Monthly Archives: February 2013

Sidewalk Gaps?

SidewalkGapsAs Ann Arbor works to find and fill sidewalk gaps, the first step is to know where they are.

You can help.

City Staff used satellite data to create a preliminary map of sidewalk gaps, but the data needs human checking.

Do you know of sidewalk gaps not on the map? How about places on the map that you know are OK? If you find any, please send them to [email protected]

Downtown Open Space: A Call For Case Studies

Campus Martius Park in Detroit

Last year Concentrate hosted the president of the conservancy which developed and oversees Detroit’s Campus Martius Park, Bob Gregory.

I didn’t make it to the presentation itself, but I did watch the video (which I highly recommend). One thing that impressed me with Mr. Gregory’s presentation is that he describes the in-depth process that led to the design of the park, including exhaustive review of other urban parks to see what works and what doesn’t.

What I heard from Mr. Gregory was a strong case for the importance of getting urban open space right in terms of scale, design, and context.

As the Parks Advisory Commission explores open space in a near downtown (see Chronicle coverage), I would love to case studies of 5-10 successful urban open spaces and 5-10 unsuccessful urban open spaces so that we can explore what works and what doesn’t at a deeper level than “I like this” or “I don’t like that.” We could have both qualitative analysis as well as quantitative analysis about:

  • size
  • development cost
  • maintenance costs
  • exteranl funding
  • surrounding uses
  • Density: how many residents w/in 1/4 mile radius? How many square feet of commercial and office?
  • Open space: How much public and private open space within 1/4 mile? How much of that is green space?
  • What are the uses of the properties adjacent to the open spaces? How do they interact with the open space?
  • How does the open space relate to traffic flows (human, pedestrian)
  • What amenities are on the sites (art, water features, play equipment, etc.)

I think such an analysis would really help us understand the successes and failures of other open spaces so that we get get it right when we plan this one.

February Ann Arbor Updates

I wanted to share with you a few of the things coming up here in Ann Arbor, both what is coming up directly  at City Council and whys you can get involved and help shape decisions before they get to Council.

Budget development process

The budget is the big task before Council for the next several months. We will be going over our priorities as a Council and how to ensure that we best meet the needs of the community. I expect vigorous discussion of what to cut and what to add, and I welcome your thoughts as we go forward.

You can track the process by visiting the budget guide page of the city website. You can even sign up for updates as the process moves forward by clicking the red envelope in the right column on that page. 

Stormwater modeling and calibration project begins

Last years record storms teach us that we need to start preparing for a world in which we see more extreme weather events more often.j

To help us plan, the City has launched the Stormwater Modeling and Calibration project. Staff recognizes that:

Public engagement is vital to this project. The city is reaching out to residents in neighborhoods where known stormwater issues or complaints exist to (1) validate and verify stormwater concerns specific to each neighborhood, (2) collect additional information about areas of concern that staff may not be aware of, and (3) share information about the Stormwater Modeling and Calibration project.

For our side of town there is a public meeting Feb 5, 2013, 6:30-8:30PM at the Downtown Library. Visit the  project website for details about this meeting, other meetings, and to learn other ways to give input.

That night I’ll be splitting my time between that meeting and …

312 Glendale Project

There is a proposed development on Glendale, just south  of Jackson, by Hillside Terrace. The developers for the proposed 312 Glendale Project have scheduled a second citizen participation meeting for Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 6:30 pm in the Eberwhite Elementary School Multipurpose Room, 800 Soule Boulevard, to present their revised proposal.

Allen Creek Berm Opening Feasibility Study

This is the kind of detail that comes up all the time at the City that I was only vaguely aware of before running for office. Down by Depot Street, the railroad tracks are on an embankment, or berm, that blocks the flow of water an exacerbates flooding. So, the City is looking to see if there are ways to “open” the berm to let water flow under it to the river and thereby reduce flooding. They are also looking to see if opening the berm could also allow a pedestrian pathway to provide access to the river without crossing the  tracks.

There is a public meeting on this topic schedule for Tuesday, Feb. 26, 6:30–8 p.m. in the Larcom City Hall basement conference room, 301 E. Huron St. For more information, please visit the project Web page at www.a2gov.org/AllenCreekBermStudy.Updated schedule: Wednesday, March 13, 6:30–8 p.m. in the Larcom City Hall basement conference room, 301 E. Huron St.

Long-Range Transportation Planning

I serve as the Ann Arbor representative to WATS, the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study. We are in the process of creating their 2040 Long Range Plan. Here’s your chance to see what transportation projects are planned in the area (road resurfacing, bike lanes, bridge work), to comment on the proposed work, and to suggest other areas that need review. Take a look and add your comments at http://www.micommunityremarks.com/miwats .

413 E. Huron Development

The proposed student high rise at 413 E. Huron will be back again at planning commission on Tuesday at 7:00. You can see the meeting details at the City website, and you can read the Ann Arbor Chronicle coverage of the last meeting on this topic.

Community members have raised serious concerns about how this project would affect the historic neighborhood to the north. I am in conversation with them and the City Attorney’s Office to explore what levers the City has to address these concerns.