Should Ann Arbor spend $550K for next phase of work on new Amtrak train station?
Photo courtesy of city of Ann Arbor
The resolution, which is being co-sponsored by four council members, also outlines a process for putting the question of a new Amtrak station on a future election ballot. But before voters get to have a say, the city would continue spending money on the project.
The $550,000 is needed as a local match for a $2.8 million federal grant the city received to study building a new train station somewhere in Ann Arbor. The city's preferred site is along Fuller Road on the footprint of a surface parking lot in front of the University of Michigan Hospital.
The city's 2012-13 budget already included $307,781 as a local match for the $2.8 million federal grant. The $307,781 was for items the city thought would serve as a local match, but city officials are now learning they will not serve as a match, so the $550,000 is on top of the budgeted amount.
The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded the city a $2.8 million high-speed rail grant for conceptual planning, environmental documentation and preliminary engineering related to what's being called Ann Arbor Station. The completion of those tasks will allow for future final design and construction of an improved intercity passenger rail station in Ann Arbor.
Council Member Christopher Taylor, D-3rd Ward, said he has reasonable confidence the resolution will win approval.
He's sponsoring it along with Mayor John Hieftje and Council Members Sabra Briere and Marcia Higgins. With support from Council Members Sandi Smith, Carsten Hohnke, Margie Teall and Tony Derezinski — four other allies of the mayor — it would have the eight votes needed.
The resolution would direct the city administrator to seek alternative funding for $300,000 of the $550,000 local match from other eligible local partners — such as the University of Michigan or the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority — that might be interested in sharing the cost.
AATA CEO Michael Ford told AnnArbor.com last week his agency is not in a financial position to contribute to the Ann Arbor Station project, and U-M spokesman Jim Kosteva said he wasn't aware of any conversations between the university and the city on the matter.
Downtown Development Authority Director Susan Pollay also said this past week that to her knowledge no one at the DDA had been contacted about it, either.
Hieftje detailed his vision for funding a new train station earlier this year, painting a hypothetical scenario where Ann Arbor could get a new $30 million train station and the city's share of the cost would be less than $3 million.
Monday's meeting starts at 7 p.m. on the second floor of city hall, which is at the corner of Huron and Fifth Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor.
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.