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Posted on Mon, May 13, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ypsilanti reaffirms support of proposed $12 million Eastside Recreation Center

By Katrease Stafford


The location of the proposed $12 million recreation center, pictured here, will stay the same after city officials publicly reaffirmed their support of the project.

Courtesy Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation

Officials have said the proposed $12 million Eastside Recreation Center will move forward as planned on the Water Street site, despite recent discussions to possibly move the location further back on the property or to a completely different location in the city.

"City staff have gotten a very strong negative reaction to the process," said City Manager Ralph Lange last week during a meeting. "In addition to this, we have literally another million hanging on a string which is the border-to-border trail... We’re in full support of this project and the border-to-border to trail."

The statement of support follows ideas discussed during the city's master plan process, in which planning consultants suggested potentially moving the recreation center development farther back on the Water Street property, near the Waterworks Park area.

One of the ideas being proposed is conforming the site to a grid structure and running River Street through the property to Factory Street.

"There was some confusion because of the master planning process as to what that meant to our project and frankly, a lot of things were in jeopardy," said Bob Tetens, the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation director. "But that’s been reaffirmed with city council and in meetings we had over the past week with city council. We're still moving forward."

Tetens told at the end of April the county wasn't interested in moving the location from the agreed upon northwest corner of the 38-acre site, adjacent to the Huron River and Michigan Avenue.

Lange said he's since met with Washtenaw County commissioners, Tetens and other people critical to the the trail and easement Fischer Honda dealership owner Rick Fischer agreed to. The county met on March 12 and approved funding in the amount of $31,500 to cover the costs.

The easement will allow the city access to a piece of the dealership's property.

The city would like for the bridge to cross from Riverside Park to a corner of the Fischer Honda dealership parcel on the east side of the Huron River. "I can say that unless council votes to change Resolution 2013-037, the council’s position has not changed as a result of those charrettes and that continues to be our position so that we can move these projects forward to the tune of a $10 to $15 million investment in our community," Lange said.


The proposed recreation center would be located at the northwest corner of the Water Street site.

Katrease Stafford |

Council unanimously approved a resolution in February, reaffirming their support of the proposed project.

Tuesday, council member Pete Murdock proposed re-examining the letter of support that council approved in 2012, to decide whether it was something council was still interested in.

"(I want to) put this up for a vote again and put to rest that we’re not interested," Murdock said. "Because if we’re not interested in moving forward at that site, we should tell them... There were some people quoted saying that the site wasn’t right and the site was undetermined. It made Commissioner (Rolland) Sizemore really upset.That is why I brought this resolution. It’s a way of reaffirming our commitment based on the original letter of intent."

Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber previously told that he hadn't made up his mind yet on where the recreation center should go.

Now, Schreiber said he is in full support of the center being located on the northwest corner of the property. Schreiber met with Parks and Recreation Chair Robert Marans earlier this week to discuss the location.

"We have a proposal on the table that is for the northwest corner of the property and I told Mr. Marans that I think it should be where we signed the letter of the intent," Schreiber said. "Only thing I said was that I would like to see it try to emulate the grid structure that’s been discussed and Mr. Marans actually agreed."

Once Schreiber said he supported the recreation center, Murdock withdrew his plan to submit a resolution re-examining the letter of intent.

"I just wanted to get it out there that we’re still committed to working with them on the site," Murdock said.

The county first approached the city in late 2011 and proposed a project partnership where the city would provide the land necessary for the project, between eight to ten acres, and the county would construct and own the community recreation center.

The Ann Arbor YMCA is expected to oversee the day-to-day operations.

The city approved an initial letter of intent to proceed with work towards the development of the center on Jan. 10, 2012.

Construction is expected to begin in 2015, after the commission’s 10-year millage expires in 2014 and is renewed.

The center would be nearly 60,000 square feet and would be much like the Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center that opened in 1991. The center would be equipped with a swimming pool along with various aquatics, a locker room, gym, fitness facility and other amenities. The center also would offer classes.

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.


Steve Pierce

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 4:01 a.m.

Brilliant, the one piece of land most likely to be sold for commercial development and thus generate the most tax dollars to pay for the $30 million Water Street boondoggle, the city plans to give the land away. Land the City paid over $8 million, they are giving it to a non-tax-paying group. And Mr Clock needs to get his cleaned. His justification for the location of the Rec Center is it is already in the flood plain. Clock argues the land is worth less. Then why are they building a $20 million rec center using more of our tax dollars in a FLOOD PLAIN? They are from the government and they are here to help. Who would have thunk, in one week, Mayor Farmer, Glen S. and I would see eye to eye on the Rec Center and Family Dollar. They should have never done Family Dollar and the Rec Center should go at the site of the old Arlens building at the end of Park Street and not take prime retail on the corner Michigan Ave and the Huron River.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

With all of the needs Ypsi has I think this is the best use of $12,000,000.......Agree?


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

Stephen - is it simple enough for you to understand that if we keep spending money on non-essentials that we soon will not have enough for the essentials like schools and roads????


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

You need to actually understand the proposal before making comments about it. This is not the city spending money. This is not $12M coming out of the city budget. This is not $12M that the city could be spending on something else. Is that simple enough for you to understand?

Jay Thomas

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 6:49 a.m.

They should hire ten more cops instead of it.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

It looks like the Family Dollar sale is paying off immediately. The Family Dollar has attracted a rec center as additional economic development.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 4 p.m.

@UpperDecker - You better watch out for my $1.99 store!


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

I have submitted my bid for a $2 store, right next to the Family Dollar. They always say competition is a good thing!


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 3 p.m.

Listen, Ypsilanti needs to wake up and realize what type of community it really is. It is a commuter college town with a huge population of low-income person's with drug addiction problems. Ypsilanti is also home to one the largest population of MPRI (Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative) subjects in the State, check the statistics, YEP Ypsilanti thought it was a good idea to allow parolees to move in. Ypsilanti sold it's sould a long time ago and it will never be a nice family oriented community. The neighborhoods around EMU will always be a mix of students and drug addicts and now thanks to the State of Michigan, Parolees. Depot town will always be a great place to get a meal or grab a beer, and the surrounding area is fine for hipsters and young artists. But I will say again Ypsilanti will never be a place for decent people to raise their children, just as Detroit is not a good place to raise children or buy property. There are good neighborhoods in Ypsilanti, there however isn't enough to rise above the projects on the south side, the problems that come from the apartments off of Leforge Road or the total lack of any type of sound leadership from the city government. Who is going to police this community center, lets face it there will be fights at the basketball courts, thefts on a regular basis and the constant issue with graffiti that the rest of the city faces. YPD is over worked, under appreciated and the city government lives in a fantasy world. If you give the degenerates of Ypsilanti a place to gather than they shall, and crime will follow after. Just look at the O-Zone house on Hamilton, I attended classes at EMU's college of business and observed kids on a daily basis smoking marijuana, fights in the street, and that was the least of the issues. Ypsilanti needs a community center like a garbage dump needs an air freshener.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

So where do you live Sheepyd?

Glen S.

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 6:22 p.m.

@ Sheepyd Thanks for all the positivity... Glad to know that "decent" people like you have no intention of moving to Ypsilanti anytime soon.

Andrew Jason Clock

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

Glen, and others, keep saying that the plot where the Rec Center would be placed is the most valuable, and that is simply not true. That parcel is, in fact, the least valuable frontage on Michigan Avenue for the entire Water Street site. It is in a flood plain, and due to the height of the Michigan Ave bridge, can not be accessed from the main road, only from an internal road on the site. The three most valuable spots on Water Street, according to all appraisals, are the lots on either side of River Street and the one just sold to Family Dollar. If you want to manufacture outrage over value, be outraged about that sale Please, stop saying the proposed Rec Center site is the the most valuable part of Water Street when you know that's not the truth. The truth is, the County is taking on the most difficult part of the site to manage and providing us with an anchor development. And here's another not so unknown fact: the site IS ALREADY OFF THE TAX ROLL. It has been for a dozen years and has no prospect of getting back on the tax rolls at this time. Yes, it would be great if lots of land made it back on the tax rolls, but there is absolutely no one interested in buying at this time, other than Family Dollar. So what the county is trying to do is help jump start some interest by building on the hardest to manage bit, which would also happen to make a great public facility. Oh, and again, we can't build on Waterworks park. That has also been show to be complacently unfeasible because every water main in the city converges on that site, the site of the old water works. This Rec center is the best, and only option we've got in the foreseeable future to do something good with the Water Street Property. It's the plan the majority of residents favor. The County is trying to throw us a bone here; we need to be smart enough to take it. City council, it seems, has finally boarded the bus back to reality on this, please catch a ride with them.

Glen S.

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

I also want to reiterate -- in case it wasn't clear -- that I think the recreation center is a great idea, and will be great a tremendous asset for Ypsilanti. All I'm asking for is a bit more thoughtfulness and creativity about where would be the best place to build it.

Glen S.

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

Andrew, I understand the property is already off the tax rolls. What I don't understand is why you and others are so eager to make sure it stays that way forever. I agree that a new recreation center would be *nice* to have, but frankly, I'm much more concerned about our ongoing ability to pay for *must* haves -- like adequate police and fire protection, replacing critical infrastructure, and maintaining our already existing city parks. In case anyone has forgotten, Ypsilanti faces an ongoing, structural budget crisis, and we continue being forced to make unprecedented cuts. Something like 35-40 percent of all City land is already off the tax rolls, and voters have twice overwhelmingly rejected additional taxes to pay for services. That's why -- while I'm 100 percent in favor of continuing the B2B trail along the Huron River -- I continue to believe the remainder of the site should be preserved for private development that could eventually generate much-needed tax revenue. You claim that "the majority of residents favor" the County's plan. Yet, only weeks ago, the consensus of a series of community meetings (and the advice of our hired urban development expert) all clearly pointed away from the desirability of having large "suburban"-type developments on the Water Street site (as the Recreation Center would be, with its large footprint and tons of parking) in favor of more modular "grid"-type development that would better integrate with the rest of the city. If there is indeed a "bus to reality," I think it is headed toward a realization that the only way Ypsilanti will be able to remain solvent and continue to afford public services (including recreation) is by fostering enough private (residential and commercial) tax-paying development to help pay for them. Water Street represents one of our best opportunities to make that happen -- but only if we choose to keep that option open.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

Amen dude! Spot on analysis here. This rec center is a GOOD THING, people need to stop quibbling over the location and accept it.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

I love the idea, but the presently proposed location is problematic. We need the taxes from this property especially at a time when we face the issues of police and fire protection, higher taxes, etc. Water works park is already off the tax rolls, already has a road through it and logical locations for basketball courts, skate parks and parking as well as easy access from I-94, the township and the south west and southeastern parts of our city. The border to border trail will pass through it and we can spend a lot less money expanding the bridge over the river that already exists there then paying for the Fisher Honda arrangement and the bridge. We will be paying for this Rec Center three times, once in lost property tax on the Michigan Avenue site, once to prepare the site (infrastructure and the Fisher Honda deal) and again in Recreation millages we pay to the county.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

Read Andrew's post, below this one. The fished Honda deal has NOTHING to do with the rec center, by the way.

Katrease Stafford

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

Here's a timeline for when things are expected to be constructed: Construction onthe pedestrian bridge that will run through a portion of the Fischer Honda property will occur in 2013. The border to border trail will be completed in 2014. Construction will begin on the recreation center in 2015.

Mark Hergott

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

The construction will only begin if the voters of Washtenaw county renew the 10 year millage. I am going to vote for it. That doesn't mean enough people will vote for it, and we sure as taxes should not think that this is a done deal until after the November 2014 election has been certified.

Glen S.

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

For a relatively small city, Ypsilanti already has an extraordinary amount of non-taxable property (EMU, churches, non-profits, etc.), which is the main reason we continue to struggle with an ongoing, structural budget crisis. Everyone seems to recognize the answer is to foster more private (taxable) development -- and that Water Street represents our best opportunity. Nevertheless, the County continues to insist that the only way they will consider building a new recreation center in Ypsilanti is if it is built in *exactly* their desired location -- which also just happens to be the most prime corner of our best potential development site. I'm disappointed that given the size of the Water Street site (38 acres), and the ample availability of public (non-taxable) property all around it, this concept cannot be reconfigured to provide the benefit of a new recreation center while still preserving our opportunity to develop the most prime parcels (adjacent to the Huron River, Downtown and Michigan Avenue) in the way that makes most sense for our community in the long-run.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

Glen - you don't seem to understand that government fuels the economy not private enterprise, especially since they can print their own money. Just ask Ben Bernanke...............


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

I would like a rec and fitness center nearby asap, please include basketball courts.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

This belongs in Waterworks Park. Another shortsighted decision by the city to appease....who? To benefit who? This will prove to be Murdock's Muckup.

Steve McKeen

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

At least Glen has the guts to post under his real name Gary. More importantly, wasn't it you saying the people who call this endeavour 'Farmer's Folly' should stop talking about the past and more forward? Then you go and call Murdoch names? Stay classy, Gary. Finally, the city doesn't even own the property in Waterworks Park people are suggesting as a place for the rec center.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

Ypsi city officials ducking for cover after their ineptitude almost cost the city a valuable asset here. Close one.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

Great idea!