You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 12:39 p.m.

Anglin and Elyakin offer different views on Fuller Road Station project, DDA issues

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor City Council Member Mike Anglin is a lot less sure than his political opponent, Neal Elyakin, that a multimillion-dollar transit center project is the right move for the city.

"There are promises, there are hopes, but the money isn't there, so I would recommend that we move cautiously," Anglin said during a candidate debate hosted Wednesday night by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area.

Anglin, D-5th Ward, is defending his seat in the Aug. 2 primary against Democratic challenger Elyakin, special education supervisor for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District and a member of the city's Human Rights Commission.

Elyakin, a 5th Ward resident for the last 26 years, spoke confidently of the proposed plan to build a new Amtrak train station on city-owned park land in front of the University of Michigan hospital on Fuller Road. A much-debated first phase of the project calls for the city to partner with U-M on building a five-level, 977-space parking structure.


Neal Elyakin

"I truly believe in mass transit and public transportation," Elyakin said. "I believe the city of Ann Arbor will only be enhanced by an enhanced transportation system, a regional transportation system that includes transportation hubs throughout the city."

Elyakin said the proposed Fuller Road Station could be a great resource in terms of transporting people to and from Ann Arbor without needing to use their personal vehicles.

Anglin, who has doubted the Fuller Road project perhaps more than any other council member, traced the issue back several years.

"Back as early as 2006, the city was starting to take appraisals on that property, so this has been around for some time," Anglin said.

At this point, he said, there isn't enough data available to make informed decisions about such a major undertaking. He questions where funding will come from.

"I like to explain it as we have a four-page document in front of us," Anglin said. "The first two deal with the university's parking structure. Those are full. That means, they're written. The next two pages are the transit center. They're blank. On Page 4, you're asked for your signature."

Anglin also noted train service to Chicago already is available with the current Amtrak station on Depot Street, and improvements to the existing rail system are on the way.

"I would put my money more on AATA as we expand," he said, referring to the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, which is planning to expand transit services countywide.

Anglin recently admitted he voted on a $1.2 million contract related to the Fuller Road Station project without fully realizing what he was voting on. Elyakin vaguely referenced that when he offered this comment during the debate: "I believe I can be very well prepared when sitting at the council table to make decisions that are thoughtful."

Wednesday's debate lasted about 30 minutes and included seven questions that touched on issues including the role of the Downtown Development Authority, issues unique to the 5th Ward, city parks, communication with residents and the city's new design review process.

Anglin, a former school teacher from Brooklyn, trumpeted his background as a business owner, saying he knows well the obstacles businesses face in Ann Arbor. He and his wife have operated a bed and breakfast, the First Street Garden Inn, on Ann Arbor's Old West Side for years. An electrician, he also has a background in construction.

Anglin, who came to Ann Arbor in 1992, acknowledged he's been a minority voice on council at times, but he thinks he brings a strong, rational position that many in the community agree with. He and Elyakin offered different perspectives on the role of the DDA.

"I do believe that it serves an enormous function in the city in looking at how we develop our city," Elyakin said. "The fact that the DDA operates the parking lots or the parking structures is a small part of what they do. And I believe sometimes we get caught up in a little controversy without looking at the larger issue."

Elyakin added that the DDA helps ensure the "reasonable, intentional, measured, future-oriented growth of the city."

"We can do that without losing the small town sense of what Ann Arbor is, but we have to work together," he said.

Anglin agreed the DDA's mission is to promote business and economic development in downtown Ann Arbor, but he used his response time to talk about its financing and the fact that its governing body is unelected. The authority captures new tax revenues that result from improvements in the downtown, and that income has grown substantially since 2002 due to new developments. It's nearly $4 million annually, up from less than $2.9 million in 2002.

"What the public needs to know is that all new building that takes place in the DDA area is subject to a TIF, tax-increment financing," Anglin said. "So the amount of money that is collected in the DDA area for additional taxes stays with the DDA for future projects they have. And the TIF is actually taking from education, Washtenaw Community College — things we support as a community. So in turn, while we develop our downtown, we're also developing a base of a different type of government, a non-elected government."

Elyakin said in his opening remarks he believes in reasonable growth, regional leadership, mass transit, bringing business into the city, and keeping the city safe.

"I believe in Ann Arbor and I have a passion and I care very deeply about the future of this city," he said. "I care about our collective future."

Elyakin said the city's parks are treasures.

"We should protect our parks. We should keep them for as long as we possibly can keep them," he said. "I understand that everything needs to be on the table in tough economic times, but I would love to be able to protect all of our parks in perpetuity if we can."

Anglin noted city voters passed a charter amendment in recent years that requires the sale of city park land to go to a vote of the people. Now the city is talking about repurposing a portion of Fuller Park to make way for the Fuller Road Station project without voter approval.

"Part of that agreement we made with the public was not to sell park land, but also 'reuse' I think might have been implied in that vote," he said. "So I am not one for wanting to repurpose the parks for other reasons. I think if it is done, that has to go to a vote of the people."


Mike Anglin

Both candidates spoke in favor of the city's new design review process that requires developers who want to build in the downtown go through a Design Review Board hearing.

Anglin said he's been heavily involved in issues of all kinds during his last four years on council. He said he enjoys taking phone calls from residents, no matter how small the issue.

"We get phone calls about barking dogs," he said. "We get phone calls about serious things like flooding conditions. We get phone calls about police protection. I think some of the most satisfying parts of my service on the City Council is working with the residents."

Anglin said the strength of the 5th Ward is its citizens, and one of his top goals is to work to keep Ann Arbor an affordable city.

"You can expect progress but it comes at a price, and the price will be people who can't afford it and may have to leave," he said. "That may not be something that we, as a city, want to encourage. This is a small midwestern town with a big university with it, and that's how I view our area and the 5th Ward."

Elyakin threw in a jab at Anglin.

"A few naysayers, while I applaud every person's right to speak up and speak out, should not hold the city hostage — whether they are in the audience or sitting on council," he said.

Elyakin spoke of preserving the charm of the Old West Side and working to improve traffic flow in the Maple/Jackson area. Street repairs and crosswalks also are important issues, he said.

Asked why he's running against Anglin, Elyakin shared his vision for Ann Arbor, which includes dense downtown development and a future economy that supports job creation.

"I'm running now because I believe my skills in thinking creatively about the future, my skills in understanding and working with a diverse set of people, will be crucial on the City Council as we move ahead in these uncertain economic times," he said.

Related stories:

2ND WARD DEBATE: Rapundalo and Hull share different thoughts on cuts to public safety in Ann Arbor

3RD WARD DEBATE: Ault goes on attack against Kunselman, while second challenger praises incumbent

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.

The anti-elyakin multiple commenters here are known allies of a local synagogue stalking / jew baiting group ( which includes the Green Party and the abovementioned " women's hall of famer " whose own daughter ---once a fellow harasser--- has publically repudiated her mom)...... That said, if elyakin tries to intrude irrelevant foreign policy issues into a local city council he is as liable to scorn as those mentioned who regularly ( albeit fruitlessly ) and tiresomely try the same thing ....over and over and over etc etc.

Kai Petainen

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 4:19 p.m.

Since the fuller station construction has already started (or so it seems). Is debate necessary anymore? Drive by the lot and you'll see that construction is starting.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 7:58 p.m.

I have driven by it and you are correct. The debate seems to be centered on why City Council may have authorized construction improvidently and with undue haste. That appears to be Neal's jab at Mike Anglin.

Stuart Brown

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 4:39 a.m.

If people what another example of where stalwart support of Israel leads, look here: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> --the article quotes a top CIA officer who alleges that Israel will probably attack Iran in September. What does this have to do with local Ann Arbor politics? There has been a history of the council taking up anti-war resolutions in the past and so voters might want to know where a candidate stands if called on to vote on this type of resolution.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 7:50 p.m.

Exactly, in fact Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution against the U.S. involvement in the conflict in Iraq. This is why Mr. Elyakin's pro-IDF stance bears relevance to his quest for a City Council seat as much as it did to a seat on the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 2:58 a.m.

For those interested in candidate Neal Elyakin's voluminous observations and commentary on the Israel-Palestine issue, please check out &quot;Neal's Blog&quot; at <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> The March 22, 2009 blog entry therein contains the &quot;myth&quot; description alluded to above and also contains many viewpoints that could be deemed controversial. I think most would find the commentary therein to be interesting to say the least.

Stuart Brown

Sun, Jul 17, 2011 : 11:20 p.m.

Controversy said, &quot;So what? So Mr. Elyakin supports Israel. His public blog does too. It's called 'Neal's Blog'. In his blog, he says: &quot;the myth of the Palestinian People serves as the justification for Arab occupation of the Land of Israel.&quot; Who cares? If Mr. Elyakin says there is an Arab occupation of Israel, it's interesting reading. If Mr. Elyakin says it on the city council, that will be interesting TV. I just hope he thinks twice about any huge building projects that might ruin the Huron River. I care about the Huron River.&quot; Who cares? If Mr. Elyakin is capable of telling a whopper like &quot;the myth of the Palestinian People serves as the justification for Arab occupation of the Land of Israel...&quot; what else is he capable of?


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 2:50 a.m.

The term &quot;whopper&quot; is an excellent choice to describe the &quot;myth&quot; comment of Mr. Elyakin.

Hannan Lis

Sat, Jul 16, 2011 : 1:11 a.m.

I happen to know Neal as a really smart and ethical person. He is very much, a supporter of Israel and has extensive connection to Israel. As of this morning, Israel is indeed, an ally of the USA, has full deplomatic relations with the US and enjoys wide public support withing the American public, I fail to see the problem. If anything, Israel can serve as a great expample to Michigan as we try to turn our state fortunes around. Now to the issue at hand. Neal has spent a long and distinguished career as a Speical Education teacher and is an expert in many areas related to special education. People who choose education, especailly special education as their life-long vocation are individuals that believe in community and public service. Neal's ability to create consensus, his skills with working with parents teachers and administrators, his dedication to his students and his strong commitment to improving his community are all values derived from his strong Jewish background. So for those who are attacking Neal for being a supporter of Israel, I can only assume that your strong feelings against Israel as an independent Jewish state are the core of your conviction. I can recall a not-so-long-ago period when people such as Neal were attacked for their heritage and ethnicity. Since Neal has demonstrated a life-long ability to separate his personal feelings and interests from his public and professional carreer, I think it's only fair to allow Neal to compete for this important elected position on his merit. Any attempt to do otherwise, reflects values and behaviors which are un-American, anti-democratic and reminiscent of an era long-gone. I know the people attacking Neal as a friend of Israel go out of their way to explain that they are not anti-semitic but rather just concerned with human rights. I for one see them as just a modern version of classic anti semites.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 3:06 a.m.

Hannan, you should also mention that you are a fellow Jewish National Fund official with Neal. No one is attacking Neal for supporting Israel or attacking his character or intelligence. Israel is a nation like Syria or Egypt that could benefit from constructive criticism; I see Neal's viewpoints as disclosed on his blog to be erroneous and slanted against the Palestinians in some ways. Neal is a Human Rights Commissioner in A2 and his views of the Palestinians would clash with what I would consider to be fair and equal treatment as defined by most Americans. I fail to see how criticism of Israel equates with anti-Semitism.

A long hot summer

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 7:25 p.m.

I am not sue if support for Israel is the same as support for &quot;Israeli Defense forces&quot; (IDF). Many Americans support Israel, but IDF is another matter. How does Roadman know that Mr. Elyakin is a member of &quot;Friends of the Israel Defense Forces&quot;?


Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 8:38 p.m.

Neal's &quot;Linked In&quot; page indicates that he is a founding member of the Michigan chapter of &quot;Friends of the Israel Defense Forces&quot;. It is one of many sources identifying him with that organization.

A long hot summer

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

Controversy: Getting back to &quot;the recurring theme of Mr. Elyakin's support for Israel&quot;; how do you, Controversy, see that as an issue in the local city council elections? Why should a candidate's support for Israel or any other country, be an issue? As a city council member, would Mr. Elyakin be in a position to influence local and/ or national policy? How could Mr. Elyakin's preference for Israel hut Ann Arbor? That is my question?


Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

Holy cow, Anglin has been a teacher, a bed and breakfast owner, an electrician, and now a council person!?!? I've seen very few people in my life who has worn that many different hats.


Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 6:39 p.m.

Check out County Commissioner Barbara Levin Bergman. She has literally worn many different hats.

Dog Guy

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 12:25 a.m.

Elyakin, a lifelong tax-consumer as I am, would be a fit representative and may be expected to cooperate with the council majority. Anglin, who works for a living, is out of touch with Ann Arbor's city hall agenda.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 11:59 p.m.

We do not need another &quot;yes man&quot; on the city council. We need someone who questions the sanity of some wacky ideas. We need Mike. Go Mike Go!


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 11:27 p.m.

I read this and see that we have a choice between tweedledumb and tweedledolt. It's too bad that we do not have real democracy in the People's Democratic Republic of Ann Arbor.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 9:43 p.m.

Elyakin showed intelligence, forward thinking and open mindedness. He seems willing to study the facts and make thoughtful decisions. He's got my vote!

Karen Hart

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 9:24 p.m.

One of the positive aspects of our local government is that the ward system ensures equal representation of all parts of the city. One of its drawbacks is that it tends to foster parochial thinking and makes it difficult to gain the perspective of what's good for the whole city. In this day and age, when so many of our challenges in fact extend outside our city borders, we need people on city council who naturally look at the big picture and consider the common good as a priority. Representative government is just that: I vote for someone to represent me, to consult me about what I think is important, but I expect them to educate me in return. That way, I can support their decisions, made on my behalf, so that I understand their position even if I don't agree with a particular vote. Mr. Anglin tends to be a nay-sayer and not a consensus builder. He often takes the position that his constituents are against &quot;it,&quot; so he is. Anyone who supports public transit and a thriving downtown, where growth revenues are reinvested to ensure it stays lively, belongs on council. Neal Elyakin gets my vote. (And btw, I'm pretty sure he'd take the bus to work (WISD) if AATA went there, but it doesn't.)

Tony Dearing

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 5:29 p.m.

Deb, we're glad to address concerns about moderation directly. See the email I sent you.


Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

how in the world did either of my comments violate??????????

Bob Carlin

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 12:53 a.m.

Congratulations to Neal's supporters for getting out the vote on! Does this represent public opinion or it is just a small group? I guess we'll see at the polls.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

Two words describe Mike Anglin: Local hero.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

Mike Anglin exhibited great ing knowledge of the DDA, whereas Mr. Elyakin admitted he had done little study on the histotr of that group other than knowing it was formed in 1972. Mr. Elyakin did not mention his background as a Human Rights Commissioner or the controversy that swirled when he received that appointment. Both men are from Brooklyn, but Mr. Anglin has the fuller background as an educator, business operator and construction contractor. Neal's primary backround is in education administration. Anglin on balance is the better candidate and deserves our support on August 2nd.


Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 12:27 a.m.

The only &quot;swirling' at elyakins appointement to Human Rights Commission was by your extremist friends, who are always pretty swirly ( which inevitably leads to their obvious dizzyness!) to no useful purpose. That said , Anglin is a good councilman / candidate although leave it to you , in a subsequent post, to elevate him to 'heroic ' status..

Common Sense

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

What does Mr. Elyakin do for a living??? What bus does he take to work?? I think the current train station on Depot St. is just the right size for A2. There should, however, be better access to the parking lot across the tracks to the north. You could just add better bus access from the depot to the University Hospital for all of those employees who take the train to work! Better to spend limited financial resources for public transportation elsewhere in A2.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 8:10 p.m.

Neal has a background in education administration.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 7:20 p.m.

completely agree, train traffic has only increased by about 1% a year for 15 yrs. It serves close to the same amount of passengers it did in 1997 as it does now. I still have yet to hear why we cant reuse this station or the space it sits on.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

Is that a lavender sport jacket?


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 6:51 p.m.

A candidate that supports the DDA and the U parking structure is not a candidate for the people of the fifth ward, I cannot support Elaykin


Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

Everything I visually see that the dda has done annoys me. The signs they put up, the underground parking structure, the new parking meter system, etc. etc.

Marvin Face

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 8:52 p.m.

One more thing. With all that said, its clear that he will again win by a landslide using the nice guy angle.

Marvin Face

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

Oops not finished. You know why he 'splains things in such a simple way? It's the only way he can understand it himself. He's a good guy. Just plain 'ol nice. I'll give him that. I just need someone a little more forward thinking when it comes to the governance of the City.

Marvin Face

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 8:47 p.m.

Not so fast, deb. I live in the 5th. OWS resident for over 20 years. I fully support the DDA, how they're structured, and the work they do to make AA a better place for business and a better place to live. Granted, I could care less about the UM parking deck train thingy. Mike Anglin is not the candidate for me, that's for sure. You know why he 'splains

Mr Blue

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

The Huron River is NOT the place for rail. The river's beauty will only become more spoiled if any kind inceased rail traffic is located there. At one time, many decades ago it made sense, but at this time when we are considering building new and possibly high speed rail with mass transit feeders into smaller cities like ours it's time to get the ugliness out of the Huron River valley and put it along existing mass transit routes. Put any and all rail, high speed or otherwise parallel to and along the I-94 and I-96 corridors.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

The rails and the right-of-way on which they are located belong to the railroad, which will continue to run freights. Commuter trains are second-class citizens. The money to upgrade the roadbed for higher speed trains has not been available, and many in Congress still want to kill Amtrak. Sure, in an ideal world the rail line could be moved and the riverbank landscaped, but there is no chance of this happening. Meanwhile, killing the prospective station would only harm passenger service while the freights continue.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 8:57 p.m.

I've been saying that a long time too. Realign the mass transit corridor now, it's a move people will thank us for in the future.

Mr Blue

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 7:05 p.m.

You're right, you can't move the river, but rail lines CAN be relocated. In the near future the Huron River valley will become far more valuable for people and recreation than its current use as a rail corridor. It's a lot easier and cheaper to do a state of the art rail along existing highway systems with federal rights of way than it would be to do the same thing along many existing rail lines. Many existing rail lines were constructed for the Industrial Revolution and long gone rust belt industries. In many cases they are not along routes where people and good normally travel. Move Amtrak and all rail lines out to State or Main and I-94 in locate bus and light rail transfer stations and feeder routes into communities along the routes of major highways.

Joe Kidd

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 6:36 p.m.

If you go west on Huron River Dr you will see the rail much closer than at Fuller and E Med Ctr Dr. Can't move the river and can't move the rail road tracks.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 5:56 p.m.

In commenting on the pending construction of yet another huge parking structure: &quot;Elyakin said the proposed Fuller Road Station could be a great resource in terms of transporting people to and from Ann Arbor without needing to use their personal vehicles.&quot; So if personal vehicles are not needed, why not just skip phase I (the parking structure) and just build a bus terminal and train platform? Building a massive parking structure for hospital commuters does absolutely nothing to support mass transit!

Tom Whitaker

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

Yes, I wish Mr. Elyakin would explain how a 977-space parking structure, with the capacity to be easily expanded to 1643 spaces in ANY way contributes to his goal of improving mass transit and public transportation. Further, how can he &quot;treasure&quot; and protect our parks while simulatneously endorsing the taking of 20 acres of Fuller park for this massive parking structure? I also find it interesting that Mayor Hieftje has not lent his name to Mr. Elyakin's list of endorsers on his website. (And note to Mr. Elyakin--endorsements from Sandi Smith and Joan Lowenstein will only harm your chances in the Fifth Ward, not help them.) Looks like another landslide for Anglin to me.


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.

The rest of the phases arent guarnteed to take place. Once again the city has no other reason to do this then to help the U. The city has never given us a real reason why a new station could not be built where the current one is, or why that station could not be remodled. The new parking structure for the U increases the spots available compared to the current amtrack station by 50. It is simply not worth 10 million for a fifty spot increase.

Joe Kidd

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 6:34 p.m.

It's the first phase of the project, which is in the article. See paragraph 4. Many projects are built in phases. Mass transit may become a huge benefit when people realize gasoline prices are not going to drop to levels we have enjoyed for many years. What I am wondering is how will people who get off the train continue their travel. Will there be a bus station there too?


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 6:27 p.m.

ken, No its not, the city just approved a relocation of sewer and water lines for over a million, the U is paying only for the proportion of parking spots they will own


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 6:22 p.m.

Building a massive parking structure for hospital commuters does absolutely nothing to support mass transit! Without the Hospital and University Commuters AATA will cease to exist! BTW, it is the University that will be PAYING for the Parking Garage at Fuller Road Station...........NOT THE CITY!! Read between the lines.

Bob Carlin

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

Great comment by Anglin about the Fuller parking garage that city council is planning to build for the university: &quot;I like to explain it as we have a four-page document in front of us,&quot; Anglin said. &quot;The first two deal with the university's parking structure. Those are full. That means, they're written. The next two pages are the transit center. They're blank. On Page 4, you're asked for your signature.&quot; That's Mike's strength, sticking with the truth and saying it simply. I'll be voting for Mike.

Joe Kidd

Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 6:45 p.m.

You know, Bob, I had a different feeling when I read about the four page document with two blank pages or two pages written with invisible ink. If the document is a city document and he is on City Council, isn't he at least partly responsible to see such documents are complete? If City Council members cannot get it finished, who can? If it is not finished why isn't he to blame? Aren't he and his colleagues responsible for that? I suppose though that if you like Nancy Pelosi you will like Mr Anglin as he follows her practice, vote on an issue then read it and find out what is in it (see paragraph 13). Is that the kind of council person you want, one who votes for an issue without knowing what he is voting on?


Thu, Jul 14, 2011 : 5:50 p.m.

Agreed 100%, Bob!