Stories indexed with the term ‘Fuller Road Station’

Fuller-Maiden Lane Intersection Gets Study

At its Feb. 7, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council authorized a $460,139 contract with DLZ Michigan Inc. to review previous studies of the Fuller Road/Maiden Lane/East Medical Center Drive intersection and propose a design for a reconfiguration of the intersection. Previous studies point to a roundabout as a good solution to the traffic congestion at the intersection. The poor level of service (LOS) in that area has prompted the city to propose various solutions to the intersection redesign, dating back at least to 2005. Depending on the time of day, the intersection currently rates D and E on the letter-grade scale used to evaluate traffic flow.

In the city’s capital improvements plan (CIP), the intersection improvement is categorized with bridge projects – it’s immediately adjacent to the Maiden Lane bridge over the Huron River.

In 2009, the city studied the intersection in the context of increased traffic load due to possible construction of the Fuller Road Station – an intermodal transit center and parking deck proposed for the area between Fuller Road and East Medical Center Drive. The city’s online meeting packet includes drawings of the current configuration of the intersection as well as the possible roundabout configuration.

The engineering and design of the roundabout project will be funded out of the FY 2011 capital budget for the city’s street reconstruction millage. Construction is expected to be funded out of a combination of: (1) millage revenues in future years; (2) possible funds from a federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grant; and (3) a contribution from the University of Michigan.

In a telephone interview Monday morning before the evening council meeting, Homayoon Pirooz, in the city’s project management unit, told The Chronicle that construction on any project would not begin before the summer of 2012, with 2013 a more likely timeframe. Pirooz ballparked the construction cost of a project like this – once all the traffic lanes leading to the intersection are modified, and the pedestrian amenities are installed – as possibly more than $2.5 million.

This brief was filed from the boardroom in the Washtenaw County administration building, where the council is meeting due to renovations in the city hall building. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]

AATA: Transit Study, Planning Updates

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (Jan. 20, 2011): The AATA’s first monthly board meeting of the year featured a presentation on a connector feasibility study on the Plymouth and State street corridors. The study is now nearing completion.

Jesse Bernstein

AATA board chair Jesse Bernstein points to a pie chart projected on the screen as part of the presentation the board heard about the Plymouth-State street corridor connector study. (Photo by the writer.)

In their one main business item, the board approved the capital and categorical grants program for 2011-15. The program will form the basis for upcoming state and federal grant applications.

Board member David Nacht prefaced the discussion of the connector feasibility study by encouraging his colleagues to share their thoughts on it – because the board had argued a long time about whether to help fund the $640,000 study, along with the other partners: the city of Ann Arbor; the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority; and the University of Michigan.

In the course of their discussion, the board touched on another major planning initiative: the countywide transportation master planning process.

Beginning Jan. 31, the AATA is launching the final round of public engagement meetings to develop a countywide plan for transit. Currently the AATA is funded by an Ann Arbor transit millage, plus purchase of service (POS) agreements with other municipalities. Voters in the city of Ypsilanti passed a millage in November 2010 that will cover most of the cost of Ypsilanti’s POS, for example.

Twenty additional meetings on the countywide planning effort are scheduled at locations throughout the county, to get feedback on three transit scenarios developed so far. Transit options in the three scenarios – which the AATA has labeled Lifeline Plus, Accessible County, and Smart Growth – are nested subsets, starting with Lifeline Plus as a base, which expands on existing services and focuses on services for seniors and disabled people.

According to representatives of the AATA and its consultant on the project, Steer Davies Gleave (SDG), the goal of the last phrase of public interactions is not for people to appear at the meetings and simply vote for their preferred option. They’re interested in hearing what options from the various scenarios might be combined to build a “preferred scenario.” [Full Story]

UM Research Highlighted at Regents Meeting

University of Michigan board of regents meeting (Jan. 20, 2011): The university’s top research administrator, along with a faculty member who has successfully straddled the academic and entrepreneurial worlds, addressed regents at their January meeting about how university research is aiding economic development.

Stephen Forrest, David Lampe

Stephen Forrest, left, talks with David Lampe before the start of the Jan. 19, 2011 University of Michigan board of regents meeting. Forrest, UM's vice president for research, gave a presentation on the university's research efforts. Lampe is vice president for communications. (Photos by the writer.)

Stephen Forrest, UM’s vice president for research and chair of the board for economic development agency Ann Arbor SPARK, described the concept of an “innovation pipeline,” with the input of funding and ideas yielding an output of jobs, prosperity and expanded opportunities for faculty and students. The process has leaks and clogs, he noted, but the university has strategically applied patches – citing as an example the Venture Accelerator program that launched this month.

And Jim Baker, director of the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences, was on hand to embody the efforts of faculty who successfully translate research into economic development. Baker’s talk focused on the rewards of creating new businesses – he observed that one reason why students come to UM is to enhance their economic prospects and improve their lives. Baker talked about the importance of keeping those graduates in Michigan to aid in the state’s economic recovery – and doing that requires jobs. He noted that the four companies he has helped launch in Ann Arbor have brought in $160 million in investments and created 45 new jobs so far.

Regents took action on several items during the meeting, including approval of two projects related to the athletics department: A $52 million renovation and expansion of Crisler Arena – the second phase of a major overhaul of that facility, which was built in 1968; and a $20 million project to install video scoreboards at Michigan Stadium, Crisler Arena and Yost Ice Arena. David Brandon, UM’s athletic director, made a brief appearance at the meeting but did not address the regents publicly. And this month’s biggest athletic-related news at UM – that Brady Hoke was hired as head football coach – received only a mention as part of president Mary Sue Coleman’s opening remarks. He did not attend the meeting.

Seven people spoke during public commentary on a variety of topics. Among them were: (1) a call to reassess Fuller Road Station, a proposed parking structure and possible train station near UM’s medical campus; ( 2) questions about the medical leave of Ken Magee, executive director of UM’s Department of Public Safety (DPS); (3) thanks from the leader of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival for the university’s support of that annual event; (4) criticism of the use of live animals to train survival flight nurses; and (5) a plea for financial support for The Loyal Opposition to the Status Quo (LOSQ), a nonprofit launched to address disparities between African-Americans and Caucasians. [Full Story]

Leadership Change for Art Commission

Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Dec. 14, 2010): On Tuesday, Margaret Parker presided over her final meeting as AAPAC’s chair, a position she’s held since 2004. She had previously announced her intent to step down, with the hope that commissioners would elect a replacement. Parker has been attempting to relinquish the job for more than a year, and the vice chair position has been vacant since December 2009.

Margaret Parker

Margaret Parker, the long-time chair of the Ann Arbor public art commission, stepped down from her leadership role at Tuesday's meeting. The commission haven't yet elected a new chair. (Photos by the writer.)

After some discussion, commissioners decided to postpone the election of officers – no one is eager to take on that responsibility. Instead, they plan to rotate the chairmanship on a monthly basis, until they can come up with a way to resolve the situation.

Tuesday’s meeting also included some debate over how to handle debate and discussion during AAPAC meetings, with Parker’s call for more formality meeting resistance from other commissioners. Parker observed that the city councilmembers don’t debate at their public meetings – they make statements. She felt that AAPAC should use that as a model, to make its meetings more orderly and efficient. A compromise was eventually reached, eliminating some of the stricter rules that Parker proposed.

Commissioners also got updates on several projects, including Fuller Road Station. Though city council hasn’t given final approval to Fuller Road Station – a joint city/University of Michigan parking structure and transit center – work is moving ahead, including the formation of a task force for public art.

For the municipal center – also known as the police/courts building, at Huron and Fifth – AAPAC approved the installation of nine-panel, 27-foot-wide mosaic murals by artist Gerome Kamrowski in the building’s atrium area. The murals were previously located on the outside of city hall, at its main entrance. There was no update available on the municipal center’s largest public art project – the outdoor water sculpture by Herbert Dreiseitl.

Looking ahead, Parker announced that starting next year, AAPAC’s monthly meetings will be held on the first Tuesday of the month, not the second. The request is to accommodate the schedule of AAPAC’s newest commissioner, Malverne Winborne, who did not attend Tuesday’s meeting. [Full Story]

West Park Art Project Nears Completion

Ann Arbor Public Art Commission meeting (Oct. 12, 2010): In a meeting notable for its brevity – lasting one hour, or about a third as long as typical AAPAC monthly meetings – commissioners got updates on several projects, including the Herbert Dreiseitl water sculpture at the municipal center and a new public art installation at West Park.

West Park bandshell

New curving seat walls for the West Park bandshell have already been built, and await the public art installation – two metal tree sculptures to be installed on the ends.

The West Park project is expected to be installed later this month, as part of a major overhaul of the park that’s still in progress. The artwork by Traven Pelletier of Lotus Gardenscapes includes two metal trees that will bookend one of the seat walls facing the park’s bandshell. According to a budget summary distributed at Tuesday’s meeting, the project cost $12,375.

As for Dreiseitl’s piece, the bids from fabricators who’ll actually build the sculpture came in over budget, so to cut costs it will now be made of bronze rather than weathering steel. Quinn Evans Architects, the Ann Arbor firm that’s overseeing the project on contract with the city, also has suggested creating a $12,180 contingency – above the $737,820 budget that city council has approved – to cover potential, additional unbudgeted costs.

At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioner Cathy Gendron announced plans to revamp AAPAC’s page on the city’s website, and said that the public relations committee decided not to renew the URL for its external website – – which had been maintained by a volunteer. That site is now defunct. Commissioner Elaine Sims noted that the University of Michigan recently launched a website for its public art efforts, and wondered if AAPAC’s page could contain similar elements. “It’s a wonderful site, but we just can’t do that,” Gendron said, adding that they’re constrained by the template used by the city. They can be more flexible on AAPAC’s Facebook page, she added.

There was some discussion about recruiting new commissioners, and it was noted that mayor John Hieftje recently made a nomination to fill an AAPAC vacancy – not all commissioners had been aware of this action. Though he wasn’t mentioned by name during Tuesday’s meeting, that nominee is Malverne Winborne, director of Eastern Michigan University’s Charter Schools Office, with a background in organizational development. The city council is expected to vote on his appointment at their Oct. 18 meeting. AAPAC will have an additional vacancy when Jim Curtis resigns – he announced his intent to step down in July and has stopped attending meetings, but hasn’t yet officially resigned. [Full Story]

Fuller Road Station Plan Gets Green Light

Ann Arbor Planning Commission meeting (Sept. 21, 2010): In a marathon meeting that lasted past midnight, the planning commission handled two major projects: Site plan approval for Fuller Road Station, and a medical marijuana zoning ordinance.

Rita Mitchell

Rita Mitchell and Peter Zetlin talk during a break at the Sept. 21 Ann Arbor planning commission meeting. Both spoke against the proposed Fuller Road Station during a public hearing on the site plan. (Photos by the writer.)

City council chambers were packed with people wanting to address the commission on those two issues, which were the final two items on the night’s agenda.

Before getting to those, commissioners dealt with several lower-profile items. One was a request by the owners of Arbor Dog Daycare asking for permission to expand their business. A neighbor came to oppose it, saying “to expand the operation means more barking.” The commission voted on it twice – an initial vote, then a reconsideration at the end of the meeting at the request of commissioner Evan Pratt, who arrived late and missed the first vote. In both cases, the project failed to get the necessary six votes for approval.

The commission also approved the site plan for a Lake Trust Credit Union branch at the southeast corner of West Stadium and Liberty, despite some concerns about tearing down the existing building.

Later in the meeting – after three hours of staff presentations, a public hearing and commissioner deliberations – Fuller Road Station’s site plan did win approval, with two commissioners dissenting. The project will now move to city council for a vote.

And the final public hearing of the night – on zoning changes that would regulate dispensaries and “home occupations” for medical marijuana – drew 15 speakers. All of them, to varying degrees, urged commissioners not to restrict safe access to medical marijuana. The planning staff had recommended postponement, and commissioners followed that advice. They voted unanimously to postpone action on the proposal, allowing time to incorporate feedback heard during the meeting’s public hearing. The commission is expected to take up the issue again at its Oct. 5 meeting. [Full Story]

Public Turns Out to Support Huron Hills Golf

Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission meeting (Aug. 17, 2010): About 30 residents attended Tuesday’s PAC meeting, many of them speaking against the city’s plan to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for the Huron Hills Golf Course. Several expressed concerns about what they see as the city’s attempt to privatize the course, which they described as a beautiful, beloved parkland asset. Some said it made no sense that Ann Arbor supported a greenbelt millage to preserve open space outside the city, while selling development rights to parkland it already owns within the city.

People attending the Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission

About 30 people attended the Aug. 17 Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission meeting. Prior to the start, city councilmember Mike Anglin (far right) talks with Nancy Kaplan. Standing at the left is William Newcomb, a member of the city's golf task force, talking with PAC chair Julie Grand. In the foreground are Sandra Arlinghaus and William Arlinghaus. (Photos by the writer.)

The issue drew two city councilmembers to the meeting – Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) – as well as former and current council candidates Sumi Kailasapathy, Jack Eaton and John Floyd. Councilmember Mike Anglin, who serves as an ex-officio member of PAC, also attended. Former planning commissioner Sandra Arlinghaus and her son William Arlinghaus both spoke to PAC, urging them to widen the scope of the RFP so that it might include more creative possibilities, like a location for cremains.

A couple of people also spoke in opposition of the Fuller Road Station project, citing similarities with the Huron Hills situation. In both cases, they said, the city is attempting to use parkland for other purposes. The Fuller Road Station is a proposed parking structure and bus depot, which might someday include a train station.

During deliberations, most commissioners voiced support for the RFP, noting that the golf course – though doing better – is still losing money. [The accounting method used to determine how the golf course is performing financially was a point of contention by some speakers during public commentary.] Several commissioners pointed out that the city is under no obligation to accept any of the proposals that might be submitted. And Colin Smith, manager of parks and recreation, emphasized that the city would retain ownership of the land – there are no plans to sell Huron Hills, he said. He also noted that the RFP calls for proposals to be golf-related.

The plan is to issue the RFP on Sept. 3, with responses due at the end of October. A selection committee will review the proposals and make a recommendation to PAC, probably in December. City council would make the final decision on whether to proceed with any of the proposals. [Full Story]

Site Plan Filed for Fuller Road Station

The cardboard box sat on the counter of the Ann Arbor planning department’s sixth floor city hall offices, stuffed with copies of the Fuller Road Station site plan, which was submitted to the city Monday morning.

Copies of the site plan for Fuller Road Station

Multiple copies of the site plan for Fuller Road Station were filed this morning with the city's planning department. The hand in the photo belongs to Matt Kowalski of the city's planning staff. (Photos by the writer.)

The submission of the site plan – 44 oversized pages of details about the project’s engineering, architecture and landscaping – marks the start of the formal approval process with the city, after months of debate and discussion. The $46 million project is proposed for city-owned property south of Fuller Road and north of the University of Michigan medical campus. The site plan is for the first phase of the project – a five-level parking structure and bus depot. Officials envision that a later phase will include a station for commuter and high-speed rail, though funding for that is still uncertain.

Jeff Kahan, the city planner who’ll be shepherding the project through the approval process, told The Chronicle that it will be on the planning commission’s agenda no earlier than Sept. 21. [Full Story]

Seniors Host Ann Arbor Mayoral Forum

In his introductory remarks, Bill Kinley joked that this was the first mayoral debate – and possibly the last ever – held at University Commons, a condominium community for people over 55 that was founded by University of Michigan faculty. They’d have to see how it turned out, he said.

Bill Kinley

Bill Kinley moderated a mayoral debate at University Commons on Monday between incumbent John Hieftje and challenger Patricia Lesko.

Kinley, a University Commons resident and local developer, moderated Monday’s event, which drew about 50 people to listen as incumbent mayor John Hieftje and challenger Patricia Lesko answered questions for an hour on a range of topics, from Argo Dam and Fuller Road Station to the city budget and possible income tax.

It’s the latest in a series of exchanges between the two candidates, as the Democrats head into next week’s Aug. 3 primary election. [See Chronicle coverage: "Ann Arbor Forums: The More, The Mayor-ier" and "Ann Arbor Dems Primary: Mayoral Race."]

After introducing the candidates, Kinley cautioned that the residents there are “a group of wordy people.” They know that “platform” and “platitude” derive from the French word “plat,” he said, “so if you can keep platitudes to a minimum, you’ll find the reception here is much more responsive.”

Each candidate was given two minutes to answer the question. The first person who answered was also given the option of an additional one minute response. Questions had been developed by Kinley and the program committee for University Commons. [Full Story]

Two Dam Options for Argo

Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission meeting (July 20, 2010): At their July meeting, park commissioners received updates on two projects that have drawn a fair amount of controversy: Argo Dam, and the Fuller Road Station.

Piezometers at Argo Dam

Looking down from the Argo Dam embankment, toward the Huron River. The blue metal casings hold piezometers to measure water pressures in the earthen berm. (Photos by the writer.)

First up was Argo, and city staff outlined details of a consent agreement signed with state regulators in May, which identifies steps the city must take to deal with safety issues at the dam. The city will be pursuing two options: getting bids to repair the toe drains on the dam’s earthen embankment; and issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for an entire embankment reconstruction. Ultimately, city council will choose between the options, based in part on a recommendation from PAC.

During public commentary, two speakers affiliated with the Huron River Watershed Council urged commissioners also to recommend  getting a bid for an additional option – removal of the dam. And during a discussion after the staff presentation, commissioner Tim Berla called out the city council for not taking a vote on the dam-in/dam-out question. He said that by not voting, the council essentially made a back-door decision not to remove the dam. From an accountability standpoint, he said, a vote should be taken.

Commissioners were also updated on Fuller Road Station, a large parking structure and transit center – and possibly a train station eventually – proposed to be built on city land that’s designated as parkland. The joint project by the city and the University of Michigan was the subject of a resolution that PAC passed at its June 15 meeting, asking city council for more transparency in the process and to ensure the project results in a net revenue gain for the parks system. During the July 20 presentation at PAC, initial designs were presented and potential funding sources were discussed. Eli Cooper, the city’s transportation program manager, also told commissioners that Greyhound, which had initially expressed interest in the station, has now backed off – at this point, it doesn’t appear the bus company will use that site.

Later in the meeting, commissioner Dave Barrett gave an update on work that he and Berla are doing to assess the condition of the city’s ballfields. Some fields are in really bad shape, he reported. “It’s fair to say we have some work to do.” [Full Story]

Art Commission Acts on Dreiseitl Proposal

Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (July 13, 2010): A significant increase in cost and several design issues resulted in rejection by AAPAC of one art installation proposed by German artist Herbert Dreiseitl, and the postponement of another. The votes followed an animated discussion on the proposals.

A drawing that shows the proposed art installation by Herbert Dreiseitl for the lobby of the new police/courts building on Fifth and Huron.

A drawing that shows the proposed art installation by Herbert Dreiseitl for the lobby of the new police/courts building on Fifth and Huron. The piece includes etched blue glass panels, on the right, and blue glass bulbs hanging from the ceiling, in the left corner of this drawing. Commissioners voted to postpone action on this work, with plans to ask Dreiseitl to cap the cost at $75,000.

Commissioners voted to postpone a proposal for artwork in the lobby of the city’s new municipal center – the artwork has a budget of $141,218. They plan to ask Dreiseitl to cap the project at $75,000. With dissent from chair Margaret Parker, they rejected a work proposed for the center’s atrium, with a budget of $73,806, citing concerns over the cost, design and durability of the material.

In other business, the group got an update on their involvement in the proposed Fuller Road Station, with commissioner Cathy Gendron reporting that the project architects have already selected the location, materials and theme for public art on the parking structure and transit facility. “I had no idea that things were so far along at this project,” she said.

And a vote to allocate funds for repair of the Sun Dragon Sculpture at Fuller Pool prompted a broader discussion on how to handle maintenance costs for public art.

Some organizational changes are in the works, too. Commissioner Jim Curtis announced plans to step down at the end of 2010, to devote more time as a board member for the startup Ann Arbor Main Street Business Improvement Zone (BIZ). AAPAC will be recruiting a replacement for him. And Katherine Talcott, who has served as the part-time public art administrator, has signed a new one-year contract with the city – in the role of an art project manager. She’ll be handling the Dreiseitl project, Fuller Road Station and other projects that are assigned to her by Sue McCormick, the city’s public services administrator. The job of public art administrator is being restructured, and has not yet been filled. [Full Story]

Land Uses Expand; Plan Regs Relaxed

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (July 6, 2010) Part 2: The two main events of the council’s Tuesday meeting were consideration of a historic district on Fourth and Fifth avenues and a resolution opposing Arizona’s recently passed law requiring local law enforcement officers to follow up on possibly undocumented immigrants.


Eunice Burns and Shirley Axon, co-founders of Huron River Day, were at the podium to receive a proclamation honoring the event to be held July 11. (Photos by the writer.)

Public commentary and deliberations on those two issues sent the council’s meeting well past midnight. [Chronicle coverage of those issues is included in Part 1 of this meeting report: "Unscripted: Historic District, Immigration"]

The council transacted a lot of other business as well. Councilmembers approved a change to the zoning code that modifies the list of allowable uses for public land so that the planned Fuller Road Station can be accommodated. Also passed was a change to the site plan approval process, which relaxes the requirement that up-to-date site plans be accessible to the public on a 24/7 basis.

Parks were front and center, and not just because of the public hearing and council action on allowable uses of public land. At the start of the meeting, a proclamation was made for Huron River Day, which takes place at Gallup Park on Sunday, July 11. And the council continued its pattern at the first meeting of the month of recognizing volunteers who help maintain the city’s parks through the Adopt-a-Park program.

In other action, the council approved the $2.5 million purchase of development rights for the 286-acre Braun farm in Ann Arbor Township, as recommended by the city’s greenbelt advisory commission, and established a residential parking permit program for the South University area. [Full Story]

Park Commission Asks for Transparency

Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission meeting (June 15, 2010): A temporary venue change led more than two dozen people to the Community Television Network studios for this month’s PAC meeting.

Colin Smith, Tim Doyle

Colin Smith, left, the city's parks and recreation manager, talks with Tim Doyle, who was attending his first meeting as a new park advisory commissioner. Doyle replaced the position formerly occupied by Scott Rosencrans, who did not seek reappointment. (Photos by the writer.)

The main agenda item was consideration of two resolutions regarding Fuller Road Station, and many people who attended the meeting were there to address commissioners on that topic – most of them protesting the use of city parkland for what will, at least initially, be a large parking structure and bus depot, built in partnership with the University of Michigan.

Park commissioners have expressed concerns about the project, and resolutions were crafted to address those issues, including a possible financial loss to the parks system and a lack of transparency in the process.

At several points during deliberations, Christopher Taylor – a city councilmember and ex-officio member of PAC – defended the process, indicating that while it was a misstep that PAC wasn’t formally asked for input, there had been many opportunities for public participation.

PAC ultimately approved a resolution that asks city council to make available a complete plan of Fuller Road Station – including any significant proposed agreements, such as what the university will pay the city for use of the structure – allowing sufficient time for a presentation at a televised PAC meeting before council votes on the project. The resolution also asks that staff and council ensure the project results in a net revenue gain for the parks system.

Several other speakers during public commentary addressed the issue of Huron Hills Golf Course, and expressed concerns that the city would seek to privatize it. During his manager’s report, Colin Smith told commissioners that a draft request for proposals (RFP) regarding Huron Hills won’t be finished until August at the earliest, and will be brought to PAC for review before being issued by the city.

The meeting also included a presentation by Molly Notarianni, the city’s market manager, with an update on the farmers market and public market activities.

Tuesday’s meeting was also the first for PAC’s newest commissioner, Tim Doyle. Doyle was recently appointed by city council to replace Scott Rosencrans, who did not seek reappointment. In welcoming him, PAC chair Julie Grand joked: “You picked a good one to start.” [Full Story]

PAC Softens Stance on Fuller Road Station

Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission working session (June 1, 2010): Members of the Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission took another crack at drafting a resolution regarding the proposed Fuller Road Station, softening some of the language that had previously called for city council to abandon the project. The station includes a large parking structure, bus depot and possible train station for commuter rail, to be built in partnership with the University of Michigan near the UM medical complex.

The changes are in response to a plea for unity by mayor John Hieftje, who had attended PAC’s May 18 meeting where he spoke with commissioners for an hour about their concerns. He told commissioners that the city has a better chance of getting federal funding for the project if they show a united front.

PAC members have been concerned that if the project moves forward, the city would receive less revenue from UM for parking than it currently gets from the surface lots it leases to the university on Fuller Road. Those revenues support the city’s park operations. Among other issues, some commissioners are also troubled that the structure is to be built on land that’s designated as parkland, and that there’s been limited opportunity for public input.

Immediately following a June 1 meeting of PAC’s land acquisition committee, which includes all members of the commission, PAC members stayed for a working session on the Fuller Road Station. Chair Julie Grand brought a revised resolution to consider, and the group thrashed through issues and language to come up with a draft that will be discussed at PAC’s June 15 regular meeting.

In addition, commissioner Tim Berla plans to propose an alternative resolution, which he emailed to other PAC members on Monday. His resolution focuses on process – asking that the city council and staff be fully transparent in providing details about the agreement to the public. [Full Story]

Hieftje Urges Unity on Fuller Road Station

Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission meeting (May 18, 2010): During an hour-long presentation and Q&A, Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje urged park commissioners to support the proposed Fuller Road Station, saying he’d like the city to present a unified front as they pursue federal funding for the $46 million project – a large parking structure, bus depot and possible train station for commuter rail.

Amy Kuras, Jim Kosteva

Jim Kosteva, right, talks with Ann Arbor parks planner Amy Kuras during Tuesday's meeting of the Ann Arbor park advisory commission. Kosteva, director of community relations for the University of Michigan, was on hand for a discussion of the Fuller Road Station, though he did not address the commission. (Photos by the writer.)

Heiftje’s presentation had not been on the agenda, but the commission was set to discuss a resolution that called for city council to stop the project, or at the least negotiate better terms with its partner, the University of Michigan. Several commissioners have expressed concerns about the project, which would be on city-owned property designated as parkland. Under proposed terms – which Hieftje said are not finalized – the city would receive less revenue from UM for parking than it currently gets from the surface lots it leases to the university on Fuller Road. Those revenues support the city’s parks operations.

Another public meeting on the project is set for Wednesday, June 2, from 7-9 p.m. at city council chambers, 100 N. Fifth Ave.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners got a brief update on the urban forestry management plan – the first of two public meetings is set for Thursday at Tappan Middle School from 7-9 p.m. to get input on developing a plan to manage the city’s trees.

The artist selected for a public art project at West Park – Traven Pelletier of Lotus Gardenscapes – spoke briefly about his design. And in a third-quarter financial update for parks and recreation, commissioner Sam Offen reported that they’re in better shape than expected, needing less general fund support than they had originally budgeted for the current fiscal year. [Full Story]

Better Deal Desired for Fuller Road Station

Two city commissions on Tuesday addressed two very different actions related to Fuller Road Station, a joint city of Ann Arbor/University of Michigan project that initially will entail a large parking structure and bus station, with possibly a train station for commuter rail years down the road.

Gwen Nystuen, David Barrett, Doug Chapman

Park advisory commissioners Gwen Nystuen, David Barrett and Doug Chapman at Tuesday's meeting of PAC's land acquisition committee, held at Cobblestone Farm. Nystuen has been pushing for more input into the Fuller Road Station project. (Photos by the writer.)

Spurred by concerns that Ann Arbor parks are being shortchanged, members of the city’s park advisory commission (PAC) discussed a resolution on Tuesday that would urge city council not to proceed with plans for Fuller Road Station at its proposed site on city-owned land that’s designated as parkland.

The draft resolution also states that if the city council does continue with the project, the city should renegotiate the deal to get additional revenues from the University of Michigan, with those funds being allocated to city parks. The resolution calls for an annual payment of $127,500 from the university – under the current agreement, UM would pay $19,379 per year, starting in 2012.

Park commissioners didn’t take any action, and plan to discuss the draft resolution further at their May 18 meeting.

But Tuesday evening, the city’s planning commission did take action related to Fuller Road Station. They voted unanimously to amend the list of permitted principal uses of public land – specifically, changing a “municipal airports” use to “transportation facilities.” During a public hearing on the issue, several speakers – including park commissioner Gwen Nystuen – objected to the change.

It’s expected that the project – located on the south side of Fuller Road, just east of East Medical Center Drive – will be submitted by the design team on May 17 for review by planning staff. It will likely come before the planning commission at its first meeting in July. A public meeting on the project is set for Thursday, May 6 at 7 p.m. in the second-floor city council chambers, 100 N. Fifth Ave. [Full Story]

Pleas for Human, Safety Services at Council

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (May 3, 2010): Several speakers addressed the city council at its Monday meeting asking for continued funding for human services and to avoid layoffs in the city’s police and fire departments.

Fire fighters informational picket

Firefighters held an informational demonstration Monday afternoon before the city council's meeting at Station 1, which is located across the street from city hall. Firefighters from Flint, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Ann Arbor Township, Ypsilanti, Battle Creek and Ann Arbor took part in the demonstration. (Photos by the writer.)

And Margie Teall (Ward 4), who faces two challengers in the August Democratic primary, announced a planned amendment to the city’s proposed budget that would maintain human services funding at FY 2010 levels. The amendment, which will be brought forward at the council’s May 17 meeting, would also avert as many layoffs in the police and fire departments as possible, she said.

The previous evening at the council’s Sunday night caucus, Mike Anglin (Ward 5) and Sabra Briere (Ward 1) had already indicated they would support using part of a possible $2 million payment from the Downtown Development Authority to avoid police and firefighter layoffs.

The council’s plan for funding the amendment, reported Teall, is to use a $2 million payment from the Downtown Development Authority that it hopes the DDA board will approve at its May 5 board meeting. Even if the DDA board approves the payment, which is very likely but not certain, not all safety services layoffs in the city administrator’s proposed budget could be covered. Averting the elimination of 35 positions across police and fire departments combined would require $3.6 million. The restoration of human services funding would require another $260,000. And that would still result in the city tapping its general fund reserves for $1.5 million.

In its business for the evening, the council passed a resolution added late Monday to the council agenda, which strikes an agreement between the city and the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment for the future of the embankment along Argo Dam. It will allow the headrace to be re-opened by the end of this week.

The council also approved on first reading a revision to the city’s sidewalk occupancy permit system to include sandwich board signs. And the residential development now called Heritage Row – proposed along Fifth Avenue south of William Street – was approved at the council’s first reading with no discussion, but with dissent from Mike Anglin. Both of those measures will need to come back before the council for a second reading to gain approval.

The council also approved received the mayor’s nomination of the appointment of Anya Dale to the AATA board, replacing Paul Ajegba, whose term expired on May 1. Ajegba had been elected by his colleagues last fall to chair the board. Dale is a Washtenaw County planner. Her appointment will be presented for confirmation at the council’s May 17, 2010 meeting.

The council also approved some additional road closures for the June 6 Dexter-Ann Arbor Run. [Full Story]

Transportation Talk at City Council Caucus

Ann Arbor City Council Sunday night caucus (May 2, 2010): Transportation was one of the main focuses of conversation at last night’s city council caucus, which is held on the Sunday before the council’s regular meeting.

Hieftje Briere Kunselman

Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) listen to a presentation from the Committee for the Preservation of Community Quality at the city council's Sunday night caucus. (Photo by the writer.)

The Committee for the Preservation of Community Quality gave a presentation of their response to the recently conducted environmental assessment of a possible runway extension at the Ann Arbor municipal airport. And residents expressed concerns about the proposed Fuller Road Station and its location on city-owned land designated as a park in the city’s PROS (Parks and Recreation Open Space) Plan.

By the time questions about the possible upcoming budget amendments were raised, the number of councilmembers attending the caucus had dwindled from four to two. Mayor John Hieftje, Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), and Mike Anglin (Ward 5) were there through most of the meeting, but it concluded with just Briere and Anglin.

And at the tail end of the gathering, the residents who attended weighed in on the nature of caucus itself. They offered their perceptions of the value of discussions among councilmembers at the caucus versus their own remarks. They’d prefer to see councilmembers in action and would be willing to trade some of their own time for watching the work of council. [Full Story]

Investments: Housing, Bridges, Transit

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (April 19, 2010) Part 2: In Part 1 of this meeting report, we focused on the city’s budget process, parking issues and the University of Michigan commencement exercises.

In Part 2, we wrap up other topics of the meeting. One common theme was capital investments in the community’s physical infrastructure of various kinds.

Michael Nearing city of Ann Arbor engineer

Michael Nearing, city of Ann Arbor engineer, was available for any city council questions on the East Stadium bridge project. (Photo by the writer.)

The council allocated a total of $313,000 for three different permanent affordable housing projects in Ann Arbor.

The city’s East Stadium bridge replacement project received discussion in the form of a resolution that authorized the city to go after state funding for the third time in the last three years. The anticipated construction start for fall of this year has been postponed until spring 2011 – the earlier date had been tied to the city’s application for federal funding, which was rejected this February.

The ongoing construction of the police/courts building, directly adjacent to city hall (the Larcom Building), received some tangential discussion in the form of an explanation from Roger Fraser about the recent closure of city hall due to elevated carbon monoxide levels. The police/courts building was also the subject of public commentary that prompted some extended remarks from the mayor – which were covered in Part 1 of this report.

Another construction project that will likely factor into the upcoming primary election campaigns is Fuller Road Station. The city-university collaboration to build a combined parking deck and bus station, which might eventually serve as a commuter rail station, was taken up during the council’s communications time. Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and mayor John Hieftje both responded to some cautionary remarks made by Mike Anglin (Ward 5), which he made based on a recent park advisory commission meeting.

In business related to ethics and rules, the council voted on two occasions to excuse the participation of Taylor in a vote, because of a conflict of interest posed by his employment with the law firm Butzel Long. They also satisfied the requirement of a recent lawsuit settlement that they formally consider a rule about their use of government email accounts – by voting to remand consideration of the issue to council’s rules committee. [Full Story]

AATA Gets Its Fill of Fuller Road Station

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (April 21, 2010): On Wednesday, Eli Cooper, the city of Ann Arbor’s transportation program manager, gave the AATA board an update on Phase One of Fuller Road Station – a city-university collaboration to build a combined parking structure, bus station and bicycle amenity south of Fuller Road, abutting the University of Michigan medical campus. The project envisions eventual integration of a train station for east-west commuter rail, if service along the Detroit-Ann Arbor corridor can be established.

Eli Cooper Ann Arbor Transportation Manager

Eli Cooper, the city of Ann Arbor's transportation program manager, sets up his visual aids for the Fuller Road Station. (Photos by the writer.)

Confronted with skepticism from board member David Nacht, who expressed his doubts that the rail service would ever become a reality, Cooper urged a “glass as half full” view of the project. Cooper was buoyed in part by a recent phone call he’d received from the Michigan Dept. of Transportation about another round of funding that the Federal Railroad Administration will be making available.

AATA board member Sue McCormick also gave some shape to the city’s funding strategy for its share of the Fuller Road Station project: Once the environmental impact study is completed, that will make it possible for the local transit agency – in this case, the AATA – to apply for federal funds for the project. That’s consistent with the message thus far from city officials, who have said that whatever the funding strategy will be, it won’t involve city general fund money.

In its main business items of the meeting, the board approved a contract worth $399,805.32 with a consultant, Steer Davies Gleave, to head up the formulation of a transportation master plan (TMP), which will underpin the AATA’s effort to expand its service countywide. The board also approved an allocation of $350,000 for a period ending March 31, 2012, that will allow the AATA to task one of three public relations firms for work, depending on the nature of the project: The Rossman Group, Ilium Associates, and re:group.

Both resolutions passed, with dissent from the board’s treasurer, Ted Annis.

The board made a decision at its March board meeting to change its meeting time and location to Thursdays at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library. Although it was discussed then that the new time and location would begin in two months, board discussion on Wednesday suggested that the target for changing the new time is now August 2010. [Full Story]

Park Commission OKs Fee Increases, Budget

Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission meeting (April 20, 2010): At Tuesday’s meeting, park commissioners gave their blessing to proposed fee increases and the parks budget for FY 2011, recommending that city council approve both items.

Karen Levin, Gwen Nystuen, David Barrett

Gwen Nystuen, center, passes out copies of a draft resolution to Karen Levin and David Barrett, her colleagues on the Ann Arbor park advisory commission. Nystuen is proposing that PAC form a subcommittee to review the impact of the Fuller Road Station. (Photos by the writer)

The proposed budget would keep all of the city’s 157 parks open, but would cut back maintenance – mowing and snow removal – on 17 parks. The budget also proposes keeping open Mack Pool and the Ann Arbor Senior Center, which had previously been slated to close. A handful of supporters for those two groups who attended Tuesday’s meeting applauded when commissioners approved the budget.

Only one commissioner – Gwen Nystuen – voted against recommending the budget, citing objections to a proposed rollback of funds for the city’s Natural Area Preservation (NAP) program.

Nystuen also floated a proposal to form a subcommittee that would review the impact of the Fuller Road Station. That project, which is jointly funded by the city and the University of Michigan, would initially include a large parking structure and bus station on city-owned land that’s designated as parkland. Nystuen has been vocal about her concerns over setting a precedent with this project, and frustrated that PAC hasn’t taken a more active role on the issue.

Commissioners also got a brief update on the status of an RFP being drafted by city staff for the possible privatization of the Huron Hills Golf Course, and heard from an organizer of the Ann Arbor skatepark during public commentary, who invited commissioners to an April 25 design workshop. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Caucus: Fires, Fines, Fuller

Ann Arbor City Council Sunday night caucus (April 18, 2010): Access to city hall for the caucus on Sunday evening required a manual unlocking of doors with assistance from the Ann Arbor police department. But after gaining lawful entry, about a half-dozen residents discussed a range of topics with the three councilmembers who attended – mayor John Hieftje, Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3).

Bob Snyder couch fire

Bob Snyder reads aloud from the preliminary report of the Ann Arbor fire department, which summarizes the events of a recent nighttime house fire that killed one resident.

A recent fire on South State Street, which killed a resident of the house that burned, prompted a call to revisit a 2004 proposal to ban from porches the use of indoor furniture, like couches. That measure was ultimately tabled by the council six years ago, left to demise without any action.

A couple of residents expressed some disappointment that the councilmembers would not be discussing the budget that evening, but budgetary topics did make their way into the conversation. Chief among them were the relationship of the new parking fine schedule – which is expected to generate an extra $635,000 for the FY 2011 budget – to the parking plan that’s scheduled to be presented on Monday night to the council by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.

Questions about the planned Fuller Road Station were also raised, including the plan for financing the project. That project is not on Monday night’s agenda. But a different major capital project does have an associated Monday agenda item: the East Stadium bridge replacement. The item involves authorization for the city to apply for funds from the state’s local bridge fund – the city’s most recent application was denied. Caucus attendees heard Hieftje explain that the city would delay the start of replacement construction from fall 2010 to spring 2011, to allow for another round of funding applications.

The council also got an update on one resident’s ongoing efforts to move a mid-block crosswalk in front of King Elementary School to an intersection where cars already stop. [Full Story]

Indefinite Busy Signal for Cell Phone Ban

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (April 5, 2010) Part 2: The greatest part of the council’s meeting last week – covered in Part 1 of our report – was taken up with the public hearing and deliberations on The Moravian project, which failed to get the 8-vote super majority it needed for approval. However, the council handled other business besides The Moravian.

Kirk Westphal

Kirk Westphal addressed the city council as a private citizen on the issue of the cell phone ordinance – he serves on the city’s planning commission. He encouraged councilmembers to pursue the ordinance. (Photos by the writer.)

Among that business was a proposed local ordinance banning cell phone use while driving or bicycling. The council decided not to repeat a postponement to a particular date for its consideration of the cell phone ban. Instead, the council tabled the ordinance. Tabling means that the ordinance can be brought back for consideration by the council, but by council rule it will die unless it is brought back within six months.

The council’s business included an item that would have reconsidered its recent decision to replace the entire Ann Arbor housing commission board. The motion for reconsideration was voted down, with no support, not even from its two sponsors – Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). Kunselman cited the late hour as part of the reason for his lack of enthusiasm for pursuing the matter. Two people had spoken during public commentary on the issue, including one of the ousted board members.

Also receiving brief discussion was a possible council rule on email that the council must consider publicly at its next meeting under terms of a recent lawsuit settlement. Two proclamations were also made, one to declare April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month and the other as part of a recent move by the council to honor parks volunteers once a month. [Full Story]

Concerns Voiced Over Fuller Road Station

Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission meeting (March 16, 2010): Fuller Road Station was the focus of this month’s PAC meeting, including a presentation by Eli Cooper and others on the project’s team. Five people spoke on the topic during public commentary as well – all of them concerned about the proposed parking structure and transit center.

Greta Brunschwyler, Sam Offen, Jason Frenzel

From left: Greta Brunschwyler, the new executive director at the Leslie Science & Nature Center, talks with park advisory commissioner Sam Offen and Jason Frenzel, volunteer and outreach coordinator for the city's Natural Area Preservation program, prior to the March 16 PAC meeting. (Photo by the writer.)

Several commissioners had pointed questions for Cooper. Sam Offen pressed him on the issue of revenues, noting that when the parking structure is built, the university might have no need for the spaces it leases from the city on the opposite side of Fuller Road – resulting in a loss of about $38,000 per year to the city.

Also attending the meeting was Greta Brunschwyler, the new executive director at the Leslie Science and Nature Center, who started the job on March 4 and came to introduce herself to park commissioners and staff.

Leslie Science and Nature Center is where Jason Frenzel’s office is located. Frenzel, volunteer and outreach coordinator for the city’s Natural Area Preservation program, gave a brief presentation about volunteer opportunities.

Scott Rosencrans, PAC’s chair, wasn’t able to attend the meeting, which was led in his absence by vice chair John Lawter. Lawter announced that Rosencrans has decided not to seek reappointment to PAC when his term ends in mid-April. So not only will PAC need to elect a new chair, Lawter said, there will also be an opening on the commission. [Full Story]

UM Regents Skate Through Agenda

University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting (March 18, 2010): Thursday’s meeting was a routine, relatively brief session – punctuated rather dramatically by the arrival of four Olympic ice dancers, who turned the regents, as one of them observed, into “total groupies.”

Meryl Davis, Martin Taylor, Mary Sue Coleman

UM president Mary Sue Coleman, right, talks with Olympic silver medalist Meryl Davis, left, while regent Martin Taylor looks on. Davis is one of four ice dancers who attend UM and who competed in the winter Olympics. (Photos by the writer)

During the less rambunctious portions of the meeting, regents approved two building renovations – at the Duderstadt Center and Lorch Hall – totaling $3.8 million. They also authorized the awarding of six honorary degrees at the May 1 commencement ceremony, including one to the keynote speaker, President Barack Obama.

The main presentation of the afternoon came from Laurita Thomas, associate vice president for human resources, who updated regents on the status of employee benefits.

At the end of the meeting, one person spoke during public commentary. Ann Arbor resident Rita Mitchell urged regents not to proceed with the Fuller Road Station project, a joint UM/city of Ann Arbor parking structure and transit center planned on city-owned land near the university’s medical campus. She argued that the project violated both the spirit and intent of a city charter amendment passed in 2008, which requires voters to approve the sale of city parkland.

Thursday’s meeting was in its usual location – the boardroom in the Fleming administration building, on Thompson Street. UM president Mary Sue Coleman reminded regents that next month’s meeting will be held in a different venue: the city of Grand Rapids. [Full Story]

To Do: Bicycle Registry, Transit Station

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (March 1, 2010) Part 2: Editor’s note: The major themes of the council meeting – the 3% budget directive, a ban on use of cell phones while driving, and a planned unit development called The Moravian – are covered in Part 1 of the March 1, 2010 meeting meeting report.

Larry Deck WBWC

Larry Deck, board member of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition, addressed the council during the public hearing on the repeal of the city's bicycle registration system. (Photos by the writer.)

The council scrapped the city’s existing bicycle registration program at its Monday night meeting, but gave an assurance to a representative of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition that it would soon be replaced with something better.

Mayor John Hieftje used his communications time to rebut criticism of the planned Fuller Road Station – both with respect to its funding and its siting. While he assured critics that funding for the project would not come from the general fund, he allowed that he did not know how the project would be paid for.

And Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) reiterated enthusiasm for Ann Arbor’s response to a request for information by Google about a local fiber-optic network. He had also introduced the topic at a recent council meeting focusing on the budget.

The city administrator’s report to the council included updates on construction projects.

The city also continued a monthly recognition of its parks volunteers with a mayoral proclamation honoring Praveena and Madhan Ramaswami for their efforts to improve Bromley Park by organizing biannual events to remove invasive plants, plant flowers, and clean up the park. [Full Story]

Transit Forum Critiques Fuller Road Station

Chris Leinberger was blunt in his assessment of the proposed Fuller Road Station: If the parking structure is built as proposed, in 20 years it will be torn down.

Fuller Road parking lot

The city-owned Fuller Road parking lot, site of the proposed Fuller Road Station. To the south of the lot is the University of Michigan medical complex. (Photos by the writer.)

Speaking at a forum on transit-oriented development, Leinberger – a University of Michigan professor of practice in urban planning – said current plans for the joint UM/city of Ann Arbor project do a good job of incorporating different kinds of transit, from bikes and buses to perhaps, eventually, commuter rail.

But Leinberger criticized the project for taking some of Ann Arbor’s most valuable land and turning it into something that won’t generate revenue for the city. He told Eli Cooper, the city’s transportation program manager, that “whoever’s in your position 20 years from now will tear it down.”

Monday’s forum, held at the UM Art & Architecture building on north campus, was organized by members of the WALLY Coalition and the 208 Group, among others, to focus on local transit-oriented development efforts. Moderated by local developer Peter Allen, the event included presentations by Cooper, Richard Murphy of the city of Ypsilanti and Shea Charles, Howell’s city manager. [Full Story]

Fleshing Out Fuller Road Station

At left: Architect John Mouat, a member of the Fuller Road Station design team, talks with Eli Cooper, the city's transportation manager, before the start of the Feb. 10 citizen participation forum. Moaut is a partner in the Ann Arbor firm of Mitchell and Mouat. (Photos by the writer.)

At left: Architect John Mouat, a member of the Fuller Road Station design team, talks with Eli Cooper, the city's transportation program manager, before the start of the Feb. 10 citizen participation forum. Mouat is a partner in the Ann Arbor firm of Mitchell and Mouat. (Photos by the writer.)

For Eli Cooper, the city of Ann Arbor’s transportation program manager, a project like the proposed Fuller Road Station happens “once in a lifetime” – an opportunity for the city, he says, to take a vision and make it reality in a fairly short time.

What it will take to reach that reality was the topic of a Feb. 10 public meeting on the Fuller Road Station, a joint University of Michigan/city of Ann Arbor project. Its first phase entails a parking structure with about 1,000 spaces – nearly 80% of them earmarked for UM use.

But much of the presentation by city staff and members of the design team focused on the broader goals for that site, which they hope will eventually include a train station for commuter rail. [Full Story]

AATA Board: Get Bids to Rebuild Blake

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (Dec. 16, 2009): At its regular meeting Wednesday night, the AATA board gave authorization to staff to solicit bids for the demolition, design and construction of a replacement for the Blake Transit Center, located in downtown Ann Arbor on Fourth Avenue.

AATA temporary board room

At its headquarters on South Industrial Avenue, the AATA board tried out a makeshift venue for its Wednesday board meeting, because it offered an additional 12 seats for audience members, compared to the actual boardroom. Conceptual plans for the new Blake Transit transit center downtown include a boardroom. (Photos by the writer.)

The conceptual design calls for the new center to be constructed on the same footprint as the old center, with flexibility to expand, if abutting property were to become available.

The hope for flexibility on the Blake Transit Center design had also surfaced earlier in the day, at the Downtown Development Authority‘s transportation committee meeting. There, the concept of Fourth Avenue as a transit corridor had been floated by DDA executive director Susan Pollay.

In other business, the board kept the discussion going on the question of how to proceed in expanding its service to include more of Washtenaw County. But they did not consider any resolutions related to formation of a new, expanded public transit authority. As part of the effort to expand, a general board consensus emerged that the public needed to be educated about what public transit is, and how the AATA worked.

Related to the need to educate the public about what the AATA does was the treasurer’s report, submitted by Ted Annis, which recommended greater financial transparency through posting various financial data on the AATA website. The specific suggestion to post employee salaries was not embraced by all on the board, but the suggestions were remanded to the performance monitoring and external relations committee (PMER).

And a response by staff to the November treasurer’s report highlighted a potential point of contention in estimating revenues available for funding an expanded service. Specifically, how much revenue could be expected from fares in an expanded service? [Full Story]

Council OKs Recycling, Transit, Shelter

people standing in a semi-circle

Left to right: Brian Nord and Caleb Poirier (back to camera), who are both advocates for Camp Take Notice, a self-governed encampment of homeless people. Also Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and Mayor John Hieftje. (Photo by the writer.)

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (Nov. 5, 2009): Meeting on Thursday due to the elections, instead of in its usual Monday slot, Ann Arbor’s city council moved ahead on two major initiatives that will eventually have a significant impact on Ann Arbor residents.

The council approved a memorandum of understanding with the University of Michigan to move forward on joint development of the Fuller Road Station, which offers the university an alternative to construction of a parking deck on Wall Street. The first phase of the project is anticipated to be completed in mid-June 2012.

Also given a green light was a conversion to single-stream recycling – a single cart will be distributed to residents to replace the twin totes currently used for curbside pickup. The new carts will be rolled out in June 2010.

A more immediate impact will be made by a council decision to allocate a combined $159,500 to the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County and the Interfaith Hospitality Network – the funds will increase the sheltering capacity by 50 spots for individuals through the winter, starting Dec. 1, and provide housing vouchers for eight families for a year. [Full Story]