Ypsilanti

OfficerGreg/CC BY-ND/ Flickr

The ranks of Ypsilanti fire fighters are growing, thanks to an $800,000 federal grant.

City Manager Ralph Lange says the money will allow the city to hire five fire fighters this year and next.  He says the first five must be on board by April 8th.

Ypsilanti officials say they have received a substantial number of applications to be the next deputy police chief. 

Applications for the position will be accepted through the end of the week. 

City Manager Ralph Lange says while chief Tony DeGiusti will be the face of the department in the community, the deputy chief has a big role as well.  He says the deputy police chief is responsible for the operations of the department and putting in place the policies and procedures the chief develops with the community.

DeGiusti was hired as deputy chief about a year ago but has now become Ypsilanti's police chief.  Lange says he and DeGiusti will review the applications and conduct one or two rounds of interviews, with a hire expected within 60 days.


Courtesy / Facebook / Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley

This week the discussion centers around dispelling the myths of affordable housing. New affordable housing is often equated with being "cheaply built."  We didn't have a definitive answer on the subject, so we went looking. We found that quite opposite is true.  

Our guest this week builds affordable homes in the Metro Detroit Region; quality and efficiency is what makes them affordable. 

Rob Nissly, Housing Director for Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley will discuss the connection between reigning in energy costs and homeownership for lower income residents of Washtenaw County.

Bob Eccles

Ypsilanti City Council has approved a letter of intent to sell a parcel of land in the Water Street Re-Development Area to a company that wants to build a 76-unit affordable housing project there. 

Michael Rodriguez is Development Director for Herman and Kittle Properties.  He says the  3.13 acre parcel on the southern edge of the re-development area is attractive for several reasons, including proximity to the Huron River and Michigan Avenue.

The housing development wasn't welcomed by everyone. 

Downtown businessman Dave Heikkinen expressed concerns that the city needs more market-rate housing rather than housing that caters to low-income residents. 

The city would sell the land for $157,000, with the developer performing about $750,000 worth of infrastructure improvements.  The plan is to have a purchase agreement back before city council in March.


Matt Sayles/Associated Press

Educator and Activist Geoffrey Canada says the US has a national problem with educational issues which is clear through the high percentage of high school graduates that can't qualify to enter the military. Canada gave the keynote address for Eastern Michigan University's Martin Luther King Junior Celebration on Monday.

A new Washtenaw County study says a local investment of $4.4 million in non-profit agencies has an economic impact of over $90 million.  The non-profits provide assistance to the community well beyond the direct help individuals receive. 

SEE ALSO: Washtenaw County Looking At Adding Program to Help Businesses

Director of the Office of Community and Economic Development, Mary Jo Callan says unfortunately non-profits as a sector are underfunded and it will take more than government action to solve the funding problems.

“This report provides a clear justification for the continued investment in our local nonprofit sector – in addition to providing critical services to vulnerable residents, these small businesses save taxpayers money by preventing the need for costlier government services and impact our local economy through their direct employment and purchasing power.” -Mary Jo Callan, Director of the Office of Community & Economic Development for Washtenaw County

Callan adds that benefits non-profits provide the community include bringing in 10 dollars of outside funding for every 1 dollar of local funds, stabilizing the local work force, jobs, and spending money at local businesses.  She says this assistance is needed as the economic recovery continues to not reach lower income residents.

Read the full 2013 Nonprofit Economic Impact Report.

— Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him acluley@emich.edu.

Weather Delays Washtenaw Avenue Repairs

Jan 17, 2014

It's going to take a little longer to get the center turn lane and eastbound lanes of Washtenaw Avenue open again in Ypsilanti. 

Crews working to repair damage caused by last weekend's broken water main were hoping to have the road completely re-opened by today, but the weather is pushing that back to Saturday afternoon. 

The Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority has been working to fill in voids below the pavement caused by water that gushed from the main. 

OfficerGreg/CC BY-ND/ Flickr

Ypsilanti's fire department will use a federal grant to boost staffing to pre-recession levels. 

Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin Wednesday announced the $800,000 grant. 

Fire Chief Max Anthouard says he'll be able to restore staffing to what the department enjoyed in 2008.

The Ypsilanti Fire Department currently has 15 fire fighters.  The grant announced Wednesday will allow for the hiring of five more fire fighters.

Washtenaw Avenue Partially Re-Opened in Ypsilanti

Jan 15, 2014

Two-way traffic is now flowing along the westbound lanes of Washtenaw Avenue between Mansfield and Hewitt, where crews are working to repair damage from a weekend water main break. 

Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority Director Jeff Castro says our recent frigid weather was to blame for the problem.

He says the bitter cold pushed frost deeper under the roadway, causing the break.

A weekend water main break will cause a stretch of Washtenaw Avenue in Ypsilanti to remain closed until late Wednesday or early Thursday.

That's according to Mark Sweeney, MDOT's manager for the Washtenaw area.  

Sweeney says the pipe broke Sunday morning, and the force of the escaping water lifted the roadway off its foundation. He says engineers now have to make sure any "voids" created by the water under the road surface are repaired before Washtenaw Avenue can re-open. 

Patrik Holubik / WEMU

Problems that have forced the closure of Ypsilanti Community Schools the past couple of days have for the most part been resolved. 

Associate Superintendent Laura Lisiscki says only Ypsilanti Community Middle School - Willow Run Campus remains closed Friday as they wait for heating system parts to arrive. 

Lisiscki says district staff has been working around the clock to get buildings ready to re-open, with some staffers so focused on their work that they had to be ordered to go home and get some rest. 

Again, only Ypsilanti Community Middle School - Willow Run Campus is closed Friday in the Ypsilanti Community Schools district.

Ypsilanti City Council has approved a plan for key infrastructure needs such as streets, water, and sewer lines in the Water Street area. 

Council voted five to nothing Tuesday night to accept the infrastructure plan. 

Mayor Paul Schreiber says the city has now completed a couple of important steps to attract redevelopment to Water Street.  Schreiber says originally the plan was to leave Water Street open for any proposal but he says the city has seen this approach left developers concerned about what could be built next to their project.   He says being able to better define the parcels of land in Water Street should lead to more interest from developers.

Thompson Block
Courtesy Photo

Ypsilanti City Council has rezoned the long vacant Thompson Block property in Depot Town and approved the planned unit development agreement for the site. 

Council voted five to nothing on the issue Tuesday night. 

 SEE ALSO: Corner Brewery now Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery

City Planner Teresa Gillotti says the current plan for the Thompson Block is a bigger and better project than the earlier proposal so it needed to be a planned unit development.  Gillotti adds that the changes include adding residential parking behind the building and streetscape improvements along River Street for cafe seating.

Gillotti explained that the actual building permits will likely be similar however to the previous designs, adding the fire has eliminated a bay window from the front of the building and the entrance for the residential portion of the building has moved from the north side to the east side with the addition of the parking lot.

Gillotti maintains developers have two years to complete a PUD, however the Thompson Block faces a deadline in about 15 months for a finished building under the city's dangerous building ordinance.

Ann Arbor News, Ypsilanti News
WEMU-FM

All Non-Essential Washtenaw County Government Operations and Buildings are closed.

Pittsfield Township Government offices are closed.

Ypsilanti Township government offices and the 14-B District court are closed. People with scheduled court appearances should contact the court on Tuesday.

The 15th District Court in Ann Arbor is closed and those scheduled to appear at Court today will be contacted by Court representatives to reschedule.

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education meeting scheduled for tonight has been canceled.

The Ann Arbor Housing Commission is closed

The Ann Arbor and the Monroe Social Security Administration offices are closed 

The Ann Arbor Hands on Museum is closed.

Garbage and recycling will be delayed by a day for Pittsfield Township residents.

The Ann Arbor District Library will open at noon today.

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System is urging all patients who have non-urgent appointments at any of our hospitals and outpatient care centers to stay home. Contact your care provider to cancel your appointment and reschedule for a later date. The Michigan Heart offices are closed through noon today. Radiation Oncology for outpatient services are closed for the day. Most other offices as well as St. Joe's emergency departments will remain open.

The U of M Health System says it will keep all of its hospitals and outpatient care centers open.

Ypsilanti City Manager names new Chief of Police

Jan 3, 2014

Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange has chosen interim Police Chief Tony DiGiusti to serve as Chief on a permanent basis starting next month. 

DiGiusti was hired as Deputy Chief about a year ago, and has served as interim Chief since Amy Walker retired to take a job in the private sector in October of last year. 

Ypsilanti's Corner Brewery is now Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery. 

Arbor Brewing Company co-owner Renee Greff says the name change came about out of concerns raised by the former Corner Brewery's general manager that the business wasn't getting the benefit of  the Arbor Brewing Company brand.

Greff says not everyone knows that Arbor Brewing Company's beer is made at the Ypsilanti location.

She says new logos were designed, and word of the name change was spread through the Arbor Brewing Company blog and Facebook page. 

Mittenfest VIII to Benefit 826Michigan

Dec 18, 2013
Mittenfest

Mittenfest, a massive three-day music festival featuring 40 state and local bands, benefits 826Michigan.  WEMU's Bob Eccles spoke with 826Michigan Executive Director Amanda Uhle about her organization and what the December 27th-31st event means to it.

ABOUT MITTENFEST

The Ypsilanti-based Student Advocacy Center of Michigan wants the Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education to adopt a pledge to use student suspensions and expulsions only as a last resort. 

The "Solutions not Suspensions" pledge asks the state to roll back its discipline code so that it's in line with the federal Gun Free Schools Act.  It also asks districts to prioritize keeping kids in school and investing in preventative efforts. 

courtesy of Washtenaw County.

Ypsilanti City Council will likely have a purchase or development agreement for the East Side Recreation Center in January.  Council Tuesday night received an update on Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation's plans for the facility in the Water Street re-development area.  Park Planning Supervisor Coy Vaughn says the latest design features a smaller parcel of land and a smaller building. 

The new plans call for a 45-to-55-thousand square foot facility on four acres in the Water Street area. Originally, it was going to be a 55-to-65-thousand sqaure foot building set on 12-acres. Vaughn says, despite the smaller scale, no amenities or programs will have to be cut.

The proposed rec center would have 230 feet of frontage along Michigan Avenue, and would leave a 100-foot easement between the facility and the river for a linear park.  The purchase price is to be one dollar, with the county providing $900,000 worth of infrastructure improvements to the site and surrounding area.

Listen to WEMU's Bob Eccles full report.


Bike Ypsi Annual Holiday Lights Ride Tuesday

Dec 16, 2013

Bike Ypsi holds its annual Holiday Lights Ride Tuesday night. 

Bike Ypsi's Bob Krzewinski says they scout the area for nice light displays beforehand, then take a fairly liesurely eight to 10 mile ride around Ypsilanti to check them out.

The Bike Ypsi Holiday Lights Ride starts at seven Tuesday night at the Corner Brewery. 

For more information visit bike,ypsi.org

Ypsilanti Police Chief Finalists Meet the Public

Dec 12, 2013
Bob Eccles

About 50 people turned out last night for a public forum introducing the two finalists to be Ypsilanti's next Chief of Police. 

Deputy Chief Tony DiGiusti is one of the finalists.  He said his 13 years of experience as a deputy chief and administrator have prepared him for the job.

DiGiusti's been interim Chief since Amy Walker left to take a job in the private sector in October. 

ReImagine Washtenaw Right-of-Way Plan Presented

Dec 11, 2013
Bob Eccles

ReImagine Washtenaw presented its right-of-way plan to the public at a meeting Tuesday night. 

The plan covers the corridor from the water tower in Ypsilanti to the Washtenaw-Stadium split in Ann Arbor.

Ypsilanti city council member Pete Murdock says the city is dealing with a lot of traffic issues as part of its master plan revision, and those will have to be coordinated with ReImagine Washtenaw.

The ReImagine Washtenaw right-of-way plan includes improvements such as refuge islands to help pedestrians safely cross the street, buffered bike lanes, and eight "super stops" for Ann Arbor Area Transportation busses along the corridor. 

The next step in the implementation process is to have municipalities along the corridor adopt the plan.


Wednesday night is your chance to take a look at improvements being recommended as part of the ReImagine Washtenaw project and have some input on the issue. 

Nathan Voght is project manager for ReImagine Washtenaw.  He says they've been working with a consultant on the right-of-way study being presented at a public meeting Wednesday night.

The study addresses issues such as bike lanes, sidewalks and safer ways to cross Washtenaw Avenue from the Ypsilanti water tower to the Stadium Boulevard split. 

Find out more about the plan from 6:30 to 8 Wednesday night  in conference room "A" in the County Service Center Learning Resources Center off Washtenaw Avenue.

Bob Eccles

About 50 people took part in a candle light vigil last night to remember Julia Niswender, an EMU student who was found dead in her off-campus apartment one year ago. 

Niswender's death was ruled a homicide, but the circumstances surrounding her death remain unknown. Julia's mother, Kim Turnquist, urges anyone with information to come forward.

Vigil participants walked to the northern edge of the EMU campus and lined the street across from the Peninsular Point apartments where Julia lived. There they lit candles. 

Anyone with information in the case can call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP.  A $15-thousand reward is offered.

Former Elbow Room Building Gets New Life

Dec 9, 2013

The former site of Ypsilanti's Elbow Room bar is being put back to use, with a Mexican restaurant moving into the South Washington Street building. 

City Planner Teressa Gillotti explains that the building has been empty since the bar closed in 2011, adding that having a strong entertainment district would play a critical role in redeveloping Ypsilanti.

The restaurant's expected to open next spring following renovations.

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