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Posted on Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 9:43 a.m.

New survey asks if Ann Arbor would benefit from more downtown parks and open spaces

By Ryan J. Stanton


Liberty Plaza, a mostly concrete park at the southwest corner of Liberty and Division streets in downtown Ann Arbor.

Courtney Sacco |

Do you think Ann Arbor would benefit from more parks and open spaces downtown? If so, how big should they be, what should they look like, and where should they be located?

The Downtown Park Subcommittee of the city's Park Advisory Commission is inviting the public to answer those questions and more in a new online survey open through Aug. 5.


The city of Ann Arbor's Connecting William Street Plan recommends redevelopment of five city-owned properties downtown, with some consideration given to open space, but just how much open space there should be downtown remains an ongoing conversation.

Ann Arbor DDA

"We are excited to learn what the citizens feel is important when creating good public spaces," said Ingrid Ault, chairwoman of the Downtown Parks Subcommittee. "This survey is seeking to understand three key areas: 1) Determining if there is a need for new downtown parks/open space, 2) If yes, what would that space look like, and 3) How should additional spaces be funded if they are desired.”

The Downtown Park Subcommittee was formed in March, following completion of the Connecting William Street Plan, which recommended dense development on city-owned properties downtown.

The committee is working to assess the situation with downtown parks and plans to make a recommendation to the City Council this fall about use of city-owned properties as parks or open space.

The committee is focusing on city-owned properties in the Downtown Development Authority district — while maintaining awareness of additional nearby properties such as Liberty Plaza, where there's already a concrete park at Liberty and Division, and 721 N. Main and 415 W. Washington, where the city wants to develop greenway anchor parks as part of the Allen Creek Greenway.

The committee is planning to hold two public meetings in September to share the online survey results and further engage the community.

"We want to hear from as many people as possible to feel confident we are representing the community desires when we forward our recommendations to City Council in the fall," Ault said.

The committee hopes each person who participates will forward the survey to at least one other person. For more information on Ann Arbor parks, visit

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 email newsletters.



Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

We don't need 500 new parks, BUT what do need is a proper town square to help.anchor/frame the immediate downtown area. If it is so.right for so many other towns (Dexter, Plymouth, etc) why is it so wrong for A2? Oh, and a few blades of grass would be nice...

Basic Bob

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 4:15 a.m.

Clearly, they can't take care of the ones they have. No sense giving them more. It will be easier to turn that gravel lot across from Fuller Park into a train station than it will be to turn it into a soccer field. Then they can let UMHS or Republic keep it clean.

Jamie Pitts

Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 9:50 p.m.

Don't let our prime spot next to the downtown library get turned into a drab skyscraper! Where is our civic center? Where is our town square? Do we really need more flimsy mixed use buildings for "student housing"? We have a chance to make something cool happen exactly where we want it to happen. Common fallacies I hear about parks downtown: "We want big buildings and more development, a park will stop this": there are several huge parking lots around, why not make use of that space? Parking can go underground as has been proven by the vast, cavernous lot created next to the library. It is truly a spectacle. Go check it out. "Lost taxes": parks attract customers to the area, parks make the property values increase, parks attract better workers to the urban part of Ann Arbor. Parks are an investment. "Homeless people": their presence is in ratio to everyone else in town. If we design the park right and make it big enough, all of us can enjoy it. Are we going to let fear of a few folks keep us from doing what we want or should do? "Empty park": if we make it great, people will come. Think small playground, exercise areas, a small stage. People would use those things. If we put the park in the most obvious spot, there is a library right there where there are lots folks around. Main Street will have a new, friendly pathway to get to Liberty. Liberty could have more foot traffic too. We can do a park the European way and have coffee stands and other amenities to keep "eyes on the street" Best get your input into that survey now!


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 11:29 p.m.

From what I've seen in Ann Arbor, they don't the ability to "get it right"; that's the problem; in theory and in an ideal world, yes the idea may be sound, but Ann Arbor needs to get its act together before they go planning anymore projects.


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

Oh for crying out loud people...go to the survey site and be sure to indicate "no new spaces" as your took two minutes to go through the survey


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

Some of the comments lament "lost property taxes". I've visited a little thing named Central Part in New York City. The surrounding property sells at a significant premium. I'll bet people complained in 1857 too.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

I bet they didn't. NYC is savvy. Ann Arbor is not. Ann Arbor can't handle the parks it already has. Once those are cleaned up, then, yes more green spaces. Until then, no. Look around you. Ann Arbor is filthy. Even Ferndale has gotten its act together and is cleaner than Ann Arbor. NYC is now clean. Ann Arbor needs to get over itself and progress from its 60s attitude. Hippie is now Boho and Boho is chic, not dumpy. To encourage younger, talented people to move into the town proper, A2 has to update its entire attitude and look. Young people don't want dumpy. No one, except out-of-date morons want dumpy.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

That's silly...his is Ann Arbor not NYC - comparing this city to theirs is just silly

you can't handle the truth

Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

In addition to the obvious one of lost tax revenue, more open park space downtown just becomes homeless gathering areas.

Jamie Pitts

Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 8:14 p.m.

More open park space also becomes gathering areas for families, dogs (cats even?), food carts, music, happiness in general. What "undesired person"-to-"your kind of person" ratio do you think is acceptable?


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

Only if they weren't filled with drug addled panhandlers.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:34 a.m.

Where is Ormad when you need him...


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

I have suggested a downtown park similar to the Levi Strauss Park in San Francisco. It is an extremely nice park with lots of walking space, grass areas, and a waterfall/stream running from one end to the other. Something of this nature would create an obvious gathering area. If something of this scope is proposed, how about approaching Google to help fund it as Levy Strauss helped fund the San Francisco park? Naming rights would be offered to Google. Look at photos of the Levy Strauss Park on the internet.


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

Grye, sounds pretty! will check it out.


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

I feel all cities could benefit by more green spaces such as parks and playgrounds. The one problem I foresee is that Ann Arbor is a filthy town and they'll go unattended, collect trash, weeds and bums. Look at the areas Ann Arbor already has and take some photos. They are a mess. Before we are taxed for this latest concept, Ann Arbor should get its already existing parks and main street in order. Pull the weeds, clean up the garbage, tidy everything up. Create new sidewalks. Why is Ann Arbor so dirty? Why aren't we demanding this of our city representatives?


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

More parkland ? Greenspace downtown ? Absolutely not ! Why that would be a useless waste of prime real-estate sacrificing billion$ in profits and investor opportunity. Think of the jobs lost and the over-population that must be turned away from our growing little town. Think of the lost commercial enterprise for our new young and vibrant Ann Arbor. The penthouse suites, the offices, the restaurants, all of those Pure M souvenir shops. Just think of the DDA, uh, City revenue that could be collected instead to support our real parkland and greenbelt development. Where we can build even larger residential communities, train stations, and strip malls, and have more art for everyone. I mean, one only has to visit Liberty Park to see what a decrepit condition these vagrant hangouts will sink to if we don't save them now. If people want to see grass and trees they can hop on any city boom or bus and are ecologically transported there in a few ten minutes. My name is not Grand or even Higgins and I am not running for City Council. Nor did I endorse this message.