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 Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Ann Arbor City Council to talk about Stadium bridges, Village Green, utility rate increase

By Ryan J. Stanton

After approving the city's 2011-12 budget last week, the Ann Arbor City Council meets again tonight to consider several items ranging from a $75,000 project to add wireless Internet capabilities inside city hall to a new design review process for downtown developments.

The council also is being asked to approve utility rate increases expected to generate $1.7 million in additional revenue in the coming fiscal year and a $1.1 million contract amendment related to the Ann Arbor Municipal Center project.

Other items on the agenda include a $2.4 million contract amendment related to upgrades being done at the city's Wastewater Treatment Plant, nearly $50,000 for new drinking fountains throughout the city and a $30,000-plus purchase of new equipment for CTN.

The council also will discuss the Village Green project, Stadium bridges, medical marijuana, and a $35,830 contract with a consultant to assist with promotions in the police department.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. inside city hall, 301 E. Huron St.

Utility rate increases

The council is being asked to approve increases in water, sewer and stormwater utility rates in order to finance capital improvements in all three systems.

The changes, which take effect July 1, will provide revenue increases of 3.36 percent in water, 4 percent in sewer and 3.35 percent in stormwater.

In terms of dollars, that's projected to increase revenues in water, sewer and stormwater by $664,993, $829,481 and $176,915, respectively.

City officials say the impact of the increases on a typical residential customer is $18.92 per year, a net increase of 3.2 percent.

The typical single-family bill assumes 21 units of water usage per quarter, is in the second tier for stormwater and receives a 10 percent discount for payment on or before the due date.

Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades

The council is being asked to approve a $2.4 million contract amendment with environmental consultant Malcolm Pirnie Inc. for engineering design services and bid work on the city's Wastewater Treatment Plant facilities renovation project.

The city is following through with renovations identified in the Wastewater Treatment Plant's Facilities Master Plan, a 25-year planning document.


The Ann Arbor Wastewater Treatment Plant at 49 South Dixboro Road.

Photo courtesy of City of Ann Arbor

The west portion of the plant was constructed in the 1930s and the east portion came in the late 1970s. The west portion was taken out of service in 2006 due to its dilapidated condition, and its replacement is seen as necessary to meet current and future wastewater treatment needs.

In addition to the complete demolition and replacement of the west portion, the project includes other renovations and improvements throughout the plant. Malcolm Pirnie Inc. is producing final bid drawings and specifications for securing permits and soliciting bids from contractors.

In March 2005, the City Council approved an original $3 million contract with Malcolm Pirnie Inc. for various services related to the project, including evaluation of alternatives, site assessments, utility investigation and preliminary design and bidding support services.

In June 2006, the council approved a $427,831 amendment to the contract for engineering services to evaluate and develop conceptual plans, among other duties.

In February 2008, the council approved a second amendment for $2.7 million worth of engineering services to complete the design of alternatives and various renovations.

In November 2008, the council approved a third amendment for $244,040 worth of engineering services to assist in the preparation and submittal of an application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for improvements to the earthen embankment that protects the plant site from the Huron River and Fleming Creek floodwaters.

The latest amendment being voted on involves completing the design, securing the necessary regulatory permits and applying to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for low-interest loans from its 2012 State Revolving Fund Program.

Construction of the project will take place over five fiscal years and is estimated to cost $80 million. Including the latest amendment to the contract with Malcolm Pirnie Inc., the total costs for design engineering services is $8.8 million.

Municipal Center project

The council is being asked to approve a $1.1 million amendment to the contract with Clark Construction Co., the construction manager on the Ann Arbor Municipal Center project.

That breaks down to $693,327 for security upgrades and $397,884 for audio/visual equipment that was not included in the original contract with Clark Construction.

City officials say funding was budgeted in the 2010-11 general fund operating budget to cover the costs of those items. With the amendment, the total value of the Clark Construction contract will be $39.3 million, said Matt Kulhanek, the city's fleet and facilities manager.

Medical marijuana ordinances

The council is expected to resume consideration of two separate zoning and licensing ordinances that aim to regulate medical marijuana businesses in Ann Arbor. The council tweaked some of the wording last month but postponed making any decisions until tonight.

The proposed licensing ordinance would cap the number of dispensary licenses issued by the city at 20. At a meeting in May, council members decided they no longer want to have licensing regulations for medical marijuana cultivation facilities.

Design review process

The council will hold a public hearing and consider ordinance amendments to establish a new process for reviewing the design of proposed downtown developments.

The council adopted a resolution in February approving the city's new downtown design guidelines and a new design review program outline.

Under the amendments to be considered, a developer would be required to submit preliminary design plans to the city's new seven-member Design Review Board, along with an application and fee, prior to applying for site plan approval. A meeting with the Design Review Board would occur prior to a required citizen participation meeting or notice.

The ordinance requires a meeting with the Design Review Board, but implementation of the board's suggestions is merely voluntary. The ordinance applies to downtown projects that propose to add floor area, are zoned D1, D2 or PUD, and are not in a historic district.

If a project goes through the review process and later changes significantly, the project would be allowed, but not required, to re-apply to the Design Review Board for another review.

Wireless Internet in city hall

The council will consider a resolution that authorizes spending up to $75,000 to equip the public areas and conference rooms of city hall — and the newly built Ann Arbor Justice Center next door — with both secure and public wireless networking capabilities.

The proliferation of wireless devices has increased tremendously in the last few years, and city officials say it's time to provide wireless access for city employees and visitors.

IT Director Dan Rainey said the investment will allow, for example, people who bring their laptops to City Council meetings to finally be able to tap into a city-provided wireless network.

"It'll include a city-only network, but there'll be access for public," Rainey said. "We hope it'll provide a better experience for everyone once it's all done."

The council is being asked to approve a purchase order with Illinois-based Sentinel Technologies for $64,571, which is $80 higher than the low bidder, Farmington Hills-based Preferred Data Systems. City officials prefer Sentinel Technologies because it offers a lower cost of $361 on the reoccurring annual maintenance portion of the bid, which city officials say more than makes up for the $80 difference between the two bid prices.

The resolution to be voted on establishes a project budget of $75,000.

Police promotional assessment

The council is being asked to approve a $35,830 contract with Illinois-based Industrial/Organizational Solutions Inc. to conduct an assessment of the Ann Arbor Police Department for the purpose of creating a promotional list for ranks of sergeant and lieutenant.

By June 2012, nearly 30 percent of police department employees filling positions at the rank of sergeant and lieutenant will be eligible for retirement, city officials say, and it's uncertain how many eligible employees will choose to retire when they become eligible.

"To ensure continuity of command, and in order to plan leadership succession, it is necessary to establish a promotional eligibility list well in advance of the date when these potential vacancies may occur in order to provide maximum flexibility and options for the employer," reads a memo prepared by Deputy Chief Greg Bazick.

Bazick said promotions then may be made from this list as the need arises annually.

New drinking fountains

The council is being asked to approved a $49,087 purchase order with Most Dependable Fountains Inc. for 13 ADA-compliant drinking fountains throughout the city.

The city started switching to Most Dependable drinking fountains that were ADA-compliant in 2007, according to Craig Hupy, field operations unit manager.

Of the 13 drinking fountains, six will replace fountains within areas of the downtown, while others replace fountains in city parks.

"These fountains have an exclusive design and are not sold elsewhere," Hupy wrote in a memo to council. "The MDF drinking fountains are designed to withstand the extreme circumstances that public drinking fountains have to endure. Most Dependable Fountains Inc. is the only drinking fountain manufacturer using a solid stainless steel bubbler."

Hupy added that all of the city's new drinking fountains are from Most Dependable and it's beneficial to continue to standardize the drinking fountains.

New CTN equipment

The council is being asked to approve a $30,990 purchase of high-definition portable live production equipment from Illinois-based Midwest Media Group.

The equipment will be used for production of programming for CTN's four cable channels, live streaming of public meetings and online Video-on-Demand web services.

CTN Manager Ralph Salmeron said in a memo it will allow for an increase in both the technical and creative quality of productions, as well as increased efficiency and production output, allowing CTN to better serve the city and the community at large.

Five suppliers submitted bids, and city officials determined Midwest Media Group was the lowest responsible bidder.

Stadium bridges project

The council is being asked to approve an agreement with the Ann Arbor Railroad for the replacement of the East Stadium Boulevard bridge span over the company's tracks.

The agreement stipulates the terms and conditions for the city's entry onto the Ann Arbor Railroad's right-of-way and the specifications to be followed during construction. It details each party's rights and responsibilities during the performance of the work, as well as long-term responsibilities regarding the bridge and the pedestrian crossing at South State Street.

"The Ann Arbor Railroad has estimated the cost of the needed services to be $259,929," Homayoon Pirooz, head of the city project management unit, wrote in a memo.

"Our share of the cost of these services will be billed to us through MDOT as part of the routine progress payments that we make to them pursuant to the project's construction," Pirooz added. "However, we do not yet know the percentage of federal participation in this particular item of work as the bids for the project have not been received."

The project is expected to start later this fall.

Village Green project

The council is being asked to approve changes to an agreement with Village Green Residential Properties LLC, effectively lowering the purchase price of city-owned land the developer wants to buy to build downtown apartments at the corner of First and Washington.

city apartments.jpg

Village Green's proposal for a project called Ann Arbor City Apartments.

The city entered into an option-to-purchase agreement with Village Green in February 2007 and it was last amended in August 2010 to extend the term of the option to June 1, 2011. The city administrator later exercised authority to extend the timeline to Aug. 30, 2011.

City officials say they and representatives of the Downtown Development Authority have been meeting with Village Green on a regular basis since last August and significant progress has been made. The council has authorized general obligation bonds in connection with the project, which includes a 244-space parking garage in addition to 156 apartments.

Village Green also has provided the city with construction financing documents. Negotiation of the condominium documents and completion of the design/development plans for the 11-story project (8 above grade) also has taken place.

A key issue for agreement, according to city officials, was a mutual acceptance of the foundation design, specifically how it would handle the below-ground water table.

"Since this project is in the Allen's Creek area the water table and flooding issues are of great importance to the city and the developer," reads a memo prepared by Mary Fales, senior assistant city attorney, and Tom Crawford, interim city administrator.

"The city, working with the DDA, desired a 'bathtub' design for areas where the water table could rise to meet the deck's foundation. This design in essence prevents water from entering the structure and is similar to how the DDA designed the Fifth Avenue structure," the memo says.

Fales and Crawford say in the memo that it's in the city's best interest to avoid the risk of ongoing pumping by extending the "bathtub" design to encompass the entire foundation. The added cost of the design change is estimated to be about $250,000.

Since a portion of the foundation would have required the "bathtub" anyway, city staff is recommending the City Council agree to contribute $100,000 toward the design change. The developer would be required to fund the remaining $150,000.

City staff is recommending the contribution be achieved by reducing the sales price for the city-owned land from $3.3 million to $3.2 million in the option-to-purchase agreement.

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.


Ann Arbor Red

Wed, Jun 8, 2011 : 5:14 a.m.

i miss the old ann arbor...


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 10:31 p.m.

the officials of this city are so self serving, it's pathetic. Wireless so all those employees can surf the net with more efficientcy instead of working. I want to see an employement agreement that internet use be limited to employment responsibilities only with termination a consequence of violating policy. Any of you officials who like to "compare" yourselves to the "private" sector for salary justification got the guts to implement common practice involving internet use on company time?

zip the cat

Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

38K plus for help with promotions,What a friggin farce I swear I have never seen such waste in desperate times. It just blows me away the amount of frivolious things they waste money on


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 7:25 p.m.

Wow. I am guessing this is one city that would not want "the ability to pay" to hold more weight in the Act 312 arbitration with the unions.


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 3:42 p.m.

The police department can't identify those who are in line for promotions internally? What do the supervisors get paid to do? They're most likely worried about being sued for discrimination. Way to spend tax dollars. Lay-off an officer so you can pay for a study and then promote someone to a higher rank and pay them the difference. Did I miss anything?

Tom Whitaker

Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

Excellent summary of City Council's latest shopping list, Ryan. Ironic that it comes only days after Council agreed to maintain Percent for Art and lay off multiple police officers and firefighters. Also ironic that they approved the purchase of several new trucks a week or so ago, even though they just built a huge new fleet maintenance center that was supposed to enable the City to get more life out of the equipment already owned. Could you tell us where the $1.1 million for the Municipal Center cost overruns came from....the general fund? How much money has also come from the general fund (perhaps by first transferring it through another fund) and spent on other pet capital projects like the Fuller Road Parking Structure, or the Wheeler Center, or the Municipal Center? How much money is the City paying out of the general fund each month to pay that un-budgeted loan for the Municipal Center? (The loan was needed because Fraser built his project budget partially on speculative money from Village Green that hasn't yet materialized.) Even if Village Green comes through, how much will the City have wasted on interest on this loan because of Fraser's speculative financing scheme? Is the City Hall renovation behind schedule? Why are City offices still in other buildings? How much is the City still paying in rent for office space downtown? (Rent savings was supposed to at least partly cover the debt payments for building the Municipal/Justice Center.) Is this yet another cost overrun? The general fund, as most of us know, is the fund that is supposed to pay for police and fire, yet its funds are routinely diverted to pet projects. "Buckets, buckets everywhere, nor any drop to drink."


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

Not sure of costs, but I do know when certain funds, usually Federal dollars, were used for a project you had to comply with the Davis Bacon Act. This is an arcane regulation that requires the contractor to pay wages at a astronomical level and to document the heck out of a project. Compliance would easily jack up a project cost two to three-fold. Could this be a reason why costs are so much out of whack?


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

Absolutely. But you as a taxpayer without a union representing and lobbying Congress for you should just pay the higher tab and keep quiet. Who lobby's for the taxpayer anyhow? Think about that.


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 12:31 p.m.

I read this list and I find it hard to believe that this is the same city that is so broke that it is laying off police and firemen.


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 12:29 p.m.

Infrastructure *Purrrrrr* However, that is a STEEP price tag for wireless internet...yowch!


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 3:46 p.m.

When you're in a budget deficit you have to spend more to stimulate the economy. Or so they say in Washington. I know, it's counterintuitive but that's because we aren't as smart as those running the show. Just wait and see how things turn out; everything will be OK........


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 12:19 p.m.

Democrats at work, keep complaining it only gets better with the current administration, poor fiscal responsibility. Keep taxing and keep on spending. They cut the workforce and add 13 water fountains this year, good trade off.


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 3:49 p.m.

Do you have something against water? People with disabilities need to drink also. Maybe keep bottled water available for them. I'll sell you the water.


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 1:16 p.m.

With the reduction in the Fire Dept, maybe we should have Fire Hoses on stand by next to the drinking fountains.


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 11:51 a.m.

It just gets better 49,000 for 13 drinking fountains? Thats about $3,800 per fountain. We really need to hold these people accountable.


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 11:48 a.m.

$75,000 for wireless ethernet? How big is this building? I can't imagine you would need more than 5-6 wireless access points. Good ones are about $150 each. Cabling them would take a crew of 2 guys about a day. Setting up security would take a few hours. This sounds to me like about a $3500 job at most. I really should figure out how to bid on these government jobs.


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

If you figure it out let the rest of us know. First of all you can't bid on them unless you are a union shop and have the ability to get a bid and performance bod. Then you need to fill out a zillion forms to get paid. Then you get 90% of what you earned until they get around to paying your retention to you. So you need the accounting system and a person to track it all, you need to file a certified payroll, you need to be a bank for awhile, and you have to be more financially sound than the government entity you are working for. That equals $75,000 for all of the hassle and headache. Why do you think health care is so expensive or building a nuclear submarine. Because some bureaucrats are paid to take something simple and turn it into a complex process that takes an army of government employees to administer.


Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 11:20 a.m.

Why do we keep reducing the number of workers, but add more and more regulations on everyone? If we are reducing workers shouldn't we also be reducing the codes (design review board and other recent add-ons)?

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Jun 6, 2011 : 10:42 a.m.

"That breaks down to $693,327 for security upgrades and $397,884 for audio/visual equipment that was not included in the original contract with Clark Construction." Another $1.1 Million. This effort must have a great Project Manager who is clueless in cost overruns or poor advance planning. Why am I not surprised?