Ypsilanti's State of the City address: Mayor to focus on Water Street development, city services
Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber will deliver a State of the City 2013: Shaping Ypsilanti address Tuesday, focusing on the city's economic future, city services and its Water Street development.
"It's going to be a look not only over the last year, but over the last number of years on how Ypsilanti has changed," Schreiber said. "I'm focusing on the master plan process and how we're really planning for the future and the changes we're seeing... We have to plan for what we want for Water Street."
Water Street development is necessary in order for the city to move forward, city officials have said many times. One development that may come into fruition over the next few months is the proposed Family Dollar store.
Many residents have spoken out against the proposed development, while some city officials believe it will finally lead to some much needed development.
Schreiber shared a snippet of the address with AnnArbor.com and in it, he says the proposed single-story building conforms to many of the Water Street zoning guidelines created by the Ypsilanti Planning Commission.
Schreiber noted the proposal has "sparked spirited comments." Schreiber said the crux of the Family Dollar debate has centered around what type of developments on Water Street will continue Ypsilanti’s transformation.
"Critics preferred independent retail or a supermarket to attract customers to other businesses downtown," Schreiber wrote in his state of the city address. "Supporters wanted to start development now with a viable proposal.
"In the end, the majority of city council voted to continue negotiations with Family Dollar because the proposal conformed to the planning commission guidelines, fit in with the buildings directly east and north of the site, and provided a building that could be adapted to other uses in the future." Schreiber said the city's updated master plan will address the vision for Water Street and the entire city.
The address title mirrors the name of the city's master plan update process, Shape Ypsilanti, which is expected to create guiding values for land use, housing, transportation, equity and sustainability within the city.
Schreiber said the city is undergoing a transition from being a manufacturing town to a "destination college" town.
Ypsilanti's manufacturing plants have closed throughout the years, resulting in reduced tax revenues and the elimination of close to 1,600 jobs, Schreiber said.
"This master plan process will not be a status-quo update," Schreiber wrote. "As the request for proposals points out, Ypsilanti’s previous 1998 master plan assumed that heavy industry like the Ford plant would exist in Ypsilanti indefinitely."
The economic recession that occurred in 2008-2009 dramatically reduced property values and the 2013 master plan is expected to factor in these changes.
"Some of the revenue sources we had in 1998, that's just not the case now," Schreiber said. "I think people have to sit back and really take in the tremendous changes that have happened in Ypsilanti."
The rest of the state of the city address will focus on proposals to deliver police, fire, waste removal and other basic city services, Schreiber said.
Last year's state of the city address focused on the city's 5-year budget plan and a city income tax and a Water Street debt millage, that were both voted down overwhelmingly by Ypsilanti voters.
In order for the city to remain solvent, Schreiber said the city has to look at other ways to generate revenue.
The city is now considering a proposal that would create a hybrid police and fire department, that would see some officers become cross-trained public safety officers.
The city also is pursuing a special assessment district that would cover the electricity costs.
Schreiber will deliver his address at 7 p.m., Tuesday at the Ypsilanti City Hall.