Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority has asked the city to commit the funds the D-D-A spent on the former Y-M-C-A lot to affordable housing projects. The D-D-A board yesterday passed a resolution to waive the reimbursement of their costs on the Y-Lot property, and encourage City Council to commit as much as possible to affordable housing as well.
D-D-A Board Member Keith Orr says to make a real impact on affordable housing as much money as possible is needed from the five-point-two-five million dollar sale of the Y-Lot.
Community members at a meeting on proposed sites for a downtown Ann Arbor WALLY commuter rail station supported the service coming to downtown Ann Arbor, the use of a minimal station, and for it to be located at 415 West Washington. Many of the people at last night's meeting however continue to have questions about the overall funding and operations of the proposed commuter rail between Howell and Ann Arbor.
Neal Billetdeaux is a landscape architect with Smith Group JJR. He says the 415 West Washington scored highest of six possible locations because of several factors. This includes the fact the property is owned by the city, was closest to the core of downtown, and has track at grade level on a portion of the site.
Challenges with the curvature of the track and other issues where the proposed WALLY and East-West Commuter rail lines cross make it unlikely that site could serve as a single station serving both lines and Amtrak.
An area businessman who graduated from Eastern Michigan University and who continues to be involved with the school has been recognized with prestigious awards for customer service, sales and financial performance.
Steve Futrell is founder and CEO of Technology Solutions in Livonia, a company that works with businesses to develop voice and data solutions.
The University of Michigan Health System is expanding its reach with an affiliation with Allegiance Health in Jackson. A letter of intent has been signed by both health systems.
Doctor Ora Pescovitz is the CEO of the University of Michigan Health System. She says if the partnership is finalized, Allegiance health will become part of the UMHS. Pescovitz says, by partnering together, the two health systems will benefit from shared expertise. This will mean a higher level of care, improved quality, and improved safety as a lower cost to patients. She says both health systems are extremely excited about the potential this affiliation has.
Ann Arbor City Administrator Steve Powers says work on the sale of the former YMCA lot to Dennis Dahlmann continues to go smoothly. However with the city facing a December 16th deadline to repay the $3.5 million installment purchase agreement city council has approved a six month extension on the loan.
The largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history took a major step forward Tuesday when a federal judge ruled that the city of Detroit is eligible for protection under Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Ann Arbor City Council has delayed a vote on a proposed policy developed by the Downtown Development Authority to address the permanent removal of on-street parking meters. The two-week delay is so council can hold a public hearing on the issue.
The policy proposes a $45,000 fee per meter removed for reasons other than an overall benefit to the community.
From the May 2011 parking agreement:
The City shall work collaboratively with the DDA to develop and present for adoption by City Council a City policy regarding the permanent removal of on-street metered parking spaces. The purpose of this policy will be to identify whether a community benefit to the elimination of one or more metered parking spaces specific area(s) of the City exists, and the basis for such a determination. If no community benefit can be identified, it is understood and agreed by the parties that a replacement cost allocation methodology will need to be adopted concurrent with the approval of the City policy; which shall be used to make improvements to the public parking or transportation system.
DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay says the policy could help the DDA work with developers to get the best possible projects for all. Pollay says over the last few years about 150 parking meters have been removed for a variety of projects large and small. She says the policy includes an option for developers to appeal a fee to the city administrator to review if the meter removal is an overall benefit to the community.
That's because last night immediately after the 6 to 4 vote, Mayor John Hieftje announced he will veto the change. Ann Arbor's law requires motorists to stop for pedestrians on the curb at a crosswalk as opposed to the state traffic code which requires vehicles to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Opponents of Ann Arbor's law would prefer to use the Michigan Traffic Code instead.
The difference is whether motorists have to stop for pedestrians still on the sidewalk but at a crosswalk as current law requires, or only having to yield for pedestrians in the crosswalk.
City Council member Stephen Kunselman says the veto means the poorly crafted and implemented law remains in place.
However, nearly 40 people spoke in favor of keeping the law during a public hearing. Community members said more motorists are starting to stop for pedestrians and with better enforcement and education pedestrian safety could be further improved.
Mayor Hiefjte believes the data doesn't show changing the law will help pedestrians.
The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education Monday night approved collecting school taxes in the summer rather than in the winter.
Board President David Bates says summer tax collection is nothing new for district residents. The Ypsilanti and Willow Run districts had been collecting taxes in the summer prior to the consolidation.
Bates says summer tax collection means the district has to borrow less from the state while awaiting state aid payments, which in turn saves taxpayers money because the district is paying less in interest on money borrowed.
Ann Arbor City Council asked the Downtown Development Authority earlier this year to consider paying for three downtown beat cops.
A trip by several DDA board members to Grand Rapids, however, increased the interest by some on the DDA to instead hire downtown ambassadors.
DDA Board member Keith Orr says ambassadors may better fit the needs of the downtown area. He says an ambassador in uniform can increase the perception of safety and be in direct contact with police if law enforcement is needed. He says law enforcement in communities that have hired ambassadors may have shown initial resistance but have come to see them as additional eyes and ears in the community.
Locally owned businesses are hoping holiday shoppers out today will make sure they shop at their stores, not just the big box retailers.
Ingrid Ault is the executive director of Think Local First. Ault says they want shoppers to think of today as "Plaid Friday" and support locally owned, independent stores and restaurants.
Ault says tomorrow is also Small Business Saturday which was created by American Express. Shoppers get a discount for using their card at small independently owned businesses Saturday. She says unlike many chain stores, most locally owned businesses opted to stay closed yesterday to let their employees celebrate Thanksgiving.
Ann Arbor Public Schools are working on reducing the load students have in their backpacks. The move to online textbooks either through iPads, laptops, or desktop computers will reduce the need to carry books to and from schools.
Superintendent Jeanice Swift says some of the recently adopted textbooks already have online options available and the district wants to expand their use before a complete move to online textbooks. Swift says the bulk of the transition to e-textbooks won't happen for a couple of years. She says the delay will give time for new textbooks to be developed specifically to meet the common core curriculum.
Swift says she doesn't think paper textbooks will ever be completely eliminated but could become an extra feature that costs more.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Food Gatherers. The organization has grown from collecting about 50 pounds of food in the days leading up to Thanksgiving in 1988, to sharing 5.5 million lbs of food annually today.
Food Gatherers relies on over 5,000 volunteers to collect, sort, and prepare food for 150 non-profit partner programs and the community kitchen at the Delonis Homeless Shelter.
Eileen Spring is the president of Food Gatherers. She says unfortunately the demand for food remains high, although somewhat better than at the peak of the recession.
Spring says among the challenges Food Gatherers face is being prepared to flip food from a source that can't use it to an organization that can in as little as 24 hours. She says in addition to unpredictability, they also must address the need for food year-round even though more than half of the cash donations and most food drives take place in the weeks around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Spring says a just completed addition to their warehouse will help increase the amount of fresh produce and protein they can accept and share. She says going forward Food Gatherers is working with partner organizations to reduce food insecurity among children, which is particularly a problem in the summer months.
A second South Carolina man has been formally charged in the death of University of Michigan medical student Paul DeWolf.
Joei Alexander Jordan of Sumter, South Carolina was charged today with open murder, two counts of home invasion, and one charge of conspiracy to commit home invasion. Last week Shaquille Jones was arraigned on the same charges. A third suspect remains in the Washtenaw County Jail but hasn't been charged in the DeWolf case yet.
The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority expects to complete work on the new Blake Transit Center in late January.
CEO Michael Ford says they will talk with Dennis Dahlmann who is buying the former YMCA site next to the transit center. Ford says hopefully the development and the Transit Center can be mutually beneficial. Ford says they will also have discussions about portable trailers that are on the Y-Lot as a temporary operations hub for the transit center during construction.
Ford says only about 30,000 dollars remain in the contingency fund but hopefully the project will come in on budget.
As Ann Arbor Public Schools officials look to again address a projected budget shortfall for next school year they are also gathering information on a possible new revenue source. An ad-hoc committee is collecting information on a possible recreation millage.
School Board member Glenn Nelson says determining what this type of millage can be used for will be a first step. He says checking with some area districts on how they use a recreation millage will be a valuable resource. Nelson says the committee should have a report ready for the full school board by the middle of January. He says they would then have the background details needed to consider a recreation millage compared to other options such as trying again on a county-wide enhancement millage.
The committee should have a report by the middle of January so a recreation millage request could be considered among other options when the budget discussions really get going in earnest. Nelson says a recreation millage wouldn't be able to directly fund core academic programs, but it could free up money that's currently funding other programs.
Share your own must-have Thanksgiving dishes (recipes optional!) on WEMU 89.1's Facebook Page. Or maybe there's something on the Thanksgiving menu you don't like?
Looking for some inspiration or want to try something new this Thanksgiving? Sunday 89.1 Jazz Host, and Ann Arbor News food writer, Jessica Webster shares this great recipe to add a bit of flavor and moisture to your Thanksgiving Day meal:
50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated during a visit to Dallas. WEMU's Bob Eccles has a look at JFK's impact on our area, and introduces us to some local folks whose lives President Kennedy touched. The spot where Kennedy spoke, planting the seed for what would become the Peace Corps.