Ann Arbor continuing to pursue greenway vision for 721 N. Main and 415 W. Washington sites
City of Ann Arbor
The Ann Arbor City Council voted 8-0 on three separate agenda items related to those sites Monday night. Both city-owned properties are part of the vision for the proposed Allen Creek Greenway, essentially a walking and biking pathway running from the University of Michigan athletic complex to Argo Dam and the Huron River.
The council is following the advice of city staff and the North Main Huron River Corridor Vision Task Force and applying for grant funding for 721 N. Main from both the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.
The county grant specifically would fund the construction of non-motorized trails at the 721 N. Main site. If the city's grant application is successful, the awarded funding also could be used as a full or partial match for the Natural Resources Trust Fund grant.
The City Council earlier this year gave the North Main task force a Dec. 31 deadline to provide a recommendation on the best use of the 721 N. Main site and a plan has emerged. It focuses primarily on converting the floodway portion of the site to park use, while non-motorized trails provide access to the site from Felch, Summit and Main streets.
City officials believe the trail features make the project a viable candidate for the county grant since the pathways could link to the future greenway and Border-to-Border Trail along the river. Around the trails would be wet meadow, prairie and other stormwater management features.
Sumedh Bahl, the city's community services administrator, said he's hoping to have better cost estimates on the project by the end of this month.
The city could apply for as much as $300,000 from the Natural Resources Trust Fund, but that would require some matching funds, and a county parks grant could count toward that.
Darren McKinnon, a member of the task force, said the county grant also can allow for in-kind services as a match. He said the state grant requires a 25 percent match, which the county dollars could serve as, and that means the city would need $75,000 from the county to apply for $300,000 from the state.
Under a separate resolution Monday night, the City Council agreed to budget an additional $32,583 — on top of $50,000 already budgeted — for work related to 415 W. Washington, another city property where an old warehouse-style garage continues to deteriorate.
The city is entering into a $44,498 contract with Tetra Tech GEO for environmental investigation work and a $26,935 contract with Rueter & Associates Architects for historic structure assessment.
The extra $11,150 budgeted beyond the worth of those two contracts is for possible contingency and the staff costs associated with the work.
Tetra Tech's work will include assessment of the extent of environmental concerns with the property and recommendations for remediation. Rueter & Associates will conduct a historic structure assessment to fully document the physical condition of the structures at the site.
Friends of the Ann Arbor Greenway
Bob Galardi, president of the Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy, expressed support Monday night for going after grant funding for 721 N. Main. The thinking of city officials is that 415 W. Washington could be next in line after an initial greenway park is developed at 721 N. Main.
"The Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy considers the 721 N. Main project a first step in the overall development of the Allen Creek Greenway from the new East Stadium Boulevard bridges north through the heart of our community to the Huron River and beyond," Galardi said.
Galardi said the proposed improvements at the 721 N. Main site and its connections to destinations both north and south will provide many benefits to the Ann Arbor community, including a safe space for off-street, non-motorized travel and responsible floodway management.
Council Member Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, noted there have been talks about the Allen Creek Greenway going back many years.
"It's moving kind of slowly, according to a lot of people, but it's still moving forward," he said. "And it's also gaining momentum as time goes on, and I think that's a really important thing for us to realize."
Council Members Sabra Briere, Marcia Higgins and Margie Teall were absent.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.