The council also amended the plan to require a report by its Oct. 7 meeting on how well the procedures are working. Even with the modification to the plan and the requirement to brief the council on Oct. 7, the proposal to close streets on football Saturdays was approved on just a 7-4 vote, with dissent from Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Margie Teall (Ward 4) and Marcia Higgins (Ward 4). That neighborhood is located in Ward 4.

Also during the meeting, the council denied a requested street closure for a non-university event on South University Avenue. The requested closing was for “Beats, Eats, and Cleats,” sponsored by The Landmark apartment building. It was planned for the evening before a football game between the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame. Councilmembers expressed concerns about the probability of alcohol consumption.

Another 40 minutes of the meeting was taken up with discussion of a bike share program, which did have a direct connection to the University of Michigan. The council was asked to contribute $150,000 from the city’s alternative transportation fund. That money provided a 20% local match on a $600,000 Federal Highway Administration Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grant that the Clean Energy Coalition (CEC) has received. The CMAQ funds have to be spent on capital, such as bikes and stations. Operations will be supported in the first three years of the program by UM at a level of $200,000 annually for a total of $600,000. The program will be operated by the CEC using B-Cycle as a vendor. The council’s vote on the bike share program was 9-2, with dissent from Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and Marcia Higgins (Ward 4).

Higgins also dissented on a council resolution that called upon the state legislature to repeal Michigan’s version of a “stand your ground” law, as well as to repeal legislation that prevents local municipalities from regulating the sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of firearms and ammunition. That resolution came after public commentary on the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case at the council’s previous meeting. Higgins agreed with the sentiments in the resolution, but said she thought it would have a greater impact if people spoke as individuals. Other councilmembers expressed some skepticism that the resolution would have much impact, but it received their support.

The Kerrytown Place project – an 18-unit townhouse development planned for the location of the former Orthodox Greek church on North Main Street – was subjected to only brief remarks. The council unanimously approved its requested rezoning and site plans.

In other business, the council approved a $10,000 design budget for a sidewalk on Waldenwood near King Elementary School. Construction of the sidewalk would allow a mid-block crosswalk to be moved to a four-way stop intersection.

The council also agreed to accept $202,370 from the Federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) to help the city purchase development rights on land in Lodi Township, southwest of the city.

Over dissent from Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), the council approved $18,500 to pay for public art administrator Aaron Seagraves’ contract through the end of 2013.

Among the nominations to boards and commissions announced at the meeting, two were significant: Rishi Narayan, founder and managing member of Underground Printing, to the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority; and Jack Bernard, chair of the University of Michigan’s council for disability concerns, to the board of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. [Full Story]

Aug. 8, 2013 Ann Arbor Council: Final

The Ann Arbor city council’s meeting on Thursday – shifted from its usual Monday slot due to the Democratic primary elections held on Tuesday – marks the beginning of a transition. After serving 14 years on the city council, Marcia Higgins will represent Ward 4 for just seven more meetings, counting Thursday. Jack Eaton prevailed on Tuesday and will be the Ward 4 Democratic nominee on the Nov. 5 ballot. He is unopposed.

New sign on door to Ann Arbor city council chamber

The new sign on the door to the Ann Arbor city council chamber, installed in the summer of 2013, includes Braille.

The council’s agenda for Thursday includes a relatively uncontroversial downtown development project. It’s also dominated by several items that relate to the way people move around inside the city. Some other agenda items relate to land outside the city.

Four different items appear on the council’s agenda related to developer Tom Fitzsimmons’ Kerrytown Place project – an 18-unit townhouse development proposed for the site of the former Greek Orthodox church on North Main Street. Nestled between Main Street on the west and Fourth Avenue on the east, the project is divided into two pieces – the Main Street frontage and Fourth Avenue frontage. Each piece of the project includes a rezoning request and a site plan proposal – and each of those constitutes an agenda item unto itself. The rezoning requested is from PUD (planned unit development) to D2 (downtown interface).

Three items relate to a piece of infrastructure closely associated with people walking as a way to get around town – sidewalks. Two resolutions involve the acceptance by the city of easements for sidewalks – one as part of a mid-block cut-through for The Varsity, a residential high-rise downtown, and the other in connection with a Safe Routes to School project near Clague Middle School on the city’s northwest side. Another sidewalk on the agenda with a school-related theme is a request for the council to approve a $10,000 design budget for about 160 feet of new sidewalk near King Elementary School, which would allow for a mid-block crosswalk to be moved to a four-way stop intersection.

More people might be able to get around the downtown and University of Michigan campus area by bicycle – if the council approves the use of $150,000 from the alternative transportation fund as requested on Thursday’s agenda. The money would provide the local match on a $600,000 federal grant obtained by the Clean Energy Coalition to establish a bike-sharing program through B-Cycle.

Getting around inside the city this fall will include the annual wrinkles due to University of Michigan move-in – and those traffic control measures are included in the council’s consent agenda. New this year will be additional traffic controls around Michigan Stadium on football game days – including the closure of Main Street between Pauline and Stadium Blvd. for a period starting three hours before kickoff until the end of the game. At its Thursday meeting, the council will be asked to give approval of the football game day traffic controls.

In matters outside the city, the council will be asked to authorize the receipt of $202,370 from the Federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) to help the city purchase of development rights on land in Lodi Township, southwest of the city. That federal grant comes in connection with the city’s greenbelt program. The council will also be asked to confirm the nomination of John Ramsburgh to the greenbelt advisory commission.

Also on the council’s agenda is the extension of a contract for the city’s part-time public art administrator through the end of the year – to handle projects in the works at locations the Kingsley rain garden, East Stadium bridges, and Argo Cascades.

Added to the agenda late, on Tuesday, is a resolution that calls upon the state legislature to repeal Michigan’s version of a “stand your ground” law as well as to repeal legislation that prevents local municipalities from regulating the sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of firearms and ammunition. The agenda item comes in response to public commentary after the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case was handed down in mid-July.

Details of other meeting agenda items are available on the city’s Legistar system. Readers can also follow the live meeting proceedings on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network.

The Chronicle will be filing live updates from city council chambers during the meeting, published in this article “below the fold.” The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. [Full Story]