<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Second March newsletter 2014 sec
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Caucus

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.

The Caucus starts at 7 pm.

3/15/14

Last spring I passed by this hedge.  Someone had picked a group of dandylions and had placed them into the bushes, making each bush a little more interesting.

Dear Neighbors,

Next Friday is the official First Day of Spring – although, as anyone knows by thinking about it, Spring doesn’t reliably arrive on any specific day.  Since February 2nd, the days have grown noticeably longer and brighter.  Since March 1, we’ve all seen more birds around.  The morning song has begun.  The buds on the trees are swelling – even though we’ve had terribly cold weather.

If I had my camera in hand, I could take a photo of that red-tailed hawk that just flew through my back yard.  I’m still waiting for my witch hazel to bloom, but the past few days I’ve really enjoyed seeing the mud.

If, like me, your trash collection is on Wednesday, Wednesday morning’s heavy snowfall was an insult.  Recycle Ann Arbor found many of the streets impassible, and stopped collecting recycling around 10 am (they finished the routes on Thursday and Friday).  Some solid waste routes were missed, as well.  I watched snow plows and garbage trucks trying to navigate the neighborhood streets, and accepted that things were not going to go well.

The City tries to schedule snow plowing around trash collection.  If it snows Tuesday, the Wednesday routes are cleared first.  If it snows Thursday, the Friday routes are cleared first.  And the Tuesday routes for a snowy Tuesday may be delayed by weather conditions, although everything will be collected, even if it means collecting on Saturday.

Wednesday’s snow was wet and heavy – a true spring snow.  This also affected bus routes, as buses and other vehicles were sometimes stuck.  One of our neighbors suggested that the City prioritize bus routes as well as trash collection routes when plowing.  Several other neighbors have suggested that the City really enforce ‘no parking’ streets during heavy snowfalls.

Do you have advice for the City about how and when and where it should deal with the snow?  I continue to collect this advice, knowing that the City Administrator and his staff are reviewing the policy.

(By April 5th, I hope to be done writing about snow.)

Updates

The dear deer

I’ve seen photos of gardens planted with native plants – and then eaten by deer down to the soil.  One neighbor reports that the local herd has grown again.  Another neighbor talks with me about how to effectively deal with the overpopulation problem (Guns? Arrows? Spring hunts?).

I remember my excitement the first time I saw a deer in the City.  Now I hear that one of every three accidents in the county involves a deer – and while drivers mostly walk away, the deer generally die.

Allen Creek

The City – and those of us living in the City – have spent years talking about the Allen Creek Greenway.  We haven’t figured out how to find the resources to actually build it.  And that’s a problem.

Next Fall a UM class intends to draft a master plan for the Greenway.  They will work with UM and the City, hold public hearings, and hope that this master plan can be incorporated into the City’s collection of master plans.  Because the Greenway runs along the edge of the downtown (from Stadium to the Huron), creating this will require a lot of collaboration between the City, the University, the railroad and the Greenway conservancy. 

But here’s a question for you.  How would you like to get started?  None of the ‘anchor’ sites (415 W. Washington, First and William, 721 N. Main) has been changed, although the City has tried.  Would you focus all energy on 415 W. Washington, work to create a passage under the railroad to connect to the Border-to-Border trail and the river, or begin by digging up the parking lot at First and William, creating a green space?


On the Agenda

This Agenda has more than the usual number of Council-sponsored resolutions, in part because the Council postponed many of the more complex issues at our last meeting.  That means the meeting ended before 11 pm; a result that might not be repeated on Monday, March 17.  Here’s The Chronicle’s preview of the agenda, and of course, there’s lots there to read about if you are interested..

Public Hearings

None.

Ordinances

New and amended ordinances require two readings.  A public hearing is held at the time of the second reading.  Public hearings may be held over if the ordinance is postponed at second reading.

Ordinances, second reading

None.

Ordinances, first reading                                                                                                         

None

Resolutions

Resolutions from Council

At the last Council meeting the Council postponed the resolution that would approve a designated area for a park on top of the Library Lane underground parking structure.  In the last two weeks, this resolution has been modified to reflect a larger proposed area (12,000 square feet); there have been several other modifications.

One of the modifications is the reference within the resolution to a separate act: a resolution to authorize the City Administrator to hire a broker to seek bids that would allow the City to sell (at least some of) the buildable area on the Library Lane parking structure site.

Both of these resolutions have proponents and objectors.  We each may have our own image of what such a park might look like.  We also may each have an idea of whether a building should be placed on this site, what purpose that building should serve, and what that building might look like. 
For more discussion of the park concept, you may read The Chronicle’s coverage of a recent Park Advisory Commission meeting and The Ann Arbor News’ article on a meeting about a new entrance to the downtown library, where several people spoke about the proposed park.  Several documents over the years have recommended a public park on the library lot; others have recommended other uses.  Here are documents for you to consider (in time order): 1981 Luchenbach report; the 2003 Calthorpe Report, the 2009 Downtown Plan, 2012 Connecting William Street (plan, appendix, market study) and the 2013 Downtown Parks subcommittee report.

At the last Council meeting, the Mayor presented some preliminary drawings by the City’s park planner with a proposal for a string of parks from Division to First, connecting with the Allen Creek Greenway.  Is this the vision for you?  What do you think of all these ideas?


A few years ago, passing a resolution to waive privilege and require the City Attorney to release previously privileged material would have been rare.  On Monday, March 17, two such resolutions are on the agenda: waiving privilege on a memo regarding tax assessment policy, and waiving privilege on advice from the Bond Counsel regarding the Build America Bonds and restrictions.

Resolutions from Boards and Commissions

None.

Resolutions from Staff

Consent Agenda
Street closings for the Boxcar Derby (March 29), the Spring Fest (April 10), the Burns Park Run (May 4), the Cinco de Mayo party (May 6), The Dexter-Ann Arbor Run and Live on Washington (June 1) and the Mayor’s Green Fair (June 14).

Other

There are other items on the agenda that might interest you.  The by-laws for the Planning Commission are amended and now presented to Council for approval.  The 2015/16 Capital Improvement Plan is now available.

As always, if any issue on the agenda is a specific concern, please let me hear from you.


On the Calendar

Upcoming Citizen Participation Meetings

Trowbridge Homes LLC will hold a citizen participation meeting on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 6 pm, in the Audio/Visual Room at Clague Middle School, 2616 Nixon Road about a proposed development on Pontiac Trail just north of Skydale. The developer proposes to create 154 single-family home lots on the parcel, which will involve a new plan from the previously approved North Sky residential development.  See the announcementhere: Trowbridge Homes Meeting Notice.

Sanitary Sewer Wet Weather Evaluation Project Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting

Thu, March 20, 6:30pm – 8:30pm at Slauson Middle School media center, 1019 W. Washington St. Ann Arbor, MI 48103 (map)


Ann Arbor Station Environmental Review Meetings Announced

Citizen Working Group Meetings 
Wednesday, March 19 AND Tuesday, March 25, 2014
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Fourth floor meeting room, Ann Arbor District Library, Downtown Branch, 343 S. 5th Ave.

Leadership Advisory Group
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
8-10 a.m.
Council Chambers, second floor, Larcom City Hall, 301 E. Huron St.

Public Meeting 
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
4-5:30 p.m., 6:30-8:30 p.m. (presentations at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.)
Lower level multipurpose room, Ann Arbor District Library, Downtown Branch, 343 S. 5th Ave.


Ann Arbor Saline Road Improvements Public Meeting

Tue, March 25, 5:30pm – 7:30pm in the Program room, Ann Arbor District Library, Pittsfield Branch, 2359 Oak Valley Drive, Ann Arbor, MI (map)
The City of Ann Arbor and the Washtenaw County Road Commission (WCRC) will share information regarding the planned improvements to Ann Arbor-Saline Road between Oak Valley Drive and Eisenhower Parkway. Construction is scheduled to begin March 31 and continue until mid August, weather permitting. The WCRC will be administering the construction contract and managing the project.

Argo Canoe Livery Parking Options meeting

Wed, March 26, 7pm – 9pm at the Leslie Science & Nature Center, 1831 Traver Road, Ann Arbor, MI (map)
This meeting is to provide updates and staff recommendations on proposed solutions for additional parking options and improved traffic flow around Argo Canoe Livery for the upcoming 2014 season

Footing Drain Disconnection Citizen Advisory Committee

Thu, March 27, 7:30am – 8:30am in Conference room B, Wheeler Service Center, 4251 Stone School Road, Ann Arbor, MI (map)

The Deadline to submit comments on the Ann Arbor Urban and Community Forest Management Plan draft is Friday, March 28 at 5:00pm

Ann Arbor’s Urban forestry management plan was developed to provide a tool to effectively manage the urban and community forest as an asset. The development of the draft plan included numerous public meetings and public feedback opportunities. You may also ask for a printed copy by contacting Urban Forestry and Natural Resources Planning Coordinator Kerry Gray at 734.794.6430, extension 43703.  Please submit comments by Friday, March 28th to Ms Gray (kgray@a2gov.org ).  Of course, you may always mail those comments to her at 301 E. Huron, PO Box 8647, Ann Arbor, MI  48107.


On the Horizon

Really, this is on the agenda, but I wanted to call it out.  The City Council may approve temporarily moving the polling location for Ward 1, Precinct 7 from Pierpont Commons to Northwood (family housing) Community Center for the August 5 primary.

What am I reading?

Sometimes, I need a break from thinking about City stuff.  This week I’m digging back into my youth.  My first real research paper was on the English Peasant Revolution of 1381 – which means, I read about the first bible written in English, the economic impact of the Black Death, revolution, reformist clergy, John of Gaunt, Richard II, and the 100-years War between England and France.  In the spirit of Women’s History month, I’m reading Mistress of the Monarchy by Alison Weir – a history of Katherine Swynford.  As a teenager, I was constantly confronted by an awareness that women in history books were there because of their relationships with men – as wives, daughters, mothers and sisters.  And mistresses, of course.

I’m also reading A Farewell to Alms: a brief economic history of the world by Gregory Clark. 

Both of these books can be found in the Ann Arbor District Library.