Truckbed of Downtown Home & Garden’s red pickup is filled with snow – presumably not for sale. [photo]
Sign at entrance to Murray off of West Liberty: “This street requires additional snow removal. Please remove all vehicles Friday 12 a.m.-6 a.m.” [photo]
Icy sidewalks – including the sidewalk outside Ann Arbor Open – force pedestrians into the street. A woman passing me says, “I’m not risking my neck on those sidewalks!”
Surface parking lot: Big scooper dumping snow into huge open truck with two smaller trucks awaiting their turns.
City crew in bright green vests clearing sidewalk and pedestrian ramps at corner of Veterans Memorial Park.
It is annoying when someone clears their drive but ignores the sidewalk. It is really a problem when they clear the drive and throw up more obstacles for pedestrians. If I had hired this snow removal firm, I would be firing them. [photo] It was even worse earlier, before walkers had climbed over the snow boulders to try and pass safely.
There must be a story behind this scooter that was left behind. Meanwhile the plow works around it clearing yet more snow. [photo]
Two sidewalk bicycle hoops have disappeared: one “art” style hoop [photo] and one standard utilitarian hoop [photo]. My working theory: When the Main Street BIZ contractor removed the giant pile of snow that covered up both hoops, the buried hoops offered imperceptible resistance to the front-end loader.
Access path from sidewalk up to Stadium Boulevard bridges covered with snow.
Finished clearing sidewalk on south side of Liberty from AAATA bus stop to intersection of Seventh & Liberty. Watched as x-country skier on sidewalk from the west approached intersection, observed cleared sidewalk, and opted for the road – which was mostly snow-covered, but was well-plowed, with some pavement showing in spots.
Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board meeting (Dec. 19, 2013): The last meeting of the year was attended by just five of the nine board members who are appointed and serving – and one needed to depart early. So to maintain a quorum, the meeting went by brisker than most. Even with a staff presentation on the capital and categorical grant program, the meeting concluded after about 45 minutes.
That capital and categorical grant program got a unanimous vote of approval at the Dec. 19 meeting. It’s a plan for spending about $45 million in federal funds over the next five years. According to the AAATA, this year’s plan does not include additional capital needs that would be associated with a five-year service improvement plan in the urban core, or any funding associated with rail initiatives. Having in place such a capital and categorical grant program – a set of allocations for specific categories of capital expenditures – is a requirement to be eligible for federal funding. [.pdf of 2014-2018 grant program]
The five-year service improvement plan could be implemented by the AAATA with funding that will likely be sought through an additional millage sometime in 2014. That would require approval of a majority of voters in the three jurisdictions making up the AAATA – the city of Ann Arbor, the city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. The township became a member as a result of an Ann Arbor city council vote taken on Nov. 18, 2013.
The expected appointee to the AAATA board from Ypsilanti Township, Larry Krieg, attended the Dec. 19 meeting and sat at the table, although his appointment has not yet been confirmed by the township board of trustees. His confirmation did not appear on the township board’s Dec. 9, 2013 agenda. The next township board meeting is set for Jan. 21, 2014, which comes the week after the AAATA’s next regular meeting, on Jan. 16.
So Krieg did not participate in any of the votes taken on Dec. 19.
A significant vote taken by the board was to approve a nine-month extension of a contract with SelectRide through April 30, 2015, to provide paratransit service. The value of the contract for the extension period is $2.263 million. That’s essentially a pro-rated amount of SelectRide’s current contract, which ran through July 31, 2014.
The AAATA is currently preparing a request for proposals (RFP) with an eye to overhaul the concept of its paratransit service – which comes in the context of the possible five-year service improvement plan. Without a contract extension, that RFP would need to be ready for issuance in time to complete selection of a vendor by the time SelectRide’s current contract expires in July 2014. To avoid the possibility of an interruption in service, the AAATA board approved the SelectRide contract extension.
Other business items handled by the board included contracts for snow removal and janitorial services.
Snow removal at five different locations will take place under contracts with three vendors authorized by the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board.
Arbor Building Services of Ypsilanti will handle snow removal at the Ypsilanti Transit Center, and the Miller Road and Plymouth park-and-ride lots. The downtown Ann Arbor Blake Transit Center snow removal will be handled by A.M. Services Inc. of Ann Arbor. And when they are built, the “superstops” at Washtenaw Avenue and Pittsfield Street will be serviced by Margolis Companies of Ypsilanti.
The contracts have a one-year term with four one-year renewal options. AAATA board action on the snow removal contracts came at its Dec. 19, 2013 meeting. The AAATA has spent roughly $50,000 a year on snow removal over the last five …
Front-end loader loading dump truck with piles of snow previously mounded up. This is the Main Street BIZ contractor at work, I think.
Two pedestrians ascend the mountain of snow piled mid-block in on-street parking space, punch the sky, do not plant flag, continue northbound.
The parking lot has been cleared [photo 1] but the sidewalk was left undone [photo 2]. This happens a lot around town. I believe this example is University of Michigan property and responsibility. But there were a lot of uncleared sidewalks in the neighborhood, without even a first pass. Thanks to all who did make being a pedestrian safer and easier by shoveling!
Why is this the worst stretch of icy sidewalk pavement downtown? [photo]
Editor’s note: The monthly milestone column, which appears on the second day of each month – the anniversary of The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s launch – is an opportunity for either the publisher or the editor of The Chronicle to touch base with readers on topics related to this publication.
We no longer number the monthly milestones here at The Chronicle. If we did, this one for March 2011 would be number 30. Parents with young children can probably peg 30 months to 2.5 years without even doing the math. Two and a half years does not seem like a terribly long time for a publication to stay in business – especially compared to the nearly 175-year run of The Ann Arbor News. The announcement of that paper’s closure came two years ago – on March 23, 2009. Coming as it did late in the month, the grim news did not figure in The Chronicle’s March 2009 monthly milestone.
Instead, publisher Mary Morgan filled the column that month with mostly lighter fare, including a mention about the addition of the Skyclock widget to the right sidebar of this website – scroll down to the bottom under the advertisements. Now, exactly two years later, Skyclock has again earned a spot in the milestone column – which this month is a quick tour of twilight, marijuana, and snow.
Ann Arbor city council meeting (Feb. 22, 2011): In a meeting that wrapped up in less than two hours, the council handled several agenda items, including: an affordable housing site plan from Avalon Housing at 1500 Pauline; authorization of increased golf fees; reappointment of the golf task force; an appointment to the environmental commission; and the purchase of new police cars.
However the council chose to delay some of its business due to the absences of four members – Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5), Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2). By way of explanation for the four absences, mayor John Hieftje offered the fact that it’s vacation week for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
The delayed business included a set of proposed licensing rules for medical marijuana businesses. The council heard from advocates of medical marijuana during public commentary at the start of the meeting, but when they reached the item on their agenda, the seven councilmembers who attended the meeting decided to postpone their vote on the issue without deliberating on or amending the licensing proposal. It marks the fifth time the council has decided not to take an initial vote on the licensing, dating back to Dec. 6, 2010. The council must take two votes on any new ordinance.
Also delayed were two easements – one for pedestrian access and one for public utilities – from Glacier Hills Inc., a retirement community. Under the city charter, eight votes are required for approval of such easements. Rather than have the easements fail on a 7-0 vote, the council chose instead to postpone action.
During his communications, city administrator Roger Fraser gave the council a broad-strokes overview of potential impacts that Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed state budget could have on the city of Ann Arbor. In a roughly $80 million general fund city budget, the $2.4 million projected shortfall – on which current reduction targets are based – could increase by $0.5 million (to $2.9 million) or by $1.7 million (to $4.1 million), depending on how state revenue sharing and state fire protection grants are handled in the state budget. The state’s fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, but the city of Ann Arbor must finalize its own budget in May, for a fiscal year starting July 1.
During public commentary, the council heard a suggestion that Ann Arbor follow the example of Ypsilanti and add parking lots to its snow-clearing ordinance. And during its communications time, the council scrutinized the city’s snow removal performance in connection with a recent storm. Snow began falling the previous Sunday afternoon, accumulating to at least six inches – and more, in many areas – by early Monday morning, when the snow stopped. Highlights from city administrator Roger Fraser’s report on the snow removal effort included the fact that two of the city’s 14 large plowing vehicles were down for maintenance and the fact that forecasted amounts of snow were much lower than what actually fell.
During public commentary, the city also heard from Douglas Smith regarding a Freedom of Information Act appeal that involved redaction of police reports. Over the last several months, Smith has addressed the University of Michigan regents and the Washtenaw County board of commissioners on a range of specific cases that all relate to the general issue of civilian oversight of police power.
Oh look, we got a special delivery from the city. I’ve always wanted more snowlders! [photo: chunks of snow from street plowed onto sidewalk]
Ann Arbor City Council meeting (Jan. 4, 2010): Ann Arbor’s city council rejected a resolution on Monday night that would have asked responders to the city’s request for proposals on the Library Lot to provide more information to the council, even if their proposals had been eliminated.
At the same time, the council’s representatives to the RFP committee – Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) and Margie Teall (Ward 4) – told their colleagues that they would bring to the committee the suggestion of re-including two already-eliminated proposals.
That idea will be floated to the committee when it next meets, on Friday, Jan. 8 at 9 a.m.
In other business, councilmembers grilled the city’s transportation program coordinator about revisions to the city’s bicycle and pedestrian ordinances to align with the Michigan Vehicle Code. Despite that, council sent the revisions on to the next step towards final approval.
The council also authorized a vote to be held among property owners to establish a business improvement zone (BIZ) on Main Street between William and Huron streets. That’s the next step in a multi-step process for establishing the BIZ, which allows property owners to levy an additional tax on themselves to use for specific services.
The council also heard a presentation on the city’s snow removal policy from Craig Hupy, who’s head of systems planning for the city. Councilmembers heard little enthusiasm from city administrator, Roger Fraser, for any deer removal program for Ann Arbor.
Fraser also announced that the city’s community services area administrator, Jayne Miller, would be leaving her city post to head up the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, which oversees regional metroparks, sometime in the next month.
On Wednesday, a cold and rainy evening, a group of downtown Ann Arbor property owners gathered in the city council chambers for a public meeting gaveled to order by the city clerk, Jackie Beaudry.
They were there not to discuss rain, but rather snow. At least in part.
On their agenda was consideration of a plan for a business improvement zone (BIZ) on Main Street – bounded by William Street to the south and Huron Street to the north – which would assess an extra tax on owners of property in the zone.
That plan for the BIZ includes snow removal as one of three main categories of services to be paid for through the BIZ. The other two categories of service in the plan are sidewalk cleaning and landscape plantings.
The plan was approved on a roll call vote of the property owners in attendance on Wednesday night, but not without some dissent. And the approval of the plan on Wednesday is not the final step before the BIZ can be implemented. Still ahead lies a formal public hearing by the city council, a vote by the city council, followed by another vote by property owners – this one by mail.
Christopher Taylor, one of two Ann Arbor city council representatives for Ward 3, rode the totter a couple of weeks ago. His conversation is ready to read.
I would highlight the discussion of city-university relations as a topic of broader significance that was touched on while teetering. For details, read Taylor’s Talk.
Other topics on the totter included the orange mug he drank from on the occasion, the CTN mugs from his recent appearance on CTN’s Conversations, getting stuff done at the individual constituent level, snow removal in Ann Arbor, and how Taylor came to live in Ann Arbor.
By now sports writers across the nation will have collectively written a flurry of columns, each heaping scorn by the shovelful upon the Detroit Lions – a football team that yesterday completed the first 0-16 winless season in National Football League history.
If only a bit of that shoveling could be harnessed in service of clearing the snow from Ann Arbor’s sidewalks and roads. The headline to this piece reflects the fact that according to National Weather Service statistics through Dec. 28, the date of the Lions’ historic loss, 16 inches of snow have fallen on the city of Ann Arbor this season. The headline also reflects the opinion that we, as a city, are losing the battle against the snow.