Official: Ypsilanti Water Street Recreation Center may take longer than hoped
Progress on a proposed Water Street Recreation Center is going to be slower than anticipated.
That’s according to Bob Tetens, director for the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation, following several meetings with Ypsilanti city staff and a regular meeting with the parks and recreation commissioners.
Parks and Recreation is proposing the about $10 million to $15 million development be built on a 12-acre parcel in the property’s northwest corner. It’s the closest parcel to downtown and is bordered on two sides by the Huron River and Michigan Avenue.
But council members all said in a work session that they would prefer to see the center on the east side of the 36-acre Water Street site and taking up less of a footprint.
The center wouldn’t contribute to the city’s tax rolls because it's county-owned, and council members are concerned because they have to pay down $30 million in bond debt on the property through 2031. That means up to $1.3 million in annual payments.
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Tetens said he met with city staff twice last week and reported council’s wishes to the Parks and Recreation Board of Commissioners during a Tuesday night meeting. He said there were no negative reactions.
“It may take us a lot longer than we had hoped,” said Tetens, who initially asked council to try to approve the proposal in January. “The commissioners understand that (council) has been talking and everyone is entitled to their own opinion on when and where the center should go, so we’re continuing at a staff level.”
Prior to the commissioners Tuesday meeting, Tetens said the center needs to be adjacent to the river and road, as well as close to downtown. Parks and Recreation would not be able to accomplish some of its objectives on the other side or at the back of the property, he said.
“The advantages to the Water Street site go beyond recreation and promoting a healthy, fit lifestyle,” he said. “it’s also about redevelopment and economic development, and that’s the best part of (the site).
The Border to Border Trail is planned to run next to the river, and Tetens said the vision is to have a spot where people congregate at a point connecting all the linear parks and space. The development would be the center of a network of parks the commission is working on to link on the eastern side of Washtenaw County.
Preliminary drawings presented to council called for a parcel about 400 feet from east to west and 1,200 feet from north to south. A small park and greenspace wrapping around a two-story, 65,000-square-foot building would sit on the site’s north quarter closest to downtown.
A 250-space parking lot would occupy the quarter of the property directly south of the building. A trailhead to the Border to Border tail would be further south, and plans called for a park, some playground equipment and more greenspace on the southern end of the site where the river bends to the east.
Indoors, the building would include a pool, gym, track, fitness equipment and weights among other amenities. The center would utilize Border to Border Trail and riverfront for outdoor recreational activities such as canoeing.
Tetens said he also reported to the board that the city would like the county to build infrastructure. He said he couldn’t estimate what the county would contribute to developing infrastructure because it’s still too early in the process.
“We understand we would have to provide access to our site,” Tetens said. “We can’t do it without a road, a sewer line or electricity.”
No further meetings between staff members are yet planned.
“This is a big deal, so I understand why they’re taking their time,” Tetens said. “They’re asking questions, we’re answering the questions, and it would be foolish for either one of us to rush into this.”