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Posted on Sun, Nov 28, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.

Ann Arbor residents deserve a clear explanation on future of Huron Hills

By Letters to the Editor

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje.

I know that we are bombarding you with our concerns, but I just don't get it when you can say there is no plan to dismantle Huron Hills. Miles of Golf will be very disappointed to hear that!

We have read their complete proposal, which is now the ONLY proposal on the slate, and it calls for building their huge complex on our city-owned parkland. Wouldn't such commercialization dismantle the park? I know it is a three-phase process, but once it is signed, sealed and delivered, the park is essentially a goner as their proposal was not to just manage the golf course

My concern is only for the parkland, and the dangerous precedent that leasing our public lands for private use sets. And the real irony is that we the Ann Arbor taxpayers are paying so many millions for the Greenbelt to buy development rights on land outside the city, while there are plans to essentially "sell" (isn't a 20-year lease a de facto sale?) some of the most visible and beautiful property inside the city. As someone from Webster Township said in a blog, "It's great for us, but don't you feel a bit taken?" I do. I really hope that your minds are open, and that you won't let this happen. But why the RFP then if you and the council have no intention of dismantling the course and perhaps will even provide the funding for a huge commercial complex? (In their proposal Miles of Golf suggests that the city will have to "help" with their building project). I want to believe you in the worse way! But when you say "The city has no plan to do anything to Huron Hills. No plan to lease it, no plan to put up a building or allow anyone else to, no plan to destroy anything. No plan other than to open it as an 18 hole golf course in the spring," the RFP and throwing out the proposal to run the golf course as a nonprofit MAKES NO SENSE.

I wish that you or our Ward 2 council members would sit down and explain this to all of us, who are very unhappy and concerned, so it does make sense.

Ann Schriber Ann Arbor


Stephen Landes

Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 9:31 p.m.

@DagnyJ The issue today is the golf course, but tomorrow it could be YOUR neighborhood park. What we're talking about is setting a precedent for leasing parkland for commercial development. Once we head down this path it is much easier to say that we don't really need all the little neighborhood parks: they are expensive to maintain and produce no revenue, so let's get rid of them and just have a few big parks. You can make snide comments today because you think this is a "rich neighbor" issue, but tomorrow you may be the one complaining. Personally, I don't live near Huron Hills and I don't play golf, but I do like the view when I drive by and when I walk along the river. I vote for park millages to protect and maintain the parks we have. I do not vote for those millages to provide Miles of Golf with a low cost alternative to their present (really awful looking) operation!

Bill Sloan

Sat, Dec 4, 2010 : 8:19 a.m.

There's something conspicuously absent from these and other discussions -- aesthetics. The Miles proposal sounds intriguing, but must include a commitment to making the development an aesthetic gem in all respects. I can envision a prairie style Usonian complex that would blend well with the river and the land, and would be a welcome addition to Ann Arbor architecture. While I personally enjoy seeing golfers practicing, a driving range certainly doesn't have to look like a typical driving range with chain link fences and big green screens. There already exists a line of mature pines on the east side of Huron River Drive that could be incorporated into an aesthetically sound design. I would hope that aesthetic considerations get equal time in plans for the future of Huron Hills. Given the recent courts building abomination, and the apparent front running " white box on top of a box" for the library lot, aesthetic decisions for Huron Hills should made by a group of artists and architects rather than City Council. I have played Huron Hills several times, and usually play the back nine -- twice. It is very a beautiful layout, which is the main reason why many of us recreational golfers are attracted to the game. To have such a course so close to the city is a tremendous recreational asset. I'm sure that it wouldn't be too difficult or expensive to reconfigure the course to make #8 into #1, and use the gained space to create a couple more par 4's and 5's, which would improve the course and make it more attractive to better golfers as well. A inexpensive prefabricated ramp over Huron River Drive for carts and walkers would also be a welcome addition for both golfers and divers. Miles proposal could be a positive addition to the Ann Arbor recreational and aesthetic scene -- if it's done well.


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 1:14 p.m.

Miles of Golf is asking the City to put up $3 million to build an 11,000 square foot golf strip mall. Do you want your tax dollars going to that DagnyJ??


Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 9:08 a.m.

Renting to Miles of Golf is for the public benefit. My guess is there would be a lot more use of the property and the other side would still be available for 9 holes of golf. I don't understand why people are against this. We have to decide what resources are available and how we want to use them. Right now, property owners are really struggling and Ann Arbor has a huge tax burden. We pay 15 mils over Scio Township which has no parks. No need. Simply drive to Ann Arbor and use them for free!

Stupid Hick

Mon, Nov 29, 2010 : 11:33 p.m.

I think some comments here are a bit off the mark. Huron Hills is nobody's "private yard". It's been a golf course for nearly 100 years, before most of the houses in the neighborhood were even built. Dagny and Racer question the motives of those who would preserve Huron Hills as a public asset? All the signs on yards near the course are evidence of a crass ploy to steal your tax dollars for the neighbors' private benefit? Well, I believe you have it completely backwards, but thanks for showing everyone how you think. I don't live near Huron Hills, nor am I connected (yet) to the a2p2parks group, but I'm grateful for their efforts to keep the park intact. I don't know Ann Schriber, but having read her previous letters about Huron Hills, I recall she doesn't live in the neighborhood surrounding the course either, and doesn't even golf. Thank you, Ann. Those of you who think the city should stop supporting the golf course, as it has done for generations, unless it makes a profit, do you feel the same about other recreational activities the city supports? Should the pools, ballparks, and libraries be given up if they don't make a profit? None of them do. And in my opinion that's how it should be: operated for the public benefit, not profit.


Mon, Nov 29, 2010 : 2:14 a.m.

Well, this now explains those signs along Huron River Dr! The audacity of these homeowners who would like us to continue to subsidize their lifestyle for a money losing entity. One that has been losing money for decades! Get rid of it. Sell it to Miles of Golf, or to anyone who will now pay property taxes.


Sun, Nov 28, 2010 : 11:20 p.m.

I sometimes wonder about the people and council members who are sooo in favour of mass development for the city of Ann Arbor. Okay, change happens. It CAN be better than imagined. Our ole A2 might just be THE rockin' U.S. metropolis in the next 20 years. Grand art and led lights everywhere. Just imagine. Big shots zipping into the City Gateway from Chicago. On the hyper-train for some 9-hole at Miles' before doing lunch back at Zingermans. High rollers jetting into A-square Airport from Wall Street for the Broker's Convention Downtown. Followed up by a quick snack at Zingermans before heading over to the Governor's ball. Your high income tax possibilities are endless. The point is that this is your home. Whatever happens here stays here. Change comes for the better or worse. And Frankly my dear, I don't care. I can still move. But - when there are fewer options like moving on to the next little refuge to get away - Dexter, Saline, Chelsea, Whitmore Lake - then do you really want to be stuck in THE "supurbanized" Ann Arbor? Consider for a moment that our world population actually shrinks in the next 20 years. War in the East, crane flu. Change happens, remember? It can be for the worse, too. Imagine. vacant highrise buildings downtown. the jobless panhandling everywhere. Fuller Park and its quarantine pens laying fallow below a shuttered hospital and empty gateway parking lot. The Huron Hills shooting range, protecting the only reliable power source leading up to the VA. If this were your town, your kingdom, your only place in the whole world to live, what would you really, really want it to be like for you - regardless of the change that will come? Then so be it.


Sun, Nov 28, 2010 : 8:25 p.m.

I read what the people from Miles of Golf had to say and I think it sounds like a good idea to rent to them. Put the land to use. It will still be there with very few changes. As times change, the city needs to change too. The golf course is no longer viable in the present form. Let's do something else with the land. I am for Miles of Golf.

The Watchman

Sun, Nov 28, 2010 : 12:56 p.m.

Let's move the recycling center to the golf course (parkland) so the NY company can have good views of the Huron River. Then the site can lose 1 million dollars a year? The golf course is not sustainable as is. Something has to be done. We need to look at alternatives for revenue as the tax base can no longer afford the some perks in the city.

Alan Benard

Sun, Nov 28, 2010 : 11:56 a.m.

What is the city's option if there is no way to make the golf course revenue-neutral? To close it. The idea floated to run it as a non-profit does not address the fact that it cannot operate without subsidy -- the basic operating expenses are not being met. This is not parkland, it is a developed business. Whether or not the city should run it is moot -- it's getting out of the business, what's done is done. How long do you think the city will hold onto this property once its business purpose ends? Then you'll see how it gets developed. You'll like that even less. The bottom line: In a city dotted with foreclosed residences, with high unemployment, declining property tax revenues, we find it hard to get excited about your NIMBY cause.


Sun, Nov 28, 2010 : 11:25 a.m.

How horrible that wealthy residents near the golf course might have their private yard (paid for by all taxpayers) changed. My heart bleeds. If you want the golf course (ie. it's not a park) then how about you band together and buy it yourselves instead of asking me to help pay for it?

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Nov 28, 2010 : 10:12 a.m.

It sure reads better when you substitute "the golf course" with "the park land" and "the park".


Sun, Nov 28, 2010 : 10:05 a.m.

build complexes on ALL golf courses.Get rid of them.Do It NOW