Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Ann Arbor Greenway Workshops

7. April 2006 • Juliew
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Want to have a say in the Ann Arbor Greenway? The Greenway Task Force is holding two public workshops and two public lectures in April. The input from the public workshops will help form the Task Force’s final recommendations report.

Public Workshops:
Workshop “A” (focus: overview of the Greenway)
Date: Saturday, April 22
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 12 noon
Place: Courthouse Square (100 S. 4th Ave. at Huron), 2nd floor ballroom

Workshop “B” (focus: 3 city-owned sites)
Date: Saturday, April 29
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 12 noon
Place: Courthouse Square (100 S. 4th Ave. at Huron), 2nd floor ballroom

Public Lectures:
Joan Nassauer, U-M SNRE, Ecological and Community Benefits of Greenways
Date: Tuesday, April 11
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: Edison Center (425 South Main St., southeast corner of Main and William), main level Community Room

Tom Woiwode, Director, Greenways Initiative, Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan
Date: Tuesday, April 25
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: TO BE DETERMINED



  1. These greenway “workshops” are biased by the pro-greenway-development forces. This whole thing is a sham.

    See? It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?


       —Dale    Apr. 7 '06 - 09:25PM    #
  2. (probably true, though, Dale… maybe we can conspire to lay down a whole bunch of “railroad ballast” colored chips along the “greenway” at every table during the first workshop)


       —Brandon    Apr. 7 '06 - 11:06PM    #
  3. Hm. I will pass along what is admittedly a second-hand rumor: The Task Force is something that is being used to kill the full-scale greenway.

    I don’t follow greenway stuff that closely, so I can’t judge whether or not Dale’s gossip or mine is closer to the truth.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 15 '06 - 08:26PM    #
  4. It wasn’t gossip.


       —Dale    Apr. 15 '06 - 09:32PM    #
  5. Well, I heard that the Greenway was undergoing “death by task force.”


       —David Cahill    Apr. 16 '06 - 12:47AM    #
  6. There’s a note in the A2 News about a discussion of downtown development on 20 April at 7:30pm at Crazy Wisdom. John Hieftje is the only named participant, but ‘others’ are indicated as well.

    The focus sounds more general than just the Greenway, but it sounds pretty informal, so audience interest could steer discussion to matters Greenway. It’s hard to know.

    What’s not hard are those ding dongs from Big City Small World Bakery that Crazy Wisdom has on offer.


       —HD    Apr. 17 '06 - 12:48AM    #
  7. Looks to me like the task force is being fully supported by the city. Council appointed a balanced task force of pro-greenway people led by Peter Pollock, someone who knows what he is talking about. It also includes a couple of UM PHD’s from Natural Resources and Landscape Arch. plus Margaret Wong and reps. from the Parks & Planning Commissions. Top administrator Sue McCormick is working with them and the railroad. They have a lecture up on CTN and more to come. The mayor provides the intro. Seems like something that is going to happen rather than something that is meant to fade away.


       —Katy    Apr. 17 '06 - 01:30AM    #
  8. Let’s hope you’re right, Katy.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 17 '06 - 04:11PM    #
  9. On channel 16 tonight (4-19-2006) CTN is broadcasting a Greenway Task Force meeting. Part of the focus seems to be how to structure the upcoming workshops so as not to make it a mere ‘voting’ excercise where people show up and cast their vote for their notion of the Greenway and then head home. Achievement of this goal involves the allocation of ‘dots’ (whether to hand them out and when).


       —HD    Apr. 20 '06 - 01:32AM    #
  10. An article in today’s AA News says that the City is considering to sell off 721 N. Main (the key northern Greenway parcel) to a developer in a land swap with the Ann Arbor Art Center. The Center would get the building which sits right in the middle of 415 W. Washington (the key middle parcel).

    If this idea becomes a reality, a full-scale Greenway would be impossible.

    Could someone link the article here? Thanks!

    This Saturday’s Greenway meeting should be really interesting!


       —David Cahill    Apr. 26 '06 - 05:47PM    #
  11. David, you’re underselling the notion of a full-scale greenway in a most offensive way. The REAL Full-scale GreenWay™ involves pulling down most of the homes on the Old West Side, THEN paving everything around the railroad tracks so people who live more than 5 blocks away can drive right up to the GreenWay™ and look at the nature without having to park in a nasty, urban parking structure. The most important thing, of course, is that we make the Full-scale GreenWay™ drive-able, because, as you have noted, in Michigan, there can be nothing wrong with the car.

    And don’t get me started on how the YMCA fits into this…


       —Dale    Apr. 26 '06 - 06:14PM    #
  12. Tsk. You’re losing it (again), Dale.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 26 '06 - 08:56PM    #
  13. AA News link, Art center may swap property with city: Deal would open space along proposed greenway , as requested,

    “The Ann Arbor Art Center is looking at the possibility of swapping its studios on Felch Street as part of a deal that would allow the city to package the former factory site with adjoining city-owned property on North Main Street for sale to a developer.

    In return, the art center would get the city parks department building at 415 W. Washington St., across from the new YMCA building, for use as studios. The center also has space at 117 W. Liberty St.

    ...

    The discussions tie into the greenway because both of the city-owned properties are along the route of the proposed linear park that would cut through the west side of downtown, roughly along the path of the underground Allen Creek.

    The city plans to vacate 415 W. Washington St. and 721 N. Main St. as it consolidates operations at a new maintenance facility near Platt and Ellsworth roads within the next couple of years.

    Last August, the City Council passed a resolution that stated that 415 W. Washington St. and 721 N. Main St. could be included in the greenway. But it said a portion of the properties will be reserved for mixed use, which include additional park or greenway area, space for nonprofit organizations, art, housing and commercial entities.

    If the city got ownership of the art center property at 220 Felch St., it could be packaged with 721 N. Main St. and sold to developers. Crawford said the city paid $5,500 to have 721 N. Main St. appraised. He wouldn’t reveal the appraised value of the property.

    Sonia Schmerl, co-director of Friends of the Ann Arbor Greenway, said she is concerned about the city going as far as getting an appraisal.

    “To me, getting an appraisal means they have some plan in mind and the public ought to know what that plan is,’’ Schmerl said. “At the very least, they ought to communicate with the greenway task force….’’

    Some members of the task force were unaware the city had the appraisal done.

    Task force chairman Peter Pollack said he isn’t bothered by the talks.

    “There are lots of people talking about lots of possibilities and that’s healthy,’’ Pollack said. ”... This is not going to get in the way of the task force.’’

    James D’Amour, another task force member, said the city was right to wait.

    “I’d like to think before the city does anything it gives the greenway task force a chance to complete its work,’’ he said.”


       —David Boyle    Apr. 26 '06 - 09:12PM    #
  14. Yeah, come on Dale. There are no cars in Margaret’s Happy Place! Just salamanders and condors and passenger pigeons and river beech trees.


       —Parking Structure Dude!    Apr. 26 '06 - 09:14PM    #
  15. “To me, getting an appraisal means they have some plan in mind and the public ought to know what that plan is,”

    To me, getting an appraisal means knowing what your property is worth. Doing it now seems to be pretty late in the process. Should these sites have been appraised early in the Greenway Task Force process so that we knew what we were dealing with?


       —TPM    Apr. 26 '06 - 09:16PM    #
  16. A few corrections need to be made regarding the article.

    Gantert states that these properties could be included in the greenway. However, the actual language of the resolution is more definitive. It was resolved that the areas of these properties within the floodway “will be included in the new Greenway.” Furthermore, it was resolved that “the remaining portion of these sites will be reserved for mixed use..”

    The more obvious correction is to David Cahill’s claim (post #10) that “AA News says that the City is considering to sell off 721 N. Main (the key northern Greenway parcel) to a developer.” The article only states that it could be bundled with the Arts Center property and be sold to developers. The idea is never attributed to the city or anyone else. One can only assume this is Gantert’s own musing. The article never mentions the city’s intentions beyond inquiring as to the value of the property. I strongly agree with TPM that this step should have been taken much earlier in the process.

    Also in Cahill’s concern over moving the Art’s Center to 415 W Washington may be justified, but only 1/3 of that 2.5 acre property lies in the flood way. The resolution states that only the floodway is exclusively reserved for a greenway. Arts buildings are specifically included in the mixed uses that the remainder of these site are reserved for. So the same resolution that commits property to a greenway before we confirmed that it is the Right Thing to Do, also supports the potential new Arts Center location.


       —Scott TenBrink    Apr. 27 '06 - 07:07AM    #
  17. Scott TenBrink wrote: “The article only states that it could be bundled with the Arts Center property and be sold to developers. The idea is never attributed to the city or anyone else. One can only assume this is Gantert’s own musing.”

    I, too, think it’s a fair point to raise the question of the modality of ‘could be’. AANEWS: “If the city got ownership of the art center property at 220 Felch St., it could be packaged with 721 N. Main St. and sold to developers.” There’s one understanding on which a certain probability is assigned, as in “If John gets his hands on the money, it could be wasted.” There’s another understanding on which a logical possibility is asserted as in “If that painted board is stripped, it could be refinished with stain.” And on either understanding, it’s not clear who’s doing the probability-assisgnment or possibility-assertion.

    But frankly, I don’t think it matters much. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that City staff would cease all thinking and planning of anything related to that real estate until the Greenway Task Force delivers its recommendation sometime in November. As TPM points out above, it’s just the fiscally responsible move to make to have an appraisal done. If the property is going to get ‘Greenwayed’, it’d at least be useful to know what the financial sacrifice of us taxpayers is. And it’d be useful for the full-scale Greenway initiative (the privately funded one) to know what kind of target they’d need to shoot at if they wanted to buy the property themselves. A bit odd that Crawford wouldn’t reveal the appraised value.


       —HD    Apr. 27 '06 - 11:49AM    #
  18. “Crawford said the city paid $5,500 to have 721 N. Main St. appraised.”

    TPM, the article gives no indication of when the appraisal was performed. Appraisals also change over time (especially these days. If it was done a while back it might even have to be repeated.) So I’ll give the City the benefit of the doubt on this one.


       —Steve Bean    Apr. 28 '06 - 11:28PM    #
  19. I doubt if the City would be spending scarce resources at a time of great budgetary difficulty unless Crawford knew that a majority of Council wanted to sell off the parcel.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 29 '06 - 01:17AM    #
  20. Darn! I missed the second Greenway workshop!

    What happened?


       —David Cahill    Apr. 29 '06 - 09:19PM    #