Ypsilanti reaffirms support of proposed $12 million Eastside Recreation Center
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 AnnArbor.com 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.
Katrease Stafford | AnnArbor.com
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 AnnArbor.com 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.