Ann Arbor City Council takes action on fire services study, design guidelines and new roundabout
The Ann Arbor City Council approved a $54,000 contract Monday night to examine staffing levels in the Ann Arbor Fire Department.
The contract vote was among several council actions, including the approval of a design contract for a new roundabout at Fuller Road and East Medical Center Drive and approval of new downtown design guidelines and a capital improvements plan.
The city is calling on the International City/County Management Association to assemble a team of experts to complete "an analysis of current and future deployment of staff and resources" in the fire department according to a memo from the administrator's office.
The memo states the ICMA study will determine the appropriateness of current staffing levels in context with calls for service, response times and employee safety standards.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
"An objective analysis of the call center data and overall operation assessment will be developed," the memo states. "The deployment benchmarks will be reviewed and compared to national standards such as the 2010 National Fire Protection 1710 and 1720 standards, as well as the recently proposed amendments to the Insurance Standards Office (ISO) Public Protection Classifications."
The goal of the analysis, according to the memo, is to develop recommendations for Ann Arbor that will "enable the city to produce the outcomes necessary to provide critical emergency services" and "provide the city with a thorough and unbiased solution to the questions regarding the usage of services."
The fire department is on the chopping block as the city looks to confront a $2.4 million budget deficit for the next fiscal year. At a recent city budget retreat, top city officials discussed the option of adopting a paid on-call approach to fire services in Ann Arbor.
The firefighters union maintains the fire department already is understaffed and does not meet national standards. Staffing levels in the department remained steady at 94 full-time employees for the last several years, until five positions were cut last year.
Formal budget proposals for the police and fire departments are due next week.
Downtown design guidelines
The City Council voted unanimously Monday night to adopt new downtown design guidelines, while appointing seven members to the city's new Design Review Board.
From now on, new developments proposed in downtown Ann Arbor will be required to go through a mandatory review process to see how well they fit the city's vision. Compliance with the design guidelines will be voluntary, though.
The seven members of the Design Review Board will be:
- Chet Hill, landscape architect
- Mary Jukari, landscape architect
- Richard Mitchell, architect
- Tamara Burns, architect
- Paul Fontaine, planner
- William Kinley, developer
- Geoff Perkins, contractor
The board is expected to meet as needed and provide a report back to council within one year regarding the effectiveness of the new guidelines and design review process.
Capital Improvements Plan
Council members voted to approve a new six-year Capital Improvements Plan that will serve as the basis for the city's capital budget for the next fiscal year.
The plan identifies major public construction projects and improvements. Included in the plan is $26.8 million for the first phase of the Fuller Road Station project next year, along with $13.4 million for the project in the following year. Another $1.1 million is included next year for reconstruction of Fuller Road from Fuller Court to Huron Parkway.
The City Council ultimately will decide whether those items are going to be included in the city's budget later this spring. The University of Michigan is expected to help pay for the majority of the costs for the first phase of the Fuller Road Station project.
The station is eventually expected to be an intermodal transit facility with accommodations for trains, bicycles, buses and pedestrians. The first phase is a 977-space parking structure with five built-in bus bays and 103 bicycle parking spaces.
Nearly $1.7 million was included in the Capital Improvements Plan to pay for an extension of the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport runway, but that request drew some debate at Monday's meeting.
As they did last year, council members voted to remove the project from the plan. The vote was 6-5 with Mayor John Hieftje and Council Members Stephen Kunselman, Mike Anglin, Sabra Briere, Carsten Hohnke and Christopher Taylor in favor of removing the project.
Fuller Road roundabout
Council members approved a $460,139 contract with DLZ Michigan Inc. for the design of a new roundabout at the Fuller Road/Maiden Lane/East Medical Center Drive intersection.
Homayoon Pirooz, head of the city's project management unit, said the intersection currently works poorly and is anticipated to further deteriorate with continued development in the area resulting in greater traffic demands.
The intersection lies along one the city's primary access routes to and from downtown and also serves as an important junction between the University of Michigan's central, medical and north campuses, and the city's Lowertown/Wall Street district, city officials said.
In addition, the proposed Fuller Road Station will be located adjacent to the intersection and will serve as an essential transportation hub within Ann Arbor, city officials said.
Funding for the design will come from the city's street reconstruction millage. Construction is expected to be financed from future federal and state grants and contributions from U-M. Fourth quarter investment report
Council members received a copy of the city's investment portfolio report for the fourth quarter of 2010. At quarter's end, the amortized cost value of the portfolio was $200.8 million. If investments were recorded using the fair value method, the value would be $202.5 million.
Recording investments at fair market value, the portfolio experienced an unrealized gain of $1.7 million.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529.