Like many of you, I have a personal connection to MSU that made the mass shooting on Monday particularly horrifying. As a young adult, MSU's campus (SnyPhi) was the first place I made my home after leaving high school to go to college, and I lived in East Lansing until I moved to Ann Arbor in 2003. I attended many classes in Berkey Hall and spent countless hours in the MSU Union. I made many of my closest friends at MSU; it's also where I met my husband, Devon. Devon now works at MSU as the director of the MSU Museum and an instructor. The senseless violence that happened there Monday night, claiming the lives of 3 students and injuring 5 others, left us both deeply shaken. Like all gun violence, the pain and trauma ripples: to the family and friends of victims, to the community whose sense of safety is shaken, and--in this case--to the thousands of students who spent nearly 4 hours on Monday evening barricading themselves inside, wondering if they were next. I am not only shaken, but I'm also angry that we have failed to address this public health crisis that claims lives every day. For our Council meeting Tuesday, February 21, I'm co-sponsoring a resolution that calls on the Michigan Legislature to enact gun safety laws. This includes safe storage laws, universal background checks, extreme risk protection orders, protection for domestic violence survivors and restoration of local control over firearms on public property. We must heed the call of our young people who are saying "enough is enough" and demanding change from their elected officials.
Before I jump into the details on our upcoming City Council Meeting, Tuesday, February 21st, here are a few things to share about what's going on in our city. Drafts with Dharma: Ward 4 Constituent Hour I'm holding my next Ward 4 constituent hour tomorrow, Sunday, February 19th at 2pm at Union Rec (545 S. Main Street). This is an opportunity for us to discuss local issues and for me to hear your thoughts on Council work. I hope to see you there! RSVP (or just show up!) South Main Street Construction Beginning Soon! Work is scheduled to begin on the South Main Street water main and road construction project on February 20th and is anticipated to end at the end of August. The work will be done in phases to minimize disruption to the extent possible. All Main St. business will remain open for the duration of the project. To learn more and to sign up for updates, visit the South Main Street Water Main Project Page. Planning Underway for Ann Arbor's 200th Birthday Planning is underway for Ann Arbor's 200th birthday, to be celebrated throughout the entirety of 2024, with a myriad of events that will be fun, educational, unifying, and inclusive. To kick off this planning year, the Bicentennial Coordinating Committee just released a logo for this celebration.
Allmendinger Park Playground Project Meeting The playground at Allmendinger Park is scheduled for improvements. Please join staff on Tuesday, March 7, from 7-8pm to discuss the design and provide input. This meeting will be on Zoom. If you have questions about the project, please contact Hillary Hanzel, Park Planner at email@example.com or call 734-794-6230 ext. 42548.
City Council Meeting, Tuesday, February 21st at 7pm Please reach out if there are items on the agenda that raise questions, concerns, or thoughts for you. Email: DAkmon@A2gov.org. Phone/text: 734-492-5866.
There are a few ways to share your thoughts on items on the agenda:
Email City Council: CityCouncil@a2gov.org
Comment at the meeting (online or in person): Call the city clerk's office at 734.794.6140 beginning at 8 a.m. on the day of the meeting to reserve a public speaking time. NOTE: you do not need to reserve time to speak at a "public hearing."
A few items of note from the agenda:
CA-1 Resolution to Approve the Closing of Monroe and Tappan Streets for the Annual Monroe Street Fair, Saturday, April 1, 2023. City Council frequently votes on street closures for special events in our city. In this case, staff are recommending that Council vote against this resolution due to public safety concerns that the Interim Police Chief and Fire Chief have raised. Specifically, they mention concerns about staffing and response times resulting from street gridlock with 3 major events happening on the same day: Hash Bash, the University of Michigan Spring Game, and the Monroe Street Fair. In 2022 these 3 events also occurred on the same day, and according to staff "presented significant challenges to public safety."
CA-16 Resolution to Approve a Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Grant Application to the U.S. Department of Energy for Creating an Ann Arbor Sustainable Energy Utility and Launching Microgrids in Three Areas of the City. This resolution seeks approval to apply for a U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office and the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations’ Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) to launch the Ann Arbor Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) and design, beta test, and monitor the impact of three to-be-created microgrids. This award opportunity is only available to States, local governments, Tribes, and public utility commissions. The maximum award is $250M and all grants require a 50% match. The City's work on understanding the feasibility of an SEU and the recent passage of the Climate Action Millage have positioned us well to respond to this exciting funding opportunity.
DC-2 Resolution to Commence a Collaborative Planning Process between the University of Michigan and the City of Ann Arbor for the Rehabilitation, Widening, and Non-motorized Transportation Enhancement of the East Medical Center Bridge. This is an amended resolution from Council's January 23rd meeting. Council postponed this resolution twice while we waited for information on the cost of a barrier between the sidewalk and road; as well as information on the traffic modeling impact of widening the bridge. City staff provided that information earlier this week. We learned that a barrier could only be installed on the west side of EMCB (the side that currently is least trafficked by people walking and biking) due to sight line requirements in the curve of the bridge. We also learned that the installation of the barrier next to a sidewalk 10.5 feet in width will cost at least twice as much (estimate of $905k to $1.04M) as a barrier next to a sidewalk of 8 feet (estimate of $355k-$490k). Because the suggested barrier does not provide additional safety to people using the sidewalk in this context (due to the sidewalk being raised and the speed limit of 35mph on the roadway), it can only be placed on the less-used side, and the associated cost jump on the wider pathway, I think our best option is to move forward without the barrier and with the width of at least 10.5 feet on the west side and 13 feet on the east side.
DC-3 Resolution in Support of Common-Sense Gun Safety Laws to Reduce Gun Violence and Gun Deaths in Michigan. (Sponsors: Radina, Harrison, Akmon, Eyer, Ghazi-Edwin) This resolution urges the MI legislature to immediately act to reduce gun violence and death by enacting meaningful common-sense gun safety laws; and directs the City Administrator to direct the City’s lobbyist to monitor, advocate for, and support common-sense gun safety legislation. If passed, it will be sent to Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, the Michigan Senate Majority Leader, the Governor of Michigan, and to all members of the Michigan legislature representing Ann Arbor.
How Council Voted The Ann Arbor Voting Charts Project is a community-maintained for voting history for City Council. Check out the February 6, 2023 Voting Chart.