Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange's proposed 2014-15 and 2015-16 budgets include $3 million for the fire department.
Some of that money would be used to repair and department's leaky roof. The plan is to install solar panels on the roof as the repairs are completed. It's estimated the panels could save the city $20-thousand a year in electricity costs.
Grants and other funding will be sought to replace aging extrication gear and buy a new fire truck.
Ypsilanti City Council Tuesday night signed off on a handful of budget amendements that direct funds toward non-motorized plan projects, renovation work at the Freighthouse, and future traffic calming projects.
Council member Pete Murdock says the $220,000 for the Freighthouse will go toward upgrading mechanical systems.
Other amendments include spending $100,000 over the next two budget years on non-motorized projects like the Border-to-Border Trail and a mid-block pedestrian crossing on Michigan Avenue near Water Street.
Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange wants to bolster the city's police and fire ranks, and dedicate more of his time to economic development.
Those needs are reflected in the two-year city budget Lange has presented to City Council which, having concluded a pair of budget sessions, will now fine-tune the spending plan.
Lange wants to give his assistant some of his duties - along with a $10,000 pay raise - and spend $55,000 to hire another city planner so that he and planner Teresa Gillotti can focus on economic development.
This year's Ypsilanti Heritage Festival will look as bit different than in past years, as new attractions are added and others decide to strike out on their own.
Among the elements that won't be part of the festival this year is Chautauqua at the Riverside, which is moving to October this year.
David Nickerson is chair of the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival board.
"With that being primarily presented at Riverside Arts, especially this last year we noticed that people weren't necessarily flowing up out of the park and to that event and to the venue," Nickerson says.
The last two Ypsilanti City Council members whose terms expire in November have submitted petition signatures to run for re-election.
City Clerk Frances McMullen says Brian Robb and Daniel Vogt submitted signatures. Robb represents Ypsilanti's 2nd ward, while Vogt represents Ward 3.
McMullen says a couple of people have also taken out petitions to try and get on the ballot to run for Ricky Jefferson's seat on council. The Ward One representative announced last week he won't seek re-election when his term expires in November.
Ypsilanti City Council member Ricky Jefferson says he will not seek re-election.
Jefferson has represented Ward One since winning election in 2010, and told WEMU news earlier this month that he was interested in another term.
In a statement to supporters, neighbors and business owners, Jefferson said he has pondered the decision for months with his wife, his Pastor and his advisors, and came to the conclusion that "this is the best decision for my family, my supporters and me."
Ypsilanti City Council member Pete Murdock says he's filed nominating petitions to run for Mayor.
Murdock says Ypsilanti has done a lot to "right its ship", and he'd like to help maintain that direction.
"We've done a lot of things financially and things are looking a little better than they were four years ago, six years ago," Murdock says. "I think I have the experience and knowledge to provide that leadership."
Murdock says public safety and economic development will continue to be big issues, and he's hopeful the AAATA transit millage will pass next month.
People who live and work along Prospect Road in Ypsilanti are glad to hear the city has approved spending some money to patch up the road and improve driving conditions until the road is completely re-built next year.
Jim Mufarreh owns Prospect Party Store at Prospect and Forest.
"Long time coming," Mufarreh says. "It's well-needed. It's terrible out there. It's a terrible road. It's been needed for years."
Mark Naess lives in the area, and he says the road is almost undriveable.
Interest in Ypsilanti's Water Street redevelopment area continues to grow, as the three projects currently proposed make their way through the process.
City Planner Teresa Gillotti says most of the interest lately is from residential developers.
She says the Family Dollar store is close to closing, with construction beginning in April or May. The Water Street Flats developer finds out in July whether they've received the state tax credits needed to move forward. And a purchase agreement for the Washtenaw County Recreation Center is expected in the next month or so.
Developers of the Thompson Block in Ypsilanti's Depot Town have secured a 12-year Obsolete Property Rehiabilitation Act tax credit from city council.
Project partner Tyler Weston said the city also approved a Brownfield plan for the project, so the next step is to ask Washtenaw County for Brownfield tax credits.
"What Brownfield allows us to do is essentially get paid back for site improvements at the property" Weston explained. He said those improvements include things like added parking space and structural improvements to the building.
With developers of the Thompson Block securing their first commercial letter of intent, City Council tonight will consider a tax exemption to help move redevelopment of the property forward.
Thompson Block partner Tyler Weston says a local restaurant entrepreneur has taken the first step toward becoming a tenant, and a coffee shop has also expressed interest.
Weston says the development plan has improved greatly since he came on board a year ago, with parking space now included for commercial and residential tenants, along with patio space for commercial tenants.
Ellinger wasn't for or against the proposal when she came to Tuesday night's City Council workshop on the project, but at the end of the meeting she said if it were up to a vote of the people, she'd vote "no".
Ellinger said she had concerns that the city was going to be "left holding the bag" if the proposal doesn't work out, and she said the appearance of the building was also worrisome.
The city plans to sell a 3.14 acre parcel of land on the southern edge of the Water Street Redevelopment Area to a developer who would build a four-story, 90-unit apartment building there.
Everyone who spoke on the subject during the public comment period last night had concerns, which you can listen to below.
City Council is expected to consider a purchase agreement for the project at its March 4th meeting.
Ypsilanti City Council has approved replacing old lights and fixtures in city buildings and parking lots with more energy-efficient LED lights.
Changing the lights in City Hall, the police and fire departments and their adjoining parking lots is expected to cost $48,000, but will save the city between $8,000 and $12,000 a year in energy costs and about $8,000 a year in labor costs.
Rebates from D-T-E will save the city an additional $3,000 to $4,000 a year.
Ypsilanti City Council Tuesday night approved the installation of speed humps on several residential streets near Prospect Road, streets that neighbors say drivers use to avoid Prospect, which is in bad shape and scheduled for re-construction.
Several residents of Dwight Street spoke in favor of the temporary speed humps, which would be placed on Dwight, Hemphill and Stanley. The speed humps – on in each block, for a total of six – will cost the city $18,000