Ann Arbor Area Community News
The Huron Valley chapter of the Sierra Club has proposed a greenway running along the Allen Creek floodplain from Bandemer Park (where US-23 crosses the Huron River) past downtown to Michigan Stadium. An article by chapter co-chair Doug Cowherd on the group’s website and in their newletter suggests that the Allen Creek floodplain should be kept clear of buildings and parking lots in order to control flooding, and that a pedestrian and bicycle greenway, linking larger parks along the route, would be a good use for the area.
Cowherd’s article states,
If you look around downtown Ann Arbor for public open space, youâ€™ll find Liberty Plaza, where the only green is in planter boxes surrounded by a sea of concrete. The University of Michigan diag efficiently redistributes a horde of students at the top of every hour, but discourages relaxation by its scarcity of seating. Both places serve their purposes. But neither is the kind of urban green space that provides beauty and respite from the bustle of downtown life. . . . The Ann Arbor Greenway would consist of a biking and walking path through a series of small â€œpocket parksâ€? as well as a few larger urban parks; a lovely tree-lined â€œlinear parkâ€? system. People would stroll a 3 mile long path that meanders past picnic areas, ponds, sculptures, and play areas. This Greenway would link neighborhoods and the central part of the city with over 300 acres of natural areas along the Huron River, the ball fields and amphitheatre of West Park, and the vast U-M athletic campus.
The plan includes turning three city-owned properties – mainly parking lots – into larger parks along the greenway. One of these is First and William lot that the DDA is currently planning to construct a parking structure atop in order to accomodate further downtown development.
An Ann Arbor News article quotes developer Ed Shaffran as saying the First and William structure is “vital” to increasing downtown density. Shaffran says he thinks a less ambitious version of the greenway will eventually happen as a compromise. The News quotes Cowherd in response as being afraid that alleged supporters will try to twist the greenbelt to their own ends:
“I’m concerned people who say they support the greenway concept are actually trying to turn it into a concrete path between the tall buildings they want to put everywhere downtown,” Cowherd said. “This will make their projects more attractive, but it won’t create the linear Central Park that would be a tremendous benefit to Ann Arbor residents.”
A group called Friends of the Ann Arbor Greenway has put up a website to chart progress towards this vision, which mentions an upcoming project meeting on Wednesday (no location stated) and promises to publish a study showing that Ann Arbor doesn’t need a new parking structure.
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