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Posted on Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

Split decision: Sidewalk gap program rejected by Ann Arbor City Council in 6-5 vote

By Ryan J. Stanton

In a split 6-5 vote, the Ann Arbor City Council decided Monday night against directing staff to develop a five-year program to address "sidewalk gaps" throughout the city.

The defeated resolution was brought forward by Council Members Mike Anglin and Sabra Briere, who argued there are many city streets that have no sidewalks, requiring pedestrians to use the streets to get to and from their destinations, including bus stops.

"The lack of sidewalks is a greater hardship for the elderly, children and persons with disabilities," they argued in their resolution. "Many students walk along or in streets with no sidewalks, and in the winter months, secondary school students are walking to school and to bus stops in the dark."

They further argued that because the Ann Arbor Public Schools has reduced bus services, there's an increased number of students walking to school.


Mike Anglin


Sabra Briere

They also said vehicles parked along the curb are causing pedestrians to walk in the middle of traffic lanes, and filling sidewalk gaps would increase safety and encourage more residents to walk or use the bus.

Following a lengthy debate, Anglin and Briere were able to muster support from only three council members: Margie Teall, Christopher Taylor and Jane Lumm.

Mayor John Hieftje and five other council members joined forces to defeat the resolution, which, as amended, would have directed staff to come back next September with a plan to fill sidewalk gaps over five years. It asked staff to engage the public and give priority to school walk zones.

"It sounds great. It's a good effort, but I can't support it right now," said Council Member Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, raising concerns about the ability to fund such a program.

Ann Arbor voters last year approved a new sidewalk millage that's raising more than $560,000 a year for sidewalk repairs.

The first year's work has consisted of repairing deficient sidewalks in 20 percent of the city, with the goal of performing maintenance on the entire sidewalk system over five years. Not included in that effort is a comprehensive program of filling sidewalk gaps.

The city's non-motorized transportation plan from 2007 calls for filling identified sidewalk gaps.

"The plan identifies over 75 missing segments along the major roadways," the plan reads. "These areas are confronted with a number of challenges that have prevented sidewalks from being constructed. Steep grades, e.g., hills and ditches or swales, as well as vegetation, including trees and shrubs are often times found where a sidewalk gap exists."

It continues: "Although the plan defines the gaps and recommends they be filled, staff has to define the improvement and develop projects for the construction of the sidewalks."

Council Member Carsten Hohnke, D-5th Ward, said council members need to recognize that sidewalk gaps aren't the only mobility issue in Ann Arbor.

"There are a number of places where we need to have pedestrian islands, where we need mid-block crosswalks, where we need extension of bike paths," he said.

He said all of those are important for pedestrian safety and he didn't see a clear reason to elevate sidewalk gaps as a higher priority.

"If we look at all of that together, it would suggest the development of a non-motorized transportation plan. And in fact, we have that," he said. "I haven't been convinced that we're not going to be addressing the first-priority sidewalk gaps already with our non-motorized transportation plan."

Joining Hohnke, Hieftje and Kunselman in defeating the resolution were Council Members Marcia Higgins, Sandi Smith and Tony Derezinski.

Derezinski raised legal concerns about the resolution.

"Especially in some of the whereas clauses, it gives me some concern that we are saying that we know about all these dangerous conditions," he said. "And I'm curious as to whether there have been any people harmed. There's a recitation of people having to walk in the street, particularly with regard to schools and things like that. This is a potential legal issue."

Briere said there's a committee of school staff, city staff and Ann Arbor Transportation Authority staff already meeting to talk about how to get students safely to school using a variety of methods, including filling sidewalk gaps. She said it would strengthen the city's position to actually pass a resolution that helps staff decide whether that's a priority for the city.

"From my point of view, having talked about this with staff for the last five years, I'd really like to see it become a priority," she said.

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, Sep 19, 2012 : 11:18 a.m.

I am so weary of the comfort we afforded our inmates. What is the deterrent to crime with winter approaching? Warm bed, foof over head, 3 meals, workout area, library, lawyers... I'm for the 'chain gang' version where inmates must pay back to society, and right now we can use a lot of labor repairing roads and sidewalks. Paid workers would need to be involved, but the cost would be much less and Michigan roads and sidewalks are a joke! Also, discouraging criminal activity needs to take a huge leap forward as we have too many repeaters looking at the comforts we will provide at no cost to them.


Wed, Sep 19, 2012 : 12:12 a.m.

I like the rural feel of a residential area with no sidewalks. I don't see a safety issue unless a driver or pedestrian is blatenly negligent. In fact it seems more people are killed and injured as a result of the false sense of security provided by crosswalks and signals. Not having to pay a sidewalk assessment or shovel snow is a big plus. I'm with the "nay" vote.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 10:04 p.m.

It's interesting, three years ago I was told to spend $700 fixing the sidewalks in front of my house. Now, a notice appears on my door saying the city is going to fix another couple of blocks in front of my house. Then I read this piece that the council does not want to fill in the gaps. I think the gaps need to be addressed before redoing my recently redone sidewalks. There are two houses on Arborview and Doty that don't have sidewalks as they were township islands. I see people walking and pushing strollers who have to walk in the street if they want to walk south on Doty. They have to dodge cars turning south onto Doty because of this.


Wed, Sep 19, 2012 : 10 a.m.

The millage passed by Ann Arbor citizens specifically states it is for sidewalk repair, not new sidewalks. It can't legally be used for sidewalk gaps. That leaves only the current policy of bill the adjacent property owner, supplemented by federal grants.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

If the issue of sidewalk gaps are already part of the non-motorized transportation plan, why do we need yet another study just for sidewalk gaps? In fact, it seems more logical to have sidewalk gaps be considered along side other transportation issues. I also think that the city holds itself out for potential liability if it "identifies" problem areas and then does not have the funds to fix it. Fact is, developers choose to be cheap and eliminated sidewalks in certain neighborhoods to save money. Homeowners in those neighborhoods pay less for homes without sidewalks. Homeowners will be the one to pay in the end, as they should be, and that's a tough political sell.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

Heartfelt thanks to council members Anglin, Briere, Lumm, Taylor and Teall.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

The 'no' vote of the 6 council members is very short-sighted -- especially in view of the fact that Ann Arbor theoretically promotes walking as an alternative to driving. In my neighborhood there are a number of long sidewalk gaps, and I have witnessed some close calls. Not too long ago the mayor boasted that Ann Arbor had been selected as one of the country's "most walk-able cities". The council's defeat of this sensible proposal suggests that this designation should be withdrawn. I hope this issue will come up again and that a strategy for addressing the sidewalk gaps be developed.

Stephen Landes

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

The 1% for Public Art ordinance would likely require sidewalk-related public art. What could this be? Maybe creative people could put their hand prints in the fresh cement. Of course in "tough" neighborhoods this might become performance art if, in the words of Rodney Dangerfield, as you put your hands in the cement you felt hands pushing back. Video tape the reactions and show them at the next Michigan Theater film festival -- there has to be an award in there somewhere.

Kevin McGuinness

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

It is nice to see that two of the council members voting against this proposal are leaving office. Calming Islands like the one a Washington and Seventh are more important than children walking to school in the streets?? The calm island should be removed , it is a nuisance and does not provide any thing additional to the crosswalk and signs already there. Is the city anymore libel for saying they are voting down the proposal so they will not be libel than if they actual did investigate what could be done. Good bye Tony, you will not be missed.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 5:39 p.m.

Just because there is a sidewalk gap does not necessarily mean a sidewalk is needed in the particular spot. There a many locations where common sense must rule over the missing sidewalk. Unfortunately in this city common sense usually does not prevail.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

Mayor Hieftje just told me the main reason he voted against directing city staff to come up with a five-year sidewalk gap program is because there's an equity issue he doesn't see a way to solve. "For all the decades, people have had to pay for the sidewalk, they have been assessed for the sidewalk, and I just don't see how you solve that all of a sudden and go ahead and start paying for it," he said. "That would really open up a lot of problems."


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.

Newport Rd. needs a sidewalk from Wines school to the Riverwood sub entrance. This small improvement (2 houses and a church) would connect everyone on both sides of M14 for recreation use w/river and Bird Hills, Skyline, Forsythe and Wines. It would be a major improvement for the entire area.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

those problems being . . . Please Ryan, elaborate


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 6:32 p.m.

Why didn't the mayor just post that himself then?

Katherine Griswold

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

That is exactly what we did when we passed the sidewalk repair millage! I paid to repair my sidewalk a couple of years ago, then I voted for the millage so the City would repair my sidewalk in the future.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

Sure, filling in the gaps sounds great. However, the existing sidwalks are going to talk major dollars and five years to get them fixed. Unless you have a money tree handy, keep your hands out of my pockets, things have to be done as priorities and money permits, this is common sense. Just because something sounds good does not mean it is practical to immediately do. Reality check time.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

I agree with adding sidewalks where there are none. I have wondered how students or others walk to the Skyline high school on North Maple. There are other places that need sidewalks. I hope this program is re-introduced after the election changes.

Albert Howard

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 3:48 p.m.

Mayor John Hieftje has gravely underestimated the power of public opinion.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.

So, I was under the impression that the city does have a plan for addressing sidewalk gaps (i.e. places with no sidewalk). They decide they want to do it (which is maybe the big question) and then, after an act of council, bill the adjoining property owners for the cost. This is different from the recent millage, which only covers repair, not new installation. For example, the current reconstruction on Dexter is addressing several sidewalk gaps west of Doty. I remember reading articles about the council approving billing those improvements to the adjacent property owners, as is normal practice. In some sense, it's fair to the property owners, as each property has paid for its sidewalks at the time they were put in. Moreover, the current owner could see there was no sidewalk when they moved in, so they had to know it was a possibility down the line. What might be unfair is that the city may typically only bill part of the new installation costs to the adjacent property owners and pay for the rest with federal grants. If we were to embark on a massive sidewalk building spree to address the gaps, that probably would exceed the ability of grants to cover part of the costs, making it relatively expensive for adjoining property owners.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

Ed Vielmetti pointed out last night the council's been talking about new sidewalks for years


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

I'm rather surprised there isn't a bunch of arbitrary moderation of the comments on this article considering the number of comments critical of the city council and mayor...


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Let's save the money for public art and these types of projects. Let the disabled, elderly, etc. navigate the pathetic sidewalks. Nothing that Hieftje does is in the interests of common sense. Until we eliminate the City Council and the mayor's office of such shallow thinkers, Ann Arbor will look good only to the outsiders looking in from far away. Those of us who live here know the ugliness of Ann Arbor looking at it from the inside.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

A monorail plan is a higher priority than a sidewalk plan. How can this possibly be?

Stephen Landes

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

It's a higher priority because it is up in the air -- high up.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

It's a "higher" priority because you'd need to be high to come to that conclusion.

Amanda Zee

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

Derezinski raised legal concerns about the resolution. "Especially in some of the whereas clauses, it gives me some concern that we are saying that we know about all these dangerous conditions," he said. "And I'm curious as to whether there have been any people harmed. There's a recitation of people having to walk in the street, particularly with regard to schools and things like that. This is a potential legal issue." *** So just pretend we didn't know about it, and that makes it okay not to even address it? Seriously?

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

I remember when the local government and the railroad folks refused to put up a signal at a really dangerous crossing in their area. The local residents even offered to pay for the signal. Nope. No can do. That is, until a family of five (5) was obliterated at that railroad crossing. Amazingly, they had a signal there post haste, even including barrier boards that dropped down to stop people from running through. Is this what A2 has in mind? Is there a required body count that will make this worth looking into?


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

How about simply asking the public to report these "gaps," then compiling the results to form a list? No funding needed, and will likely produce a more accurate list than any study could.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

I thought of this, too, but I think it would bias the list in favor of those who read, and on a consistent basis (so they didn't miss the announcement). This group might or might not be representative of the cit as a whole, and might not even cover the whole area.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

What? No retreat for establishing the Task Force that would put out an RFQ for a consultant to assemble a focus group to look into the situation? You obviously don't understand government very well.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

Didn;t City Coucil recently boast that they were already well accomplished in providing the basic services for their public? Roads are the territory for vehicles. Sidewalks are the realm of the pedestrian - their "safe zone". Inbetween the road and sidewalk stands the historic wall of negotiated self-preservation. Cars do not enter the sidewalk realm without considering pedestrians. Pedestrians do not leave their safe zone and encroach the roadway without making sure it is practical to do so. The failure of the Ann Arbor crosswalk law stems from the misguided notion of City Council that they can simply warp the historic wall as they may wish with their bubble stick - make the sidewalk part of the road realm and then dump enormous responsibility into the driver's lap to account for pedestrian activity outside of their familiar territory. Pedestrians no longer need to be aware and poof goes the common sense wall causing accidents like the one on Washtenaw. The City Council is clearly liable for that and should clean up their basic "historic wall" service to preserve whatever future budget remains.. And what is the update announcement for the victim of bubblestickland?

Dog Guy

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

Many elderly people with disabilities love their street without sidewalks and considered it a reason to buy there. Installing sidewalks for them to shovel in winter could soon rid our fair city of these old coots and gain it a place on a youth-friendly top-ten list.

Jim Osborn

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 3:58 p.m.

I dislike most Ann Arbor taxes, the art tax most of all, but there are 2 taxes that I'd gladly pay: 1) fall leaf collection and 2) city sidewalk snow removal. Imagine an ATV going down the sidewalk at 10 MPH with a broom device such as what UM uses and the whole block is done in 1 minute. This is economies of scale, it is much more efficient than an independent contractor going to different homes that are separated by distances. These contractors could even work for the city. If It raised my taxes by $20 or $30 a year, Wonderful


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

I don't think readers recognize your tongue-in -cheek comment! Most readers know you can't be serious!

David Cahill

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

Derezinski seems to think that if the City Council didn't pass the resolution it could somehow dodge liability for accidents. He subscribes to the "I see nothing" theory. Truly bizarre! Hohnke, Derezinski and Smith will join the "dearly departed" in late November.

Tom Wieder

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

There's good news and bad news in how this vote came out, which didn't follow the usual lines. Taylor didn't vote with the Mayor, but Kunselman did. The latter is very disappointing. Two months from now, 3 of the 6 "nay" votes - Hohnke, Smith and Derezinski will be gone, so this effort should be repeated. On the substantive level, it is amazing that a majority of Council would oppose merely developing a program to move forward an element of the non-motorized transportation plan that has already been adopted. That plans calls for filling sidewalk gaps; this proposal directs staff to start giving real substance to the plan. It doesn't lock the City into any specific timetable or budget. The City has found money for consultants to promote a conference center few wanted, to erect extravagant signage in the downtown, to fund public art, but it won't commit some staff time to improve the sidewalk system?


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

This just adds to my belief that when the mayor says he wants a community that is appealing to pedestrians, he is just blowing smoke. All he cares about is his own agenda - making biking easier for bicyclists. Guaranteed that once he gets the bikes off the sidewalks he will then say that the streets downtown need to be adjusted for biking lanes. Why? Because bicycles are no longer allowed on the sidewalk. I really wish we could find someone to replace the current mayor - someone who actually has concerns about crime, graffiti, economic growth...... and is willing to do something about these things.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

Don't forget that 1% for art applies to everything. If we got rid of the art we could do lots of things we really need.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

We have "GREEN" earth saving street lights, We have land that cannot be developed because it is a Green Belt, We have Downtown property waiting to be developed worth millions of dollars, We have plans for the new "Hieftje" Transportation center but we do not have any money for side walks to save people's lives? What are the city council's priorities?


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

@xmo "What are the city council's priorities?" Certainly not the priorities of the citizens.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

They can fund hundreds of thousands of dollars for art projects in city hall but they are not concerned about children walking in the streets. I am tired of all of these political clowns in Ann Arbor.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

Still got money for Art projects!!!!!


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

My bad

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 4:05 p.m.

"Art" in quotation marks, please.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

We won't need so many sidewalks once the mayor boots the bicyclists from them. Plus, what do you people want - sidewalks or a Tomorrowland monorail? Show a little vision, eh?


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

Tomorrowland of course!

laura wolf

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

alot of people seem not to know that it is perfectly legal to walk on the grassy area beside the roadway whether it is paved (sidewalk) or not. on most streets without side walks there is plenty of room and considerate people keep it mowed and walkable. of course there are some people who do not and some who deliberately make you walk in the street. a low cost alternative to adding paved sidewalks everywhere would be a simple ordinance to require that people keep a walkable path in the right of way when no paved sidewalk is present. landscaping is just as scenic when i don't have to walk in the street to avoid it.

laura wolf

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

one- you can shovel grass just like you can shovel concrete. having paving does not make people comply with snow removal. two - it is a little more difficult to push a stroller, ride a bike or use a walker on grass, but people go all over grassy parks all the time. most children have no trouble walking on grass. three- yes some times there is mud. its the outdoors, there's plants, dirt, water, and it may touch you. why is a simple, low cost partial measure objectionable? it's expensive to fill all the gaps and it would take many years even with a plan in place. i would like to be able to walk without walking in the street sometime in my lifetime.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

..And the mud in Spring.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

And the wheel chairs, and the people with strollers or walkers...

Frank Lee

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

And then the snow came.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

I guess ADA (Americans Disability Act) does not apply to the City. Their are many attorneys in the US that could easily make this change for a nominal fee.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

it absolutely does apply, and that's part of the reason why the sidewalk repair program exists: however, I don't think that the ADA has any language about requiring that sidewalk gaps be filled - it's very tricky, you see


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

Perhaps the voting bloc that is holding up progress like this will be weakened in the upcoming election.

average joe

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.

I have an idea- How about the mayor & his council voting pact worry about having sidewalks throughout HIS city, before worrying if someone from Manchester or Chelsea can get a bus ride to downtown by backing the county wide transit proposal.

Karen Hart

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

I think it is shameful that we have so many sidewalk gaps in a city where literally millions are spent on roads and other transportation needs. If there isn't even a list or map of these gaps, they'll never be addressed (out of sight, out of mind). That's the same kind of thinking that prevented addressing the old Parks HQ building on West Washington for literally decades: it wasn't put into the capital improvements plan, only because there was no money to fix it. Finally, Planning staff convinced other departments to put it in to draw attention to the need, and eventually we got the Wheeler Center. If the City doesn't rethink its approach to this important capital need, maybe it's time for the Center for Independent Living to step up once again and force it.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

"Ann Arbor voters last year approved a new sidewalk millage that's raising more than $560,000 a year for sidewalk repairs." Wait what? So why did you bill my grandmother THOUSANDS of dollars to repair public sidewalk tiles in front of her house? No really.....why did you bill her if there's a fund to pay for this? In fact, everyone I know who's had public sidewalk work done was always billed for it.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

yeah, the neighbors and I were required by the city to replace many slabs in front of our houses, two weeks after the guy on the corner did the ones at the crosswalk the city came out and redid them to grade them. Then a few weeks ago they came out and cut many of the new slabs, giving them an ugly edge and REDID the crosswalk for a second time to inlay that rubber matting. I say, how did we EVER manage to live so long without "perfect" sidewalks? It's a wonder I was able to walk to school, rollerskate, ride my bike, walk the dog, jog and make it into adulthood.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

On top of that M-Wolverine, there is no program to mitigate the cause of uneven sidewalks! TREE ROOTS!!!


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

And does anyone trust the city with handling the funds for these gaps in a prudent way, when after getting that money for sidewalk repairs they didn't bother to repair most sidewalks, simply sanding the edges down in an unsightly way, and one that often creates bigger ridges to the pathway than the uneven sidewalks did in the first place? It looks awful, cheap, and probably creates a hazard. But I bet the money they're saving they're finding a way to spend somehow. And I'm guessing anyone who had to replace their own slabs the last number of years weren't permitted to sand the uneven edges off, but were required to replace it wholesale.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

Ok so basically this is BRAND NEW and we've never had something like this before. I'm ok with it though....THIS is the kind of millage we need. THIS is a good millage. What I'm not understanding is the council refusing to spend money set aside to work on sidewalks.....on sidewalks. I understand there are logistics in it all because there is a finite amount of funding...BUT THIS IS WHY YOU GET THE BALL ROLLING WITH CONTRACTORS.... I have to continually ask "What is going on with our city council???"


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

The legislation passed after the city forced residents to repair sidewalks adjacent to their property. There was nothing in the legislation for property owners who had already replaced or repaired sidewalks prior to the new legislation. Now you have some residents who already paid for sidewalks that are now paying into a fund to help other residents repair or replace their damaged sidewalks. The new legislation was passed by a vote of residents.

Tony Livingston

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 11:35 a.m.

The sidewalk gap is ridiculous in a city like Ann Arbor. When we had kids we moved. I could not imagine pushing strollers and teaching kids to ride their bikes down the middle of the street! Cities continually need to attract young families and that requires sidewalks. This should have been a priority years ago.

Bob W

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

Makes more sense than $65 million for a new library.

Jim Osborn

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

Or, all of the mayor's painted bike diagrams on car lanes

Katherine Griswold

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

"Mayor John Hieftje and five other council members joined forces to defeat the resolution, which, as amended, would have directed staff to come back next September with a plan to fill sidewalk gaps over five years. It asked staff to engage the public and give priority to school walk zones." Some families do not have the resources to drive their children to school, thus hundreds of children walk on streets without sidewalks in the "school walk zones" and to consolidated neighborhood bus stops. Many children are walking in traffic lanes before dawn on residential streets with vehicles parked at the curb. The council vote was not for funding, just to identify these gaps (in addition to the 75 on major roads). Last month, I asked City staff for the listing of needed residential sidewalks in the Non-motorized Transportation Plan, as the information was not online. I was told staff no longer maintains a listing because there are no funds. Council cannot consider funding a program that is not defined and last night Council voted against having staff develop a program -- the first step in solving a very dangerous problem. Unfortunately, Council has funds for future alternative transportation, but refuses to consider the current needs of our children. Thanks to Mike Anglin and Sabra Briere for supporting this resolution, and to Jane Lumm, Margie Teall and Chris Taylor for their support.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 11:02 a.m.

Why doesn't staff already have a sidewalk gap plan in place??? Sidewalk gap projects should have gone into the capital improvements plan back in 2007 for implementation starting about now. The problem with sidewalk gaps though is that they are supposed to be funded by a special assessment, either of the adjacent property owner or as an assessment district. We do the same thing with streets - always have, for both sidewalks and streets. That means it requires coordination with the adjacent land owners, and some time for the owners to either sue to try to stop it or make arrangements to pay. We generally aren't supposed to use existing city funds for that, though they could certainly pick up part of the cost, give the public benefit.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 10:51 a.m.

Council Member Carsten Hohnke, D-5th Ward, said council members need to recognize that sidewalk gaps aren't the only mobility issue in Ann Arbor. "There are a number of places where we need to have pedestrian islands, where we need mid-block crosswalks, where we need extension of bike paths," Let kids walk in the street.BUT put in more crosswalks and bike paths? These puppets for the Mayor belong in a circus side show!


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.



Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 10:39 a.m.

If you close down DDA, there will be plenty of funds to provide these needed sidewalks.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 10:37 a.m.

The city does need a plan for a comprehensive program of filling sidewalk gaps. I've observed that this is a major problem throughout the city. Whether or not the money is available today, having a plan allows us to begin the process of prioritizing what needs to be done and when, and how much is urgent, or not urgent. With a plan in hand, the city can apply for grants for the most urgent priorities it cannot afford. If our city is more walkable and bikable, data shows we will have a higher quality of life, and be healthier. I really cannot understand the Mayor's vote against this reasonable proposal.


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

I totally agree!


Tue, Sep 18, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

If there are sidewalk gaps, the expense for filling this in should be with the owner of the property. There is a difference between the city maintaining a sidewalk and the city installing a sidewalk. The majority of us paid the initial expense of a sidewalk in front of our residence, whether when we built, or when one purchased the already existing building where the purchase price included the already paid for sidewalk. Those who never paid for a sidewalk should be required to fund it themselves, and it won't cost the city any funds.