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Posted on Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

Ann Arborites think city would benefit from more downtown parks, survey finds

By Ryan J. Stanton

More than 76 percent of roughly 1,600 online survey respondents believe Ann Arbor would benefit from having more downtown parks and open spaces.

As the city moves forward with exploring the idea, a majority of those surveyed suggested they'd prefer a new park at least the size of Liberty Plaza, which is about 11,000 square feet.


Liberty Plaza in downtown Ann Arbor.

Courtney Sacco |

Many others indicated they'd prefer a large park or open space similar in size to the Farmers Market, which is about 30,000 square feet.

The Downtown Park Subcommittee of the city's Park Advisory Commission invited the public to take the online survey as it continues to look at the issue of downtown parks.

The committee plans to make a recommendation to the City Council this fall about use of city-owned properties as parks or open space.

The survey noted the city uses streets, parking lots and plazas for more than 50 annual downtown street festivals, fairs and outdoor programmed events.

About half of those surveyed said those spaces meet or exceed the community's need for downtown parks and open spaces, while 37.6 percent said they don't; 13.3 percent were unsure.

If the city were to add more downtown parks or open spaces, only 9 percent of respondents think it should be solely funded by city tax dollars.

Rather, 67.8 percent said it should be funded through a combination of public and private sources, and another 5.8 percent said it should be solely private funds.

The Library Lot parking lot above the Fifth Avenue underground parking garage was ranked as the most desirable spot for a new downtown park/open space, followed by the old YMCA site across the street, the Kline Lot at Ashley and William, and the Palio Lot at Main and William. The least desirable location on the list was the former city maintenance yard at 721 N. Main St.

The majority — about 62 percent — of survey respondents were 45 and older, while about 34 percent were 25-44, and 3.8 percent were 18-24.

The public is invited to attend the next public meeting of the Downtown Park Subcommittee from 7-8:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, at the Ann Arbor District Library, 345 S. Fifth Ave. Another meeting is planned from 7-8:30 p.m. Sept. 18 inside the basement of city hall.

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.



Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

A park that offers greenery, seating for performance, a place to meet and be with friends and family members would be great for the ground level east of Fifth Ave., north of the downtown library.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

This survey and story are further evidence of the "downtown centric" mindset of the powers that be. If Ann Arbor is the center of the universe, then, surely, downtown Ann Arbor is the center of the center of the universe.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 2:48 a.m.

The city is probably glad they got this damn survey out of the way so they can start building the highrise complex on the library lot.


Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

Precisely! "Hey we threw the serfs a red herring, now let's ignore it and do what WE want."


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 9:59 a.m.

Thank you for labeling it the way it is.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:14 a.m.

People want park land but then complain about high rent costs.

The Picker

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 11:07 p.m.

Sorry, There's no spaces left for parks, they all have parking structures on them !


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:17 a.m.

Yep, a little late now to create parks where parking garages are. It would so much to try to clean the site up.

An Arborigine

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 10:50 p.m.

Is that a typo, "parks"? Should that read "parking"?


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 10:31 p.m.

know how that going work downtown? more parks?? well to many park are not good at all get boring after awhile.. lets venues for music and money making make ann arbor music city and bring the labels here

DJ Earl

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

I'm still trying to figure out what he shared.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 2:53 a.m.

Thanks for sharing.


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 10:16 p.m.

Suggestions: 1. Let the next group that wants to build a massive hi-rise fund it. 2. Let those who want it fund it.

Dog Guy

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

A wonderful park site would be adjacent the Larcom Building if that big tin shed were torn down.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 5:10 p.m.

This is Ann Arbor. People overwhelmingly love their parks. The people who work and live downtown need a park. And Sonic Lunch concerts are often becoming too large for Liberty Park. We need a great green park space downtown, where people can enjoy their lunch or dinner comfortably. Or read. Or have a business meeting. It needs to be large enough that people aren't all crammed together. And not just a big concrete pad or hole, like Liberty Plaza. And since some of us like to sit on the grass and maybe up a against tree - you know, the trees that dogs like to pee on - it should be a dog-free park.

The Picker

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 11:11 p.m.

What about the bums that pee on them!


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 10:32 p.m.

how many parks can vist in one day? lets tear the city down and build huge park and lets all live in tress


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

I don't think that this is large enough sample size to ascertain the public's collective feelings as a whole.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 2:16 a.m.

Sample size is not the issue. The unrepresentative nature of the survey is. It doesn't matter how well advertised it was, respondents self-selected into the survey -- people who happen to read certain websites and happen to care enough (or have enough time) to spend the time to answer them, and so forth. It leaves you with something potentially far different from the views of the typical user and/or taxpayer for downtown Ann Arbor. As for the notion of downtown parks, let me say I love that you can go around this town and see not only lots of parks, but also, on any number of streets, enjoy large trees creating a canopy cover as you walk or bike or drive down... Packard, Liberty, Miller, Sunset, etc. It's great. But do we need more park space in the "giant" 6 x 8 block (at best) space we call "downtown." Heaven forbid I go 4-5 whole blocks without seeing a park!


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 2:09 a.m.

grye, compared to what The University takes away from tax income parks are peanuts.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 12:50 a.m.

The city has a difficult time keeping up all the of the current parks. Weeds grow unchallenged. grass is cut after it is too high. Trees are rarely trimmed and bushes look terrible. If the city cannot maintain the number of parks it currently has, how should we expect another park to be the any different? Just another space taken away from potential tax income.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 7:17 p.m.

We wrote a news story about the survey being open and I believe the city put out an email blast and posted it on the web. Anybody who follows the news or gets the city's alerts could have taken it and voiced their opinions. Are you concerned this survey was worded badly or asked the wrong questions?

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

Ryan, I don't understand your point about the Connecting William Street surveys. They had the same limitations as any of these online surveys, being self-selected. How is this "building on" those surveys, when the complaint was that park uses were specifically discounted in that exercise?

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 5:52 p.m.

Keep in mind, the city isn't going to be making decisions about the future of downtown parks based solely on this one online survey. This is simply one part of a broader effort, including public meetings, to investigate the issue, which will be channeled up through PAC to City Council. I'm sure there would be additional efforts to reach out to the community for more feedback if the city came up with an actual plan for a new downtown park. Also, remember this is building on the Connecting William Street effort, which involved reaching out to more than 2,000 participants through community meetings and online surveys to get feedback on the future of city-owned properties downtown.