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Dharma's Council Newsletter, Jan. 21, 2023

Hello Neighbors,

First off, thanks to residents who came to York last Sunday for coffee hour with Councilmember Eyer and me. We got lucky with a sunny day that allowed us to move outside where there was more seating available. My next coffee hour will be February 19th; more details coming as it gets closer. Before the preview of our City Council meeting for Monday, here are some things going on in our city.

getDowntown Conquer the Cold Challenge The Conquer the Cold Challenge runs from January 10-February 10 and rewards travel by foot, bike, bus, carpooling as well as telecommuting. I've long enjoyed this event; this year I invited some friendly competition between council members and wards. Our Ward 4 Team has consistently held a healthy lead until this afternoon when Councilmember Briggs's newsletter apparently inspired more Ward 5 residents to sign up and log their trips. But don't worry, it's not too late to sign up, join the Ward 4 Team, log all of your trips starting on January 10, and retake our lead! Ann Arbor Community Academy Registration is Open The Ann Arbor Community Academy provides a close up look at your local government. It's free, open to residents 18 and up, and will be hybrid format running from March 1 to April 26. Learn more and sign up by February 17. Community Input Sought for Urban and Community Forest Management Plan The City is seeking community input on the draft of the new Urban & Community Forest Management Plan recommendations by January 31, 2023 to measure if they are consistent with the values and needs expressed during the plan's public and stakeholder outreach that has been taking place over the last 10 months. Before taking the survey, visit city's forestry page to watch the recommendations presentation or read the slides that will provide background on the planning process, tree data, forestry operations and the draft recommendations. City Council Meeting, Monday, January 23th at 7pm Please reach out if there are items on the agenda that raise questions, concerns, or thoughts for you. Email: Phone/text: 734-492-5866.

There are a few ways to share your thoughts on items on the agenda:

  • eComment

  • Email City Council:

  • 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 a Construction Contract with C.A. Hull for the East Medical Center Drive Bridge Rehabilitation and Widening Project ($9,657,770.26). This resolution would authorize a contract to rehabilitate the East Medical Center Drive (EMCD) Bridge and also an additional lane for cars on the west side. This bridge needs rehabilitation work to bring it into a state of good repair. Before my time on City Council, the University of Michigan approached the City with an interest in adding an additional car lane along with the rehabilitation of the bridge. Those discussions led to a cost-sharing agreement between the City and UM where UM would pay half of the rehabilitation costs and all of the widening costs. In late 2021 and early 2022, residents, hospital staff, UM students, the Transportation Commission, and City Council members raised concerns about safety for pedestrians and cyclists at this busy connection between North and Central campus. The ECMD Bridge also serves as an important passageway for scores of staff who park in surrounding lots and then walk across the bridge to get to the hospital. Unfortunately, designs for rehabilitation and widening of the roadway did not address those concerns, decreasing the width of the western sidewalk (the side for entry to the hospital) significantly. This was narrowly approved by Council in a 6-5 vote. At the time, I was campaigning for City Council and publicly voiced my disappointment for a plan I felt decreased safety and was not aligned with the A2Zero Plan, the University's Commitment to Carbon Neutrality, and the Ann Arbor Moving Together Toward Vision Zero Transportation Plan. Other council candidates and current colleagues on Council did the same. Community discussion was recently revived when staff posted a memo informing Council that a proposed multi-use path under the bridge must wait on State review and an easement before it can move forward. As a result of my continued concerns about the project as originally designed, I've been working with staff and some of my council colleagues to push for a better option. City and University staff reopened discussions about the plan for this bridge, and I'm pleased to report those discussions have been productive. According to our City Administrator, the University has agreed to add 2-feet back to the west sidewalk, while maintaining 13 feet on the east sidewalk (an addition of 2.5 feet more than what is there today). Staff will post a new substitute resolution to Legistar on Monday morning. I look forward to discussing this at our meeting Monday night and am optimistic that this will result in an infrastructure project that better serves a variety of needs.

  • CA-3 Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with Bailey Excavating, Inc. for the South Main Street Water Main Replacement and Resurfacing Project ($5,742,710.73). This resolution would approve a contract to replace the water main on Main Street between Huron and William Streets and resurface the street. This project includes pedestrian safety enhancements such as selected bump-outs, ramp replacement, and the addition of accessible pedestrian crossing signals. Staff have been working closely with the Main Street Area Association (MSAA) and community on this project, and it has the full support of the MSAA, who have planned around the expected February to August project timeline.

  • C-1 An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 103 (Historic Preservation) of Title VIII of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor by Adding Section 8:425.15 Establishing the Robert and Erma Hayden House Historic District, 1201 Gardner Avenue. This ordinance (first reading) would designate a house in the Lower Burns Park neighborhood of Ward 4 as the Robert and Erma Hayden House Historic District. Robert Hayden was a Black American poet who served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (a position now known as Poet Laureate of the United States) from 1976 to 1978. He earned his degree at University of Michigan and later was a professor in the English department. Erma Hayden was a concert pianist and at one point the supervisor of music for the Nashville public school system (the first African American to hold that position). The Haydens lived in this 1936, Cape Cod-style home from 1969-1980.

How Council Voted The Ann Arbor Voting Charts Project is a community-maintained for voting history for City Council. Check out the January 9, 2023 Voting Chart.

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