Stories indexed with the term ‘ice-skating’

DDA Parking Trends Continue

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (May 1, 2013): The DDA board’s meeting, which lasted under a half hour, included only public commentary and some updates from the board’s committees. No voting items were on the agenda.

DDA board member Sandi Smith (Photos by the writer)

DDA board member Sandi Smith. (Photos by the writer)

The meeting did not feature one of its typical highlights – discussion of the monthly parking report. However, the data was released to the public at the meeting, and it was mentioned that the data was now available to the public in draft form.

So this meeting report adds that provisional parking data to the data set that The Chronicle maintains – to chart the activity in Ann Arbor’s public parking system as the DDA measures it.

Highlights from public commentary included appreciation from representatives of the Neutral Zone for grants the organization has received from the DDA. The board also heard an update – during public commentary and in its committee reports – on a proposal to install an artificial ice rink on top of the new Library Lane underground parking garage.

Committee reports included updates on a possible economic development task force initiated by Ward 2 city councilmember Sally Petersen. Other updates included getDowntown’s commuter challenge, which takes place during the month of May, and the opening of the “Bike House” bicycle parking facility inside the Maynard parking structure.
[Full Story]

Parks Group Applauds “Status Quo” Budget

Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (April 16, 2013): After several years of cuts, the city’s parks system anticipates no significant budget changes in fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, 2013.

Graffiti, Argo Pond, Ann Arbor parks & recreation, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Graffiti at Argo Pond. Parks and recreation manager Colin Smith reported that there’s been an increase in graffiti in the parks system. (Photos by the writer.)

Park commissioners were briefed on budget details at their April meeting, and voted unanimously to recommend the budget for approval. The parks budget will be a component of the overall budget that the city council will vote on in mid-May. The public hearing on that budget will be held on May 6. “The message is status quo,” parks and recreation manager Colin Smith told commissioners.

In a separate vote, commissioners recommended raising fees – ranging between 4-9% – for rentals at the Gallup Park meeting room and Cobblestone Farm. It was the first fee increase at these facilities since 2007 and 2006, respectively.

In other action, commissioners unanimously recommended approval of a five-year contract with Coca-Cola Refreshments for cold beverage concessions. It will replace the 10-year contract with Pepsi that expires this summer. Pepsi was the only other bid received by the city for a new contract, but missed the deadline and was disqualified.

Commissioners also recommended that the city award a $535,000 contract to Pranam Global Tech Inc. to replace the nearly 40-year-old roof at Veterans Memorial Park Ice Arena. The project includes a 10% construction contingency of $53,500, bringing the total project budget to $588,500.

Public commentary included an update from advocates of an ice-skating rink at the city-owned Library Lane site, as well as a report from the Library Green Conservancy, which hopes to make the parking lot into a park. [.pdf of Library Green Conservancy report]

Updates from commissioners included ongoing efforts to find a new centrally located dog park, as well as more information-gathering work by the downtown parks subcommittee.

And in his manager’s report, Smith informed commissioners of an increase in spray-painted graffiti in the parks. The staff is collecting data on how much time they spend repairing areas that are hit with graffiti, “and it’s substantial,” he said. Even trees have been tagged, which is unusual, Smith reported. “There have been some rather inappropriate things painted on some very nice trees.” He added: “It’s extremely frustrating … We’re not in the business of providing spray-painting opportunities any more than we are in the business of providing apothecary options for people in the parks. I’ll leave it at that.” [Full Story]

AADL Weighs Small Tax Hike in FY 2014

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (April 15, 2013): Two main topics were discussed at the April AADL board meeting: The draft budget for fiscal 2013-14, and a proposal for an ice-skating rink on the city-owned Library Lane parking lot, adjacent to the downtown library on South Fifth Avenue.

Margaret Leary, Ed Surovell, Ann Arbor District Library, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Ann Arbor District Library trustees Margaret Leary and Ed Surovell. (Photos by the writer.)

The $12.475 million proposed budget calls for levying the AADL’s tax at a rate of 1.575-mill – a small increase from the current 1.55-mill rate, but still below the amount that AADL is authorized to levy. [.pdf of draft 2013-14 budget]

Ken Nieman – AADL’s associate director of finance, HR and operations – told the board that the budget includes a 3% increase in the merit raise pool for full-time employees and an increase in hourly base rates for part-time workers. The administration wanted to make sure that the library’s lower-paying jobs start at more than $9 per hour. “It will help us attract people and hopefully also keep people as we compete against other businesses out there,” he said.

The board is expected to vote on the budget and set the millage rate on May 6, but several trustees made comments about the draft budget during the April 15 meeting. Ed Surovell argued strongly against even a small tax increase, and said he wouldn’t be voting for a budget that includes any increase to the millage. It’s estimated that the additional 0.025 mills would increase the amount of the library tax for homeowners by $2.50 per year, for a home that has a taxable value of $100,000. The increase is estimated to result in an additional $185,000 in tax revenues, compared to a 1.55-mill rate.

The April 15 meeting also included a presentation by Stewart Gordon and Alan Haber, who are advocating to put a temporary, artificial ice-skating rink at the northwest corner of the Library Lane parking lot. They asked the board to designate a liaison from the library, to facilitate communications as the project unfolds – they hope to construct and open it by Oct. 15. Several commissioners board members expressed skepticism about the proposal, stressing concerns over financing and security issues.

The board also heard from five people during public commentary. Topics included concerns over the hiring of Allerton-Hill Consulting, and thanks for support the library’s support of the ArborWiki and Old News projects. [Full Story]

Parks Agenda: Downtown, Dogs, Dams, DTE

Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (March 19, 2013): A packed agenda for this month’s PAC meeting included several items related to downtown parks and the Huron River.

Amy Kuras, Andrew Walton, Doug Kelly, Stewart Gordon, Ann Arbor park advisory commission, Library Green Conservancy, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Park planner Amy Kuras, left, talks with Stewart Gordon, an advocate for putting an ice-skating rink atop the Library Lane site. In the background are Andrew Walton, left, and Doug Kelly, the city’s director of golf. Walton supervises the Huron Hills golf course. (Photos by the writer.)

Commissioners discussed a proposal to build an ice-skating rink atop a portion of the city-owned Library Lane underground parking structure. They took no action on the item, but were briefed on the proposal by two advocates of the effort: Alan Haber and Stewart Gordon. The two men also attended a subsequent March 26 meeting of a PAC downtown park subcommittee. This report includes a summary of that session as well.

River-related items on PAC’s March 19 agenda included a resolution to recommend awarding a $295,530 contract to Gerace Construction Co. for repair work and repainting at Argo and Geddes dams, as well as site improvements around Argo Dam. Brian Steglitz, an engineer with the city, told commissioners that the work is being done in response to the most recent inspection by state regulators.

Commissioners also recommended awarding a $512,180 contract for improvements at the Gallup Park canoe livery to Construction Solutions Inc., which will be funded in part by a $300,000 state grant. Cheryl Saam, facility supervisor for the Argo and Gallup canoe liveries, gave commissioners a presentation on those operations, in preparation for budget recommendations that PAC is expected to consider at its April 16 meeting.

As part of her report, Saam noted that the city plans to issue another request for proposals (RFP) to design a whitewater section along the Huron River, downstream from the Argo Dam near the Argo Cascades. Parks and recreation manager Colin Smith reminded commissioners that the first attempt at this project wasn’t successful. The Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality did not approve the initial design, and would not issue the necessary permit for the project. The staff is working with the state to address MDEQ’s concerns, he said. Smith also reported that DTE Energy still intends to pay for the project, which is located adjacent to property that the utility company is cleaning up.

DTE representatives were on hand at the meeting because of a different project: To request an easement on city-owned land in Riverside Park, where utility poles are located. The easement is needed as part of an $8 million new electrical substation that DTE is building on land adjacent to the park. Commissioners unanimously recommended that the city council approve the easement.

In another presentation to set the stage for next month’s budget discussion, PAC heard from Doug Kelly, the city’s director of golf, and Andrew Walton, recreational facility supervisor at Huron Hills. They reviewed the status of the city’s two golf courses – at Huron Hills and Leslie Park – and noted that both courses have seen significant revenue gains over the past five years.

The issue that drew the most public commentary during the meeting wasn’t on the March 19 agenda: a possible dog park on a knoll in West Park. Residents in that area aren’t happy about the prospect of barking dogs in their neighborhood. [Full Story]

Parks Group Discusses Skating Rink Proposal

At their March 19, 2013 meeting, Ann Arbor park advisory commissioners discussed a proposal to build an ice-skating rink atop a portion of the city-owned Library Lane underground parking structure. They took no action on the item, but were briefed on the proposal by two advocates of the effort: Alan Haber and Stewart Gordon.

Commissioners have been lobbied about the project during public commentary at previous meetings, most recently on Feb. 26, 2013. At that meeting, Haber – one of the organizers of the Library Green Conservancy – told commissioners that he hoped PAC could make a statement as a body or individually to the city council, urging them to give the rink a try for just two months. … [Full Story]

West Park

Much of West Park pond sufficiently frozen to support a skater practicing with hockey stick and puck. Eastern-most end of pond is a puddle.