Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

City Events

11. September 2007 • Juliew
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A few upcoming events:

Emergency Siren Testing Today (September 11)
The Emergency Siren test is the second Tuesday of every month from March to November at 1:00pm. This month’s test just happens to be today, September 11, a date which could make people a little jumpy. So don’t panic if you hear the sirens at 1:00, this is just a test.

Golf Course Meetings
The city is absolutely is not going to sell any golf courses so having a resolution preventing such a thing would be ridiculous. Oh wait …

The city will be having two public meetings this week to discuss the fates of the Leslie Park Golf Course and the Huron Hills Golf Course

  • Wednesday, September 12 at 7 p.m. at Leslie Park Golf Course about Leslie Park Golf Course
  • Thursday, September 13 at 7 p.m. at Cobblestone Farm regarding Huron Hills Golf Course.

East Stadium Bridge Replacement/South Main Improvements
The City is starting to plan for the replacement of the bridge on East Stadium Boulevard between White Street and South Main Street and bicycle and pedestrian improvements along South Main Street between East Stadium Boulevard and Ann Arbor–Saline Road. There are several workshops planned. The first two are coming up soon:

  • Initial Workshop: September 18 at 6:00pm at Pioneer High School
  • Priorities Workshop: October 2 at 6:00pm at Pioneer High School

For more information on the projects and the workshops (including detailed agendas), see the Project Web Site.

  1. “The city is absolutely is not going to sell any golf courses so having a resolution preventing such a thing would be ridiculous. Oh wait …”

    It’s probably worth distinguishing two separate deliberations by Council recently. (1) A proposed charter amendment that would have strengthened the state prohibition against sale of parkland without voter referendum (2) A proposed amendment to the resolution authorizing the contract with the consultant analyzing the golf courses that would have directed the consultant not to consider any options involving the sale of the courses.

    Neither passed.

    As a part of the deliberations on the second one, the notion was advanced that it would be unusual to direct a consultant in that precise a way as to how to do their job. Suarez countered that it was completely usual and typical for contractors to specify the scope of work for contractees and that it wouldn’t be odd at all for such a scope to include examination and study only of non-sale options.

    Voters in the majority indicated that they didn’t care what recommendation came back from the consultant, that they would absolutely not be for submitting the sale of a golf course to a referendum.

    Frankly, I think it’s irresponsible to preemptively reject one possible recommendation from a consultant. I mean, if you direct a consultant not to consider and analyze sale options, you deprive yourself potentially of good arguments against sale.

    But if, in your rhetoric at the table, you’re going to reject an option preemptively, then for the sake of not just consistency, but also efficiency in having the consultant allocate time, resources, and energy to only those options that are the ‘logical’ options to be considered later, I think it’s inconsistent to vote against a resolution that builds the rejection of that option into the consultant’s scope of work.

       —HD    Sep. 11 '07 - 08:20PM    #
  2. I drew a map of the stadium bridge replacement possible detours .

    They end up moving traffic through my neighborhood, and so there’s some level of concern as to how the posted signage will go.

       —Edward Vielmetti    Sep. 11 '07 - 09:33PM    #
  3. Has there been any thought to eliminating the bridge and recreating a State / Stadium intersection?

       —Eric    Sep. 12 '07 - 02:28AM    #
  4. Just a reminder that the first East Stadium Bridge Replacement/South Main Improvements public meeting is tomorrow, Tuesday, September 18 at 6:00 pm at Pioneer High School Cafeteria.

    The Agenda is as follows:

    6:00 – 6:30 Open House. This is your opportunity to preview information about the project and the study area and to meet and talk to members of the design team.

    6:30 – 7:10 Presentation. Team members will present an overview of proposed project components, as well as preliminary ideas about alternative approaches for structuring the project. Evaluation criteria for selecting a preferred project approach will also be reviewed as a starting point for discussion at Workshop #2.

    7:10 – 7:40 Questions and Answers

    7:40 – 8:00 Public Involvement Process Confirmation/Refinement. Team members will provide an overview of the planned public participation process and ask for your input on the strategies that are most helpful in keeping the community informed and getting input on the project.

       —Juliew    Sep. 17 '07 - 10:29PM    #
  5. A reminder that tomorrow night is the next East Stadium Bridge Replacement/South Main Improvements workshop. The first meeting was attended primarily by Ann Arbor Golf and Outing members (many of whom no longer live in Ann Arbor and as far as I can tell, none live in the near area) who vociferously argued against a sidewalk (“no one walks”), against bike lanes (“no one rides their bikes”), and against the city planners in general. It was quite a show.

    For those of you who don’t know, Ann Arbor Golf and Outing is a private 38-acre 9-hole golf course on the corner of Stadium and South Main Street. It is flanked by the University Golf Course, but is not part of the UM golf course. To be perfectly fair, they are highly affected by this project and they should have a vote. However, contrary to their opinion, they are not the only ones affected. As for the meeting tomorrow, from the AAGOC website:“President Tony has sent out a message to all members regarding our next steps for the process. He asks that we attend the city’s next meeting on Tuesday, October 2 and that we contact appropriate persons to express our opinions on the project.” Just for the record, “President Tony” seems to live in Saline.

    I think there is a middle ground here where the city could put in a sidewalk and bike lanes, keep most if not all of the existing golf course, not charge a special assessment for the sidewalk (it is a very small percentage of the total project and I think should be rolled into the cost so Golf and Outing doesn’t have to pay for the construction of something they don’t want), and limit the number of trees removed from the site, but the Golf and Outing members were having none of it and basically shouted down everything the city planners were trying to say. It was particularly disturbing because there were several people there who live directly in the area and were actually looking for real answers to their questions, but they were drowned out by the Golf and Outing members who were bemoaning the fact that they might have to shovel the sidewalks which would mean they would lose the golf course.

    Oh yeah, and just for reference, Ann Arbor Golf and Outing can park “over 2000” cars per home football games. They charge the highest rate in the area at $40/car. There are eight home games this year. Which means they make about $640,000/year on football parking alone.

       —Juliew    Oct. 2 '07 - 06:30AM    #
  6. capitalists!!! good for them!!

    parking is voluntary!

       —toasty    Oct. 2 '07 - 08:57AM    #
  7. By my figuring AAG&O has ½ mile of edge that would get sidewalks. I also know that while the streets are regular (level or evenly sloped) through that area the topography inside the course is not; in one place a golfer might be 10 feet above the road and in another spot 10 feet below. A lot of the area close to the intersection is walled to allow for this, making the sidewalk much harder to construct. Can the city build the sidewalk without destroying what is a much nicer edge condition than the U of M course has? Also who walks there? I have never seen anyone walk there except before and after an event at the stadium or Crisler. Is it worth it to spend probably $1 million to build this particular ½ mile of sidewalk?

    And the bigger picture is also hard to figure. Assuming that the U of M course will also get sidewalks, that’s roughly 2 miles of sidewalks around the three sides of the 200 acres (or so) of the two courses. Once again who is going to walk them? I personally love the idea of someone walking to Busch’s but from say Snyder that’s a mile each way and if you were up for the walk you can do it today by staying on the west side of Main. It just seems like a lot of sidewalk that will be little used.

    Biking is another thing, it would be my hope that a bike lane could be carved out of the existing asphalted area protecting the tree screen to the course. As it is both Main and Stadium are built to drive at 50, but signed at 35, and is a favorite place for the AAPD to catch people. If Main Street becomes visually wider it will be easier to push down a little harder on the gas.

    I would, however, like to see the course maintain the trees along Stadium a little better; I think they can be trimmed individually to look like trees. Right now (or last time I noticed) the view east from the light showed a sort of carved out tunnel as if DTE did the trimming.

       —abc    Oct. 2 '07 - 08:53PM    #
  8. “Why do we need a sidewalk? Nobody walks there!”

    Well, often the assumed causality arrow here is in the wrong direction. You could similarly say, “Nobody (or very few people) walks across I-94, therefore we don’t need to provide any pedestrian crossings of I-94.” But you’d be wrong.

    I used to live (and walk) about three blocks from Stadium & State; My experience was that sidewalks are badly needed in that area, as well as additional pedestrian crossings of Stadium and South Main (see, similarly, the pedestrian islands on Plymouth near North Campus). Stadium was built as a bypass of Ann Arbor, back when there was absolutely nothing developed south/west of Stadium. Its physical design is still that of a bypass – few crossings, poor pedestrian environment, clear emphasis of moving lots of cars quickly over human safety or comfort – even while it’s now thoroughly in-town. As abc notes, the physical design of Stadium and S. Main is for 50mph or thereabouts.

    I’d ask somebody who’s nearby to check out the area that has no sidewalks. Is the ground worn? “Dogpathing”, as I learned it, is clear evidence that a sidewalk is needed – people are, indeed, walking there.

    It doesn’t work in the other direction – lack of wear could mean that there’s pent-up pedestrian desire that’s being discouraged by sheer hostility of the environment. Considering that the area in question is adjacent to a school of 2000 students, not to mention the single largest pedestrian destination in perhaps southeast Michigan (at least episodically), I’d certainly err on the side of caution and assume that the demand is there.

    I am not a traffic engineer, nor do I have right-of-way or pavement dimensions for that area. I’m pretty sure, however, considering the historical overdesign of the roads, that bike lanes could be provided in the existing pavement. It might even be possible to subtract some pavement width altogether to provide extra wiggle room for sidewalks to be added with minimal tree removal.

       —Murph.    Oct. 2 '07 - 09:11PM    #
  9. “Why do we need a sidewalk? Nobody walks there!”

    Those quotation marks do not belong to me. I asked who and I didn’t say nobody. There are indeed dogpaths along the east side of Main Street because 8 times a years a small city beats its way to, and then from, the stadium. If that is enough evidence that this location needs a sidewalk then OK build it but… admit that the sidewalk is there to corral (if that’s the right word) the throngs attending football games. The dogpath is evidence of walking, the need though is a matter of interpretation. I have heard the city argue that a sidewalk is needed here because there is demand outside of football Saturdays. My interpretation is that a sidewalk here would solely benefit Stadium users; I do not see people using it the other 357 days of the year. So my question is whether the cost benefit analysis makes sense to the city’s residents as a whole? Clearly if the new sidewalk destroys the trees along the edge the golf course AAG&O will not be happy.

       —abc    Oct. 2 '07 - 11:51PM    #
  10. I initially wondered about the value of a sidewalk on the east side of Main there as well. Not anymore. The absence of a sidewalk there is a trip-and-fall-into-vehicle-traffic tragedy waiting to happen. The situation on Stadium isn’t any better.

    2000 cars per game would hold something like 6000 people who would then become pedestrians needing to get to the Main & Stadium intersection to safely cross to the game (and the reverse afterwards.)

    In addition, many game attendees walk the full length of that stretch from Stadium to more distantly parked cars near the S. Main/AA-Saline Rd. split, as I observed at least 20 people doing a few Saturdays ago during halftime. Another possible constituency (as a friend pointed out) is residents south of the golf course on S. Main who could walk to the U bus stop at Crysler to get to jobs on campus, year-round.

    AAGO may not want it, but I think it’s fair for them to be responsible for it, just like the rest of the community. The compromise has already been made in that they weren’t required to do it before now and the trees were allowed to stay this long.

       —Steve Bean    Oct. 3 '07 - 12:44AM    #
  11. abc, fair enough – I was paraphrasing Also who walks there? I have never seen anyone walk there except before and after an event at the stadium or Crisler. for rhetorical effect. (Which is why I used quotes rather than the italicizing I use for cut-n-paste quoting, and also did not preface with “abc says,”. It was clear in my head…) It was not meant to be a direct quote of your statement so much as generalizing the “few to none pedestrians observed” argument for rebuttal.

       —Murph.    Oct. 3 '07 - 02:13AM    #
  12. The City’s consultant for the E. Stadium/S. Main project sent out a notice that public input Workshop #2 results are now available on the project website.

    After reviewing the comments, I took the opportunity to send the following message via their email form. I’m curious what folks here think about the possibility of reducing the number of lanes on Stadium and Main in the project area.

    From the Workshop #2 Results page:

    “Type of Improvements. The majority of participants rated widening the existing west side path as “most important” and the construction of a new shared use path on east side as “least important.”

    In rating the possible widening of S. Main Street to the west and/or re-dimensioning travel and turn lanes, it appears that participants were reacting to the addition of a sidewalk on the east side of S. Main Street, rather than to the merits of these options. Each could reduce the level of impact on adjacent east side property owners. Nevertheless, almost half of the participants submitting worksheets rated these possible improvements as “least important.””

    I think that the assumption that “it appears that participants were reacting to…” is unneccessarily and unsupportably generalized. That could probably be safely said of some participants, but not “participants” in general.

    Speaking for myself, I rated the option of widening S. Main as not important because I believe that road widening is counter to goals of decreased stormwater runoff, heat-island effect, maintenance costs, traffic induction, pedestrian safety, and single-occupancy-vehicle driving.

    Furthermore, I regret not having suggested another option during the workshop: reducing the number of lanes of both S. Main and E. Stadium in the project area. I suggest this now primarily for the considerations listed above.

    Also, I see that option as one that might both accomplish the objectives of adding sidewalks to the south side of Stadium and the east side of Main while satisfying the desires of the AAGO membership to not (adversely) impact their property. Trees could be saved, the golf course could be unimpacted.

    In addition, more street trees could be planted, traffic speeds would be ‘calmed’ (so the AAPD would no longer have to set their regular “speed trap” on S. Main), pedestrian safety would be improved (primarily through the addition of an east-side sidewalk), traffic noise would be reduced, and transit ridership could be expected to increase. Of course, I’m assuming that in-street bike lanes would be included, increasing the safety and desirability of bicycling on S. Main.

    I didn’t remember at the time that the police also regularly monitor Stadium for speeders. I also forgot to mention the potential for lower costs for bridge reconstruction on Stadium if fewer road lanes were included.

       —Steve Bean    Oct. 30 '07 - 08:40PM    #
  13. Steve, Thanks for the comments. I hope they are considered. I think this area can be treated with more sensitivity, and less like an interstate.

    Also, your link to their website does not seem to be working.

       —abc    Oct. 30 '07 - 11:38PM    #
  14. Here is the correct web link.

    Steve, I like your comments and think they have a lot of merit. The idea of narrowing Main between Stadium and Scio Church was raised briefly at the first meeting. I think there are a lot of possible ways to make this project work for everyone, but there are some strong reactions by people that make it hard to discuss rationally. There are a lot of 900-lb stakeholders who are trying to drive the process.

       —Juliew    Oct. 31 '07 - 12:46AM    #
  15. Julie, was there any reaction to the idea at the first workshop? Care to say more about the stakeholders who might not be open to the idea of lane reduction? (And thanks for fixing the link. It works on my browser, but I’m guessing the lack of “www” causes some to choke.)

       —Steve Bean    Oct. 31 '07 - 07:02AM    #