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Posted on Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 5:53 a.m.

Ann Arbor investigates failure of stormwater system at West Park; residents concerned about floods

By Ryan J. Stanton


The wooden sign for the West Park Band Shell rests atop a pile of other materials on the ground near an entrance to the park off Seventh Street.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Nearly a year after the expected completion of renovations to Ann Arbor's West Park, city officials are still grappling with the failure of the park's newly installed stormwater system.

Nearby residents say they aren't happy about the situation and they suspect recent flooding in their neighborhood may be linked to the problems in the park.

Residents also complain that unsightly fences still cordon off drain covers that have been blown off during heavy rains, and pathways and sidewalks near those areas still are not completed. They say they've struggled to get answers from the city about what's going on.

Daniel Marano, who lives on Maple Ridge just west of the park, appeared before the Ann Arbor City Council this past week and expressed concerns about what he described as "a severe flooding problem" he believes is linked to failure of the park's stormwater system.


The torn-up base to a manhole cover rests on the ground near other rubble at a park entrance.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The park was closed from March to October 2010 so stormwater and recreational improvements could be completed.

"Almost a year to the day, we have had two major floods that have destroyed property," Marano said. "I have a bill here for several thousand dollars for a car. There are neighbors of mine who are out of town this week who have sustained serious property damage. And there's the real possibility of danger to human beings, neighborhood pets and small children."

Marano said he awoke one morning earlier this month after heavy rains to find about a foot of water in his car, while other neighbors found about a foot of water in their basements.

"You can see lines — a foot, 18 inches — on garages for a few of the homes next to me, all clearly a result of flooding that has never happened there before," he said. "And it seems impossible to somehow not be linked to the construction or the failures going on in West Park."

Marano said residents have suffered from "these monsoon rains where several feet of water appears out of nowhere and lasts for about an hour or so." He said that's followed by "a catastrophic emptying of the entire street" where the storm drains open up and, "like two giant toilet bowls or bathtub drains," the street drains in a matter of minutes.

"The first time this happened was last Aug. 10, 2010. When we reported it to the city, we were met with derision," Marano said. "One neighbor in particular who reported it was told, 'Well, it's raining heavily outside.' We were aware of that then and we're aware of it this week. This is a lot more than just standard, extreme runoff and backing up of sewers."

Mayor John Hieftje and other members of the City Council say Marano and other residents who have complained raise legitimate concerns.

Hieftje said the city is looking into the problems right now, but he called it "a complicated engineering issue" and said it's going to take time to resolve.

Council Members Mike Anglin and Carsten Hohnke, who represent the 5th Ward, said they're hopeful the city can provide residents with more answers soon.

"It's very stressful for the people who live up in there, as it would be for any of us, so I hope that we can continue to make sure this moves as quickly as possible," Anglin said.


Sue McCormick

Sue McCormick, the city's public services administrator, offered an update on the status of the West Park problems in an Aug. 5 memo to interim City Administrator Tom Crawford.

In addition to other park improvements, construction was performed on the Allen Creek Drain within West Park last year with the goal of improving stormwater quality in the drain. McCormick said the work was partially paid for with federal stimulus funding.

The plans were designed by Beckett & Raeder Inc. and included the installation of eight swirl concentrator units to remove suspended solids from stormwater prior to reintroducing it into the system — both on the north and south branches of Allen Creek near the park's west side.

The project also included “daylighting” the stormwater runoff from North Seventh Street, allowing it to travel over the surface of the park through a series of wet meadows instead of through the underground pipes. McCormick explained in her memo that was intended to reduce the likelihood of flooding upstream of the park.

But during construction, flooding was experienced upstream of the work area during one of the several large storms experienced last summer, McCormick said.

"In addition, in October of 2010, after the stormwater work had been completed, one of the swirl concentrators on the north branch collapsed, creating a sinkhole near the northwest corner of the park," she said. "Subsequent investigation revealed that the remaining swirl concentrators on the north branch were in various stages of failure as well."

In response, McCormick said weir plates that served to divert flow into the swirl concentrator units were removed due to concerns about their effect on upstream flooding.

She said the swirl concentrators were taken offline prior to the collapse of the swirl concentrator unit in October. Currently, she said, the weirs are still removed, leaving the below-ground sewer system to function essentially as it did prior to the 2010 construction — with the exception of the overland flow aspects of the project.

"The inclusion of the overland flow reduces the amount of flow in the storm sewer pipes, and actually lessens the chance of flooding upstream of the park as compared to conditions prior to construction of project," McCormick said.


An entrance to West Park off Seventh Street is fenced off as the city continues its investigation into a failure of a newly installed stormwater system. Beyond the fence, large chunks of concrete are ripped up and at least one manhole cover has been removed.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The city has engaged the engineering consulting services of Orchard Hiltz & McCliment to analyze the failure of the swirl concentrator units and to also evaluate the original design and propose any necessary changes in order to make sure that properties upstream are not affected by the changes. Based on OHM’s initial analysis, McCormick said it's believed the failure of the swirl concentrator units was caused primarily by a "manufacturing defect."

"In addition, we have also concluded that the weirs in the diversion manholes were designed and installed too high, and that insufficient analysis was performed initially to verify the effects of the weirs," she said, adding OHM is expected to make further recommendations for redesigning or replacing the weirs.

In the meantime, the city's staff is still working with Site Development Inc., the general contractor on the project, to have discussions with AquaShield Inc. and L.F. Manufacturing, which manufactured the swirl concentrator units.

McCormick said it's the city’s intention to recover all costs from the analysis, redesign and replacement of the units, as well as any changes that need to be made to the rest of the system, from the manufacturer, the original design engineering firm and possibly others. She said the city is hoping all necessary repairs will be identified and constructed early in the 2012 construction season, and West Park should be restored to its full public use afterward.

McCormick offered an overview of current contracts relevant to the project:

  • Orchard Hiltz & McCliment — $125,000 (expected final cost of evaluation and recommendations report; further design costs to be determined following discussions with the manufacturer of the swirl concentrator units)
  • Beckett & Reader, Inc. — $344,870 (preliminary study, design, construction inspection and construction management)
  • Site Development Inc. — $1,580,877 (current value of construction contract, including change orders)

In addition to the failure of the stormwater system, Hieftje said he can't help but question whether climate change is at work.

"What used to be a 50-year storm is occurring every five years now it seems," he said. "We just have more intense rain events than we had historically. It all comes down at once."

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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.



Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 4:21 p.m.

Although it is good to have that water infiltrate through the soil, keep in mind that West park water table varies from a couple of feet below the surface and more. Also , bear in mind that the bottom of the pipe joints back in the 20's were made to allow ground water into the pipe. So these joints also increased the loading of water the pipe was made to carry. These joints, however cause irregularities in the pipe, which increases the pipe friction which decreases the flow per unit of time. Then, increasing urbanization happened and there was said to be no money to increase the pipe size, despite vastly greater flow volumes. With study in hand, the joints were mortared - "Lets really get this water moving fast through here" you could imagine them saying. "Then we we can trick out our pipes and make it look like we're really taking care of the problem" (NOT) Many will remember the many sinkholes that appeared in West Park, often wherever the mortar broke loose on the shifting pipe joints and the fast moving water swirled up and carried soil away. Real ankle-twisters. Then, the latest round of alterations - well intentioned but sadly not delivering the intended result - were made. This provides many more points of access for the water that seemingly was "taken care of" by introducing it into the soil. In nature, things don't disappear. They just change form. This recharged ground-water supply (admittedly, now cleaned by soil filtration) now enters the pipe through these new access points and adds to an already overloaded, inadequate system. Not overloaded by inordinate 24 hour rains nor inordinate 1 hour intensities, mind you - but overloaded by the kind of 24 hour and 1 hour rains and intensities that we should and should have expected all along .


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

The August 5th memo to council implies that City and County costs are going to be recouped. This is highly, highly doubtful. This has gone on for far, far too long if the City and County has "got the goods" on the manufacturer ... besides - read the warranty-its only for the material cost - not for the extremely, extremely expensive installation . The City says - well - we've used the swirl concentrators before. But ask the County and the City - when and where have we successfully used swirl concentrators at the 150 FOOT OF HEAD - low end of a 830 acre watershed? And, to add to that - as others have correctly pointed out - where there is an extremely impressive amount of powerful water funneling through West Park? The answer was and continues to be never. And County and City and their Consultants Beckett Raeder Inc. and Environmental Consulting and Technologies should have come to that same conclusion - before - not after the fact. And while were on the swirl concentrators, the manufacturer has requirements regarding protective bollards to protect the swirl concentrators. Though the bollards are ugly, if the decision was made to use these swirl concentrators, they should have been installed according to the manufacturer's standards. They weren't. Why not? And no weight was supposed to bear on the HDPE risers at the top of the swirl concentrators. That also did not hold true. Why not? The County and City and their Consultants should also not have allowed a main path of swirl-concentrator-crushing vehicular travel so close to the swirl concentrators. And if that's not bad enough, the County, the City and their Consultants shouldn't have allowed the swirl concentrators to be unprotected by the protective bollards. It is not coincidental that the one that in fact collapsed completely was closest to the path of vehicular travel


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 7:16 p.m.

And speaking of the City Commissions - the Planning Commission, the Environmental Commission, the Parks Advisory Commission .... - it would be comforting to know that the City Commissions are engaged and thoughtful on this. It would be appreciated if you could think about how it was that such expensive mistakes could be made. These plans were passed in front of you, you know. I respectfully submit that perhaps someone needs to ask more questions. Yes - even be a pain in the backside by asking for more detail - and not backing down when you don't get it - but persisting until you do. And when you worry you might be perceived as going against the establishment - do the right thing. Thank you.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 6:50 p.m.

Also, OHM is an engineering and community advisers company. Planning Commissioner Evan Pratt used to work for them. OHM provided some initial input and cost estimate for West Park Design. Why was OHM not the firm to move ahead with the job? Now they are the ones charged with (and charging 125,000 dollars plus additional design fees of who knows what) to rescue us. One might assume that they are good, but one would not necessarily know - we are not allowed to look at their work. City attorneys and other folks have their interests to protect, you know - citizens be damned (and flooded)


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

It is also possible that the County and the City left the "complex engineering issue"(s) and technologies to Environmental Consulting and Technologies - which leads me to again ask - why was Environmental Consulting and Technologies left off the August 5 2011 Memo to Council from McCormick to Tom Crawford? Again, thoughtful and correct answers appreciated.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 6:10 p.m.

It is not hard to imagine that the nature of the West Park Design changed over time. It is also possible that the firm that was a good fit initially was not a good fit as the project evolved. In such a case, why didn't the City and County who were intimately involved in the project demand a firm that could handle "complex engineering issue"(s)


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 6:04 p.m.

We jokingly call those orange fences at West Park "Christo's gates" they have been there so long. But this is absolutely ridiculous. Whatever the situation is, doesn't $1.5 million dollars seem like a lot for what was done? I am so tired of the city wasting our money as if it grew on trees. Someone decided we needed a new city hall while the Stadium bridge over State street is totally wrecked and there are potholes that swallow my tires on Seventh, Huron and Jackson Roads. There were plenty of abandoned buildings they could have used for a police station and/or courts.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 6 p.m.

Some point out that Beckett Raeder Inc is a landscape architecture firm. It begs the question - Why would Beckett Raeder be chosen by the City for a project with "complicated engineering issue"(s) ? Thoughtful and correct answers appreciated.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 3:14 p.m.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. The two previous posts should be corrected to say "Environmental Consulting and Technologies Incorporated (ECT inc) were also involved with the West Park Water Best Management and Practice (BMP) Design. It is unclear as to why their name was not mentioned in the August 5th 2011 City Council Memo from Sue McCormick to Tom Crawford. Why would it not be?"


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

Sorry, the previous post should have said "Environmental Consulting and Technologies Incorporated (ETC inc) were also involved with the West Park Water Best Management and Practice (BMP) Design. It is unclear as to why their name was not mentioned in the August 5th 2011 City Council Memo from Sue McCormick to Tom Crawford. Why would it not be?"


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

Environmental Testing and Consulting were also involved with the West Park Water Best Management and Practice (BMP) Design. It is unclear why their name was not mentioned in the August 5th City Council Memo from Sue McCormick. Why would it not be? It is also unclear as to why the downstream flooding that occurred on Chapin Street is not mentioned in the August 5th memo to Council. It certainly should be. Ask New Hope Baptist Church who had freshly renovated when the waters began rising. Certainly they matter as well. They are wonderful people doing wonderful work - but flooding is not the way to congratulate and thank them for their work. In the meantime, who can blame them if they don't rock the boat but carry on their important work in resolute and uncomplaining silence? The West Park Design was supposed to give them more relief - sadly, it gave them less. Washtenaw County W.R.C. is responsible for areas West of North Seventh Street, the City for areas East of Seventh Street - more than a bit ridiculous because water doesn't necessarily respect jurisdictional boundaries - it is one waterway whether east of a jurisdictional border or west of that border and should be managed as such - but probably set up in a time when a lot of areas west of North Seventh Street were green-fields - the jurisdictions didn't change with the times despite the fact that the conditions did. Please put the fact of Chapin Street flooding in the memo - however vehemently City attorney's may object! The August 5th City Council memo should be gone over with a fine toothed comb looking for other issues that don't comport with the facts. Why was time not taken to adequately research the effect of the weirs which in effect serve as dams to send the water to the swirl concentrators? Why wasn't time taken to determine the effect of the 150 feet of head from the top of the watershed to the elevation at west park in a full pipe condition? This should have been done right and the first time.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

Unfortunately, what we have here is a classic case of mismanagement, miscalculation and mistaken priorities. Ann Arbor has plenty of green space and parks, baseball diamonds, etc. Given that West park is bounded by the hillside, it's a natural place for the runoff to go. The best thing to improve the situation would be to make part of it into a lake, with an outflow into the runoff sewer. Of course, digging holes is something the city is really good at, so it should be able to do it much quickly and cheaply than the Library parking "lot."


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:40 a.m.

I find it unbelievable that all that time and money was spent to not correct the water issue, but also actually make the park look uglier. That includes those horrible fake trees!


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:40 a.m.

sorry west side people. we need to work on idle tickets instead. this is the city council main objective this year.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 3:10 a.m.

Terrence Brennan for mayor!

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 3 a.m.

"Hieftje said he can't help but question whether climate change is at work" I say again: the problem is that the majority of Ann Arborites would vote for a bucket of dirt just because it had a "D" next to it. Good Night and Good Grief


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 2:19 p.m.

How many of these so-called Democrats used to be Republicans until they realized they couldn't win an election here like that?


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 2:03 a.m.

Beckett & Reader is a Landscape Architect. No doubt they hired a Civil Engineering firm as a sub-consultant, they are likely the ones to blame for this poor design. This firm likely specified the failing swirl concentrators which Site Development installed. What is the name of the manufacturer? How many more does the city have installed or is planning to install? I hope the city is making a claim on the Errors & Omissions insurance that all designers carry. It also, states that Beckett & Reader performed Construction Management services, I seriously doubt this.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 1:46 a.m.

Can you say "boondoggle" Mr. Mayor!? The Hieftjeites have struck-out again! I can't wait to see what what they decide to do with the Huron River after all the consultants and other "experts" have weighed-in! Maybe the whole town will end up under water. How many more election cycles will pass before the electorate finally removes the egregious idlers from city hall?! I know I'll be voting to end this ongoing criminal incompetency.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 12:21 a.m.

"In addition to the failure of the stormwater system, Hieftje said he can't help but question whether climate change is at work." 'Yep, in addition to that there broken pipe, I think the problem could be global warming.' Hey, I got an idea there, genius. Fix the what's broke, then see what you got. I realize that AA is the center of the universe and all, but I suspect that even we do away with "egregious idling", it ain't gonna do squat for emissions levels in the area, much less the world.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

The mayor seems to be doing a two step around this issue. With the "complicated engineering issue," and blaming it on global warming. How complicated can the engineering of draining water be?


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

Let's take down Argo dam next, think we can destroy the train station and Fuller Rd.? PS: They got the name "Tree hugger" while trying to keep from drowning in West Park..


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

If there are problems at West Park, what is the status of the system installed on Pioneer's property at Stadium and Main? I saw construction there earlier this there a problem with those collectors as well?

Bob W

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 8:39 p.m.

"The short answer is that the storm drain is being asked to carry more water than the pipe can can flow. This is causes a backup and the resulting hydrostatic pressure pops the manhole covers and floods the street. In addition the water that cannot be drained in the storm sewer starts to flow over land and increases the flooding." Exactly! Considering the education level in A2 and the future predictions of weather and climate, you would think the city would seriously reevaluate it's approach to continuing to force natural waterways underground. It won't work. Look at a map of the Allen Creek watershed.

glenn thompson

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

An intermediate solution is to stop building in the floodplain and provide intentional flood zones. The area under the new Y, 415 Washington, West Park, Vets Park, and others could all be allowed to flood in the "100 year storm". Yes, it would mess up the ball diamonds every 10 years or so. The point is, we need to think in the terms of acre-feet of flood storage, not 50 gallon rain barrels.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 7:46 p.m.

I've got it! How about Windmills for West Park? They could qualify as "public art" and they could pump the excess water out of the park to the Huron River! A Don Quioxte pipe dream?


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 6:02 p.m.

And what about remuniration for the residents on 7th that have lost autos, flood in their basements and a slew of other damage. That seems to be overlooked in most of these responses and excuses by the city. Globle warming, I guess not!!! All to easy to blame that on everything. Almost glad that I do not live in the city anymore!!!


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 6 p.m.

The City of Ann Arbor has been toying with and butchering West Park (removal of the shelter, splash fountian, baseball diamonds and bleachers) for 30 years now. The way it looks they should just let it all go to seed. It was nicer in the 50's.

shadow wilson

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 8:35 p.m.

Aint that the truth!!! It is so sad to see the destruction of west pk.What possible reason could there have been to remove the wading pool.It was such a an image of simplicity and a throw back to another time.....but still functional and I guarantee it would have been used ion this brutally hot summer.Idiotic unfortunately is an accurate way to describe this fiasco.

glenn thompson

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 5:59 p.m.

Council Member Anglin called a week or so ago and asked for a engineering explanation of the problem. The short answer is that the storm drain is being asked to carry more water than the pipe can can flow. This is causes a backup and the resulting hydrostatic pressure pops the manhole covers and floods the street. In addition the water that cannot be drained in the storm sewer starts to flow over land and increases the flooding. This can be caused by two things, an obstruction in the downstream section of the drain or more storm water entering the drain upstream. The weir that Ms McCormick refers to is an intentional flow restrictor designed to force water through the swirl concentrators and is most likely the direct cause of the problem. Ms McCormick did not provide any information about when the weirs were removed. While the weirs are the most likely direct cause any additional impervious area upstream of Maple Ridge will exacerbate the problem. Every time the storm drains are extended to an annexed township parcel or into the township that increases the system load. If the city builds the planned skate park in Vets park that will add about one acre of upstream paved surface. All of these 'improvements' make flooding more probable for existing residents near the Allen Creek Drain. A major failure is unwillingness of the city to conduct rather simple flow studies of the storm drain system. Many of us have been asking for that for years. The important information that the city has refused to collect, or at least refused to release, is a simple flow in the drains as a function of rainfall and the drain capacities. The last rains have not been severe, if the city knew the conditions when the capacity of the storm drains would be exceeded they would not have incorrectly sized the weirs that most likely caused the problem.

El Poquito

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 5:50 p.m.

I've had a ringside seat living directly across 7th. I was the first to discover the sink hole one dark, moonless night - a 15 ft deep hole that came up to the edge of the path. Fortunately I didn't misstep. I watched the work over the past 'Year of Survival' of construction dirt, noise and inconvenience. I often watched 8 guys gathered around watching 2 guys working. [Where do I apply?] I observed inefficiency and poor decision-making at work. It continues. One thing that has failed to come to public attention is the fact the above ground water is being polluted by the application of herbicide directly above and within a few feet of the flowing, above ground water. Downstream I've watched your children playing in that same water - the park's new "water features," they're collecting tadpoles, playing in summer mud like you used to do - only this water has herbicide runoff in it. Why? Because there were thistles. Now there are dead, brown thistles, still standing, never mowed - and water that I wouldn't let my dog get in, much less a child. I'm seriously bummed construction will begin again - and afraid poor decisions and waste will continue. I miss our previous, old, neglected, forgotten park - before the 'Improvements'.

Terrence Brennan

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

The problem is that there is Mr. Mayor I thought the whole "pee on my leg and tell me it's raining" thing was just an expression. Live and learn.

Jon Saalberg

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 5:07 p.m. - this seems ripe for investigation. This project went on seemingly forever, and now it appears that either the city's collective powers-that-be had the proverbial wool pulled over their eyes by the company that designed the project - that they didn't really know whether it would work - and/or that the city administrators did not pay enough attention to the particulars of this proposal, to determine whether it would be successful. But the end result is a debacle, sure enough. Flooding, park damage and more. To my mind, this project was as necessary as the bizarre curb cuts that now litter our Summit Street neighborhood.

Old Salt

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 4:49 p.m.

Our Stimulus money at work..


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

Would not a responsible solution be to fix, as immediately as possible, the problem and then seek remuneration from the engineers (if the design was faulty), the contractor (if the installation was faulty), or the manufacturer (if the equipment was faulty)? It seems the city would rather figure out whom to sue and then solve the problem, rather than solve the problem and pass along the cost of it to whomever is to blame. And although I would like to resist piling on, here are a few caveats to ponder (only one or two of which are petty): 1. Why did it take an article in for the city to release some information to the citizens affected by their botched process? When the city conducts its "prescribed burns," they always tack up an information leaflet explaining the process, its timeline, and why it's necessary. Would it have been too difficult for a city official to prepare a brief statement and post it on the unsightly fencing that surrounds the failed systems? 2. Does the detritus (some of which is pictured in the photo accompanying Mr. Stanton's article) really need to remain in place? Are they planning on reusing the broken chunks of concrete left over from the sinkhole? 3. If the fencing is to remain a semi-permanent fixture of the park - until the city finishes belaboring its process - is there not a way to use fencing materials that are less unsightly and haphazardly erected? 4. Do we really trust the city to administer new park space (e.g. the proposed greenway) when it can't even administer the park space it already has? 5. Although aesthetics can be highly personalized, I still have struggled to understand the orange metallic (are they palmetto?) trees that flank the seating area of the band shell. It seems nearly as incongruous as putting a pelican sculpture in an ice arena. I can only hope that this particular example of, er, "art" was donated and not paid for from the city coffers.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 3:22 p.m.

"In addition to the failure of the stormwater system, Hieftje said he can't help but question whether climate change is at work"... I dont know if thats hilarious or I should feel sorry for the guy.Talk about a parody of Ann Arbor.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

Once again, Failure is a resume enhancement for Democrats! "Hieftje said he can't help but question whether climate change is at work." It looks like the water problem started after the construction started so, How does Climate change figure into this? Who elected this type of person for this OFFICE?


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 3:28 p.m.

well the majority of people are to lazy to vote.But there hasnt been any viable opposition to oppose him.So you get stagnant backwater in city hall


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 3 p.m.

Before Sue McCormick came to the city from the Lansing, Frank Porta was the director of the water utilities department. He was fired for the rare, "100 year rain" that flooded numerous homes throughout the city. I'm reminded of this from McCormick's comments of several large storms occurring last summer. So. What have we learned? Whether storms are 100 years in the making, or large, they are going to occur and the seemingly yearly rate increases to both water and storm rates should be showing some benefits, like not flooding residents homes! Though again, McCormick seems to think that Ann Arbor is a rich enclave and they will continue to pay for these yearly increases and then have the mayor explain it away as "climate change at work", or, council rubber stamping her rate increases, and have this wards representatives (Anglin/Hohnke) hopeful that the city can provide answers. Meanwhile, $2M dollars have been spent and certainly not showing any returns. Yup. There is certainly something idling by while street art is looking mighty fine.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 2:19 p.m.

Ahhh the bureaucratic wisdom and unrelenting march of progress that turns a a once beautiful rolling sun filled park to an unusable overgrown ugly mosquito infested swamp. Priceless! Bungle!


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

Let's kill two birds with one stone. Get some giant yellow sponges and put them around the park. If you paint them to look like SpongeBob SquarePants, they will qualify as "art." Either that, or let's hire (somebody's brother-in-law) more consultants to figure out what was wrong with the first consultant's recommendations.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

THIS JUST IN...Ann Arbor is experiencing a lack of leadership somewhere in the vicinity of Fifth Ave & Huron. Story to follow.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 1:27 p.m.

Obviously city council is protecting the public from the fumes of idling vehicles. Frequently construction vehicles idle a lot. Why does it seem the more someone says the solution is complicated it seems a simple just do it works. Would they (City Council) allow a private person or corporation to leave a mess aslong as the Park? How is it that public is slower then a corporation? Similar responsibility structure. Maybe the 'stockholders' (the public) is too far removed from managemet? Does anyone even want to think about the state of repair of the cities assets (water & sewage lines)? How old are they?


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

I do not see a line item cost for paying for the damages to the resident's properties. Home insurance does not cover "flooding". Trying to push water from underground pipes up to the surface for overland flow will cause a pressure backup in the pipes.

Wolf's Bane

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

I drive by West Park everyday and all I see is a ruin of a once former glorious park. The old, aged trees are gone, salmon colored benches and abstract tree-things that flank them stick out like sore thumbs and are ugly to boot, the chain link fencing and bits of concrete scattered about and the tall uncut grass slowly bleaching out in the hot, humid, sun bare witness sun to the mosquito orgy taking place under the stumpy boardwalk (that will require extreme maintenance in about 5 years). Sigh. I'm somewhat impressed how a city as progressive (and smart) as A2 has managed to ruin a perfectly good park? Personal opinion, sell the land to a developer and let's put up more skyscrapers. Clearly, we, as a city, are incapable of renovating or improving a park.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:46 a.m.

i was a place to go watch softball and baseball games. it was place to take the family dog to run. this is what happens when you have people who do not know what they are doing. all comes to the mighty $$$$$$


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 11:34 p.m.

I recall seeing the debris depicted in the photo at the end of the story months ago. I do not see why the city could not have cleaned that up some. I hope that is not linked to the flooding ("swirl concentrator?") because the city has apparently known about it for some time.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 9:52 p.m.

Try getting out of your car for a change and walking in the park. The pond and boardwalk are pleasant, there's a great new Project Grow garden with lots of vegetables, and lots more people are using the park than did in past years.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 6:02 p.m.

I agree with you. The City of Ann Arbor has been toying with and butchering West Park (removal of the shelter, splash fountian, baseball diamonds and bleachers) for 30 years now. The way it looks they should just let it all go to seed. It was nicer in the 50's.

Silly Sally

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 12:39 p.m.

It would be good if there were an article explaining why the park had construction to begin with. The silly city has spend huge amounts on outside consultants and make things worse. Just think, this unneeded project has diverted money from painting symbols for bike lanes.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 12:39 p.m.

The simplest way to address this problem would be through the acquisition of more publicly funded art in this area.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 3:16 p.m.

there's plenty of art in the city... CS Mott has $1.8 million of public art. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Elaine F. Owsley

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 12:20 p.m.

If it weren't for the problems with the running the City of Ann Arbor - and notable quotes from the mayor - there would hardly be anything to report. Can't they at least clean up the debris at the park?

shadow wilson

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 10:48 a.m.

Climate change? What was wrong with west park that it needed all this work in the 1st place? The benches at the bandshell and the sculpture seem harmless but the rest of it....why?


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

The paths in West Park flooded and were covered with ice every winter. The &quot;soccer field&quot;, which had in the distant past been a city drinking water reservoir, was chronically too soggy to play on. Pollutant levels (from stormwater) in the Huron are nearly high enough to trigger Federal regulations. The stormwater management in the park helps reduce those inputs.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 11:46 a.m.

Because there was &quot;stimulus money&quot; to spend.

Alan Goldsmith

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 10:36 a.m.

&quot;Hieftje said the city is looking into the problems right now, but he called it &quot;a complicated engineering issue&quot; and said it's going to take time to resolve.&quot; &quot;In addition to the failure of the stormwater system, Hieftje said he can't help but question whether climate change is at work.&quot; Yeah, global warming and not incompetent, second rate political leadership from our City government who, as so wisely put this morning in an editorial, sounds more and more like something from The Onion.