Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Oct. 16, 2012): Creation of a new, more centrally located Ann Arbor dog park moved forward this month, as park commissioners reached an informal consensus to explore West Park for that purpose.
A committee that has focused on identifying possible locations for a new dog park recommended the West Park site – specifically, a parcel in the park’s northeast corner, where the city recently bought and demolished a house near the entrance off of Chapin Street. No formal vote was taken, but PAC’s support means that staff will bring back a proposal for PAC’s consideration, and hold a public meeting for community input.
PAC members did formally vote on a recommendation to relocate tennis courts within Windemere Park, to the east of the current location. Several residents of the neighborhood surrounding Windemere Park attended the meeting and advocated for a postponement on the decision. They noted that the option being recommended by staff had not been presented at an Oct. 8 neighborhood meeting. Colin Smith, the city’s parks and recreation manager, later explained that the fourth option had emerged from a consensus of ideas at the meeting.
Berla, who voted against the PAC resolution, felt there was nothing to lose in giving residents another month to review the proposal. But other commissioners believed that moving ahead was the best approach, and that no option would satisfy all residents – especially people with property facing the park. The resolution also recommended incorporating input from residents regarding landscaping around the courts, which was a concern raised by some of the homeowners.
In an unusual move, PAC member Ingrid Ault spoke to her fellow commissioners during public commentary. Telling them that she was speaking as a citizen, not a commissioner, Ault said she had formed a campaign committee – called Friends of the Parks – to support the park maintenance & capital improvements millage renewal, which is on the Nov. 6 ballot. The current 1.1 mill tax expires this year. A renewal would run from 2013-2018 and raise about $4.9 million next year. Ault brought yard signs to distribute, and encouraged commissioners and the public to support the renewal. PAC had passed a resolution in support of the millage at their June 2012 meeting.
As part of his manager’s report, Colin Smith noted that city staff will be meeting with representatives from the state on Nov. 2 to get a better understanding of concerns that have been raised regarding a planned whitewater section of the Huron River, near Argo Cascades. He said he’d have an update on that situation at PAC’s November meeting. [See Chronicle coverage: “EPA, Others Object to Whitewater Project.”]
Commissioners held their annual officer elections, re-electing Julie Grand as chair. Ingrid Ault was elected vice chair and Tim Doyle was tapped as chair of PAC’s budget and finance committee. All nominations were uncontested, and the votes were unanimous. PAC also welcomed Missy Stults to her first meeting as commissioner. Her nomination had been confirmed by the city council earlier this month.