<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Second October newsletter 2012

Sabra Briere

First Ward, City Council
995-3518 (home)
277-6578 (cell)

Coffee wakes some of us up

I hold office hours 7:30 to 9 am on Mondays at the Northside Grill. 

While I'm there, I meet with neighbors from all over our community to discuss the issues that concern them.  Lately I've met with neighborhood groups to talk about utility issues. 

The folks at the Northside put up with political talk early in the morning.  If you see me there, please wave, and if you have time, please, join me for coffee and a chat.  


The City Council holds a caucus meeting each Sunday prior to a Council meeting.  This meeting is an opportunity for members of Council to discuss agenda items -- and pending issues -- with each other in public view.  Members of the public are welcome to attend to bring issues to the attention of Council members.  Caucus is held in Council Chambers and starts at 7 pm.
I go to almost all Caucus meetings.


Dear Neighbors,

If I were really in charge (as my spouse teases me that I am) I’d spread events out evenly through the year.  Unfortunately, I have no control on some things, and limited control over others.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks.

Transit news (buses and trains)

During the presentations to Council and in all of the documents the City Council received, it was clear that the Mayor had to nominate (and the Council appoint) seven (7) members to the Washtenaw Ride board.  But the various lawyers (the City’s, the County’s, AATA’s and Ypsilanti’s) interpreted the law in different ways.  As a result, the Council was surprised to learn this week that the City cannot appoint members to the Washtenaw Ride board who are currently serving as members of the AATA board.  That’s OK with me, but it’s not a good idea to rush appointments.  (For background information about this story, please read the coverage in The Chronicle.)
Requirements: live in Ann Arbor, be knowledgeable about public transportation.
I’d really like to see candidates who ride the bus.  I think it’s important that the members of this Board from Ann Arbor have a strong voice for people who use the bus for more than just to commute – getting services to the neighborhoods is one of my goals.  (I won’t be seeing the applications; those go directly to the Mayor.)
The City has the application on the website.  Scroll down to the section on Board and Commissions.  Please submit by October 31; nominations will take place on November 8th, and appointment on November 19th.


The City accepted a grant for an environmental assessment from the Federal Rail Administration (in June) for $3.5 million (the City was to provide a 20% match, or about $700,000).  At that time, the City staff was acting on the recommendation of colleagues in the government who indicated that work already completed would count toward that match.  Now that understanding has changed.  The FRA contacted the City last week to let them know that all previous work (work completed before June, 2012) was disallowed.  For the City to accept the grant from the FRA, it would have to commit 20% and provide new documentation and reports. 
The Chronicle has covered this story more effectively than I could.  City staff now estimates that the work needed to fulfill the terms of the grant can be reduced while still providing all the necessary information. The Council will decide whether to decrease the amount of grant (from $3.5 million to $2.75 million), and whether to add $550,000 to the budget for FY2013 – using General Fund Reserves.  This item is on the agenda, and more fully explained belowIf the Council approves the allocation, the Council will also be committed to placing the issue of whether to construct a new train station before the voters at a future date.

Survey results on public art
Whether you support public funding through a millage for art - or you oppose it - this issue is on the ballot for November. And whether or not it passes, the Council will evaluate the results from their individual perspectives. I asked you to evaluate the current public art program and public art in general. Here is the report.  I also encourage you attend one of the meetings the Public Art Commission is holding.

Sidewalk gaps
Last week a neighborhood organization held a meeting with the Mayor (I attended) to talk about their desire for a sidewalk.  The Mayor and I have discussed sidewalk gap issues several times, and have met with school board members, teachers, and city staff to talk about ways to actually fill some of the gaps.  The city remains committed to its ‘complete streets’ policy; each time a street is reconstructed we need to include improved access for pedestrians and non-motorized transit.  (The photo in the header is from the Friday Walktober at Wines elementary.)

To give me your feedback, just send me mail or call me (995-3518 at home; 277-6578 to my cell).

North Main Task Force

I attended the community meeting on 721 N. Main on Wednesday, October 10. There was quite a bit of lively discussion about the possible uses of this site. There will be another meeting in November before a recommendation goes to Council in December.

On the Agenda

Ordinances and Public Hearings

There are no public hearings on the agenda. 
Up at first reading is a change to the ordinance governing signs and outdoor advertising that would shift the responsibilities of the Sign Board of Appeals to the Zoning Board of Appeals.


Brought by Council:
Postponed from a previous meeting, the Council will again take up the issue of how to assign the proceeds from the sale of public lands

Also on the agenda is a resolution from the Budget Committee, recommending a different mechanism for assigning the proceeds of any sale. 

Two years ago (almost exactly) the Council agreed to participate in Coordinated Funding for Human Services – as a pilot project that would last two years.  On the agenda is a resolution to extend that pilot project for another year – until June 30, 2014.  This will allow for a complete evaluation of the project.

The Council will consider allocating $550,000 from General Fund Reserves as matching funds for a grant from the Federal Rail Administration.  “The project will result in completion of conceptual planning, project-level environmental documentation and preliminary engineering relating to the proposed Ann Arbor Station to improve the existing Amtrak intercity passenger rail service on the Detroit to Chicago corridor.  Understanding significant public interest in this project exists; a comprehensive public participation process is included in the project work program.  To facilitate additional public involvement in the project including the confidence to advance a rail station project through construction, the City will place an issue to proceed into subsequent phases for voter approval.”  (from the staff memo)

Brought by staff:
Returning to the agenda is the reconsideration of funding for the Connector Study.  This resolution was defeated on September 9th, brought back on September 16th, and postponed until the second meeting in October.  For coverage of these actions, I recommend the report in the Chronicle.

The efforts to build the skate park continue to move forward.  On the agenda is an opportunity for the Council to accept a grant of $400,000 from the County Parks and another $300,000 from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund to help pay for construction costs at Vets Park – and establish a construction budget of $800,000.

The City also received notification that the City had been granted $300,000 grant from MDNR Trust Fund for improvements to the Gallup Park canoe livery.  The Council will have the opportunity to accept this grant.

Continuing the efforts to deal with storm water controls in the Malletts Creekshed, the Council will consider a resolution to accept an agreement with the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner to Evaluate and Identify Opportunities for Storm water Improvements in the Churchill Downs & Lansdowne Areas of the Malletts Creek Drainage District.  This study is expected to cost $200,000.  These funds will come from surplus drain funds that are held by the Water Resources office.

There are always other items on the agenda.  At the October 15th meeting, the Council will consider two ‘purchase of development rights’ for properties in the greenbelt – using greenbelt funds.  The Council may approve a resolution about Citizens United – the Supreme Court case that allowed corporations and individuals to make unlimited donations to political action committees. 

If you have questions or concerns about any item, please let me know.

On the Horizon

The election in November

Here's the text of the two millage proposals on the ballot. These are just two of several proposals: at least 6 from the State of Michigan, 1 from the District Library, and 2 from the City of Ann Arbor.



Shall the Charter be amended to authorize a tax up to 1.10 mills for park maintenance and capital improvements for 2013 through 2018 to replace the previously authorized tax for park maintenance and capital improvements for 2007 through 2012, which will raise in the first year of the levy the estimated total revenue of $5,052,000?



Shall the Charter be amended to limit sources of funding for art in public places and to authorize a new tax of up to one-tenth (0.10) of a mill for 2013 through 2016 to fund art in public places, which 0.10 mill will raise in the first year of levy the estimated revenue of $459,273?

Solid Waste Plan update

The City will hold Solid Waste Plan meetings on October 18 and October 30th, both starting at 6:30 pm.  October 18th, please come to Traverwood Library.  October 30th, please come to the CTN studio.  The meeting on October 30th will be televised, so if you miss these you can still watch from home.
I’ve been asked about the impact of Single Stream Recycling on the amount and value of recycling.  Below is a simple chart I just made from the reports I’ve received.  Recycling is not a profit-making activity for the City, but does have a positive impact on both the budget and the environment.

(links to larger image)

Calendar and Events

Public meetings on the Public Art Commission's plans:

The Ann Arbor Public Art Commission (AAPAC) will be hosting four public input meetings in October. AAPAC will present an overview of public art in Ann Arbor and a summary of the projects AAPAC has underway. More importantly, the meetings will give residents an opportunity to provide feedback on future public art projects, to offer ideas that can be incorporated into the public art program and to suggest locations for installations.

The meetings will take place:

Monday, October 15, 7pm to 9pm
Ann Arbor Art Center, 117 West Liberty Street

Thursday, October 18, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Bryant Community Center, 3 West Eden Court

Monday, October 22, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Clague Middle School, Media Room, 2616 Nixon Road

Tuesday, October 30, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Mack Middle School, cafeteria, 920 Miller Avenue

All the input provided at the meetings will assist the Public Art Commission in planning future public art projects. Following the input meetings, AAPAC will form four Task Forces representing the city areas where the meetings took place. AAPAC will ask these Task Forces to review the input from the meetings and incorporate that feedback into their recommendations to the Commission for future art projects.

Information about AAPAC’s process for selecting locations, artists, and projects is available at AAPAC’s website: www.a2gov.org/aapac.

What am I reading?

I've taken an earned break from all of the heavy reading on community development and storm water. In addition to some pleasant mysteries, I've picked up "The Big Sort" by Bill Bishop. How else would I learn that William Buckley once used the word 'epicine' as if everyone knew what it meant? (Epicine: effiminate; sexless) I am still reading the copy from the Ann Arbor public library . . .