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Posted on Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Delays with Fuller Road Station project in Ann Arbor put public art project on hold

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor Public Art Commission is putting an art project on hold after continued delays with the city's Fuller Road Station project.

Aaron Seagraves, the city's public art administrator, addressed the issue at Wednesday's meeting of the art commission.

The commission has been considering a $250,000 public art installation at the site of the project on Fuller Road. The first phase of the transit center project was expected to come before the City Council for approval months ago, but the city and the University of Michigan remain in negotiations on some of the final details of the project.


Aaron Seagraves

"I don't know much of the specifics, but they don't expect there will be a finalized agreement between the university and the city until six months down the road or more," Seagraves said. "So we saw no reason to go forward with asking for an artist since it was going to be delayed that long. Six months is too long."

Fuller Road Station is a partnership between the University of Michigan and the city. Plans call for an intermodal transportation facility built around a new train and bus station.

A dominant element of the first phase is a large parking structure in front of the U-M medical campus, and that's where city officials are planning a public art installation.

Once Fuller Road Station moves further along, Seagraves said, the art commission can resume discussions about seeking an artist.

Mayor John Hieftje, who spoke with via phone after Wednesday's meeting, said he's hopeful the Fuller Road Station project will come back to council soon.

"We'll let the attorneys work on it, and two to three months would seem more reasonable to me than six to 12," he said.

The first phase of Fuller Road Station was approved by the city's Planning Commission more than 14 months ago in September 2010. There's been little communication since from city officials about why the project hasn't gone to council for approval.

Eli Cooper, the city's transportation program manager, said Wednesday night the delay is mostly due to the fact that the city's attorneys remain in negotiations with U-M on a construction, operations and maintenance agreement for the first phase, which includes a five-level, 977-space parking structure expected to stand for the next 75 to 100 years.

"These are important and longstanding agreements and I'm sure there's reason for both parties to push back and forth," Cooper said.

Also included in the Phase I plans approved by the Planning Commissioner are five built-in bus bays and 103 bicycle parking spaces. The long-term vision is estimated to cost $121 million, inclusive of planning and engineering costs, and includes a new train station.


A conceptual look at the first phase of Fuller Road Station, which includes a five-level, 977-space parking structure in front of the University of Michigan Hospital.

City officials have talked about tweaking the plans to include commuter rail platforms in the first phase. They've also talked about doing the project in one phase now that it appears the federal government might be interested in funding the overall project.

The city previously estimated the first phase would cost $43 million. The university agreed more than two years ago it would pay 78 percent of those costs, but now the two parties are working out some of the finer points, including how everything will work operationally.

Hieftje said the announcement earlier this year of $2.8 million in federal funding for preliminary work on Fuller Road Station means the city now has "another wrinkle" to work out. He said he's not complaining about that, but rather acknowledging that it's taking time.

"We have more partners to incorporate now," he said.

Cooper said the city also is working out a contractual agreement with the Michigan Department of Transportation. The city applied for the federal funding through MDOT.

"We're going to be an agent on behalf of the state," Cooper said. "It's a multi-party project. The agreement between the city and the state will speak to our mutual obligations to the Federal Rail Administration. The state is an intermediary."

Cooper agreed with Hieftje that waiting another six months or more for the project to come back to council sounds unreasonable.

He acknowledged there have been unexpected delays, though.

"I'm waiting for a package from MDOT to take to council," Cooper said, noting MDOT previously told him it would be ready in September and it still hasn't arrived.

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 e-mail newsletters.



Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

Here is one of the costs for the Stadium bridge &quot;Easements approved by the council include: a road right-of-way easement from the University of Michigan for $563,400; two utilities easements from UM totaling $426,650; and an unrecorded water utilities easement.&quot; <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Now I cannot find the numbers on the website or brochure so I cannot be totally certain, but this is just another example of the city doing whatever the U of M wants. Heck the second page of the TIGER application just talks about how the bridge is needed to support the U of M, but they refuse to help the city with anything. if the U cared maybe they would do a PILOT but they don't. here is a nice excerpt from the app on why the bridge needs to be done. (remember its from page 2 so the city basically led off with it in the application) &quot;Stadium Boulevard is located just south of, as well as adjacent to, the University of Michigan's South Campus, an Anchor Institution, which houses the athletic facilities for the University, including the 109,901?seat football stadium, the 15,000?seat Crisler Arena, Yost Ice Arena, Field Hockey fields, Soccer fields, and more. The University of Michigan's Facility Operations Department is located immediately north of Stadium Boulevard, and this department is responsible for the operation and maintenance of all University of Michigan facilities. In addition, there are 1,700 University of Michigan permit parking spaces in the area between West Hoover Avenue, Main Street, Stadium Boulevard, and the Ann Arbor Railroad. The bridge project is necessary in order to sustain access to the football stadium, Crisler Arena, and the other sports facilities for the foreseeable future. The University's facilities, especially those located directly adjacent to the project, are of the utmost importance to the City of Ann Arbor and the State of Michigan. Access to these areas must be mainta


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 2:21 p.m.

So what's the real news here? Did the pre-mature utility work mess up the legality of the government grant ap and award? Did the loss of Rapundalo leave a leadership vacuum akin to the failed push for the conference center? Or perhaps a big old lawsuit is waiting in the wings if the voters do not get their right to vote for the sale of their parkland?

Ron Granger

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 2:09 p.m.

If this ever actually becomes a &quot;transit station&quot;, how would it function with 78% of the parking dedicated to the University?

Ron Granger

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

&quot;A dominant element of the first phase is a large parking structure in front of the U-M medical campus, and that's where city officials are planning a public art installation.&quot; -- So we are giving the university - who does not pay taxes - our park land for free, with no public referendum. And we are building them a parking structure that will be 78% dedicated to the university. And we're giving the university $250,000 in art. Won't our university masters be annoyed with this delay?

Ron Granger

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

As a rule of thumb.. If you put art at a bus stop or parking garage, people who are angry about their late bus will vandalize it.

Stephen Landes

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:22 p.m.

From the tone of the article the transfer of land from being a park to a parking lot is merely another wrinkle in the Mayor's and Council's plans. I expect that wrinkle will turn into a speed bump and maybe a brick wall. The use of park land for a non-park purpose is actually the least of my concerns, but it is certainly a huge legal issue. I am more concerned with the poor location of this proposed parking structure/possible train station. The access is poor and the potential for a huge traffic jam at this critical intersection is great. There are better locations for this facility -- something I have shared with the AATA.

David Cahill

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:22 p.m.

It's unfair to call the plants growing on the site of the abandoned Broadway Village project &quot;weeds&quot;. Several years ago McKinley, which manages this property, seeded it extensively with wildflowers. Remember - a weed is simply an unwanted plant. The Broadway Village site could be turned into a deer park by removing some of the fencing.

Steve Hendel

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

Can any reasonable person look at this property now and call it attractive, whatever it was seeded with? And before we give McKinley an award for public-spiritedness, let's remember that there are (I believe) a pile of unpaid taxes on the property. A deer park? That's about as practical as the 'train (station) to nowhere.' I doubt you could get anyone on Council to support that.

Jim Osborn

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

I agree with Stephen Ranzini. This is a transfer of Ann Arbor City parkland to U of M. It needs a vote. My other concerns are the cost of this project. Then, this is a U of M structure If I were to take the train to Chicago, and I wanted to drive to the station and park there, could I use this UM garage? If so, how much would it cost? Probably so much as to make me choose to drive to Chicago instead. Presently we have a station. There is a HUGE unused lot across the tracks. It appears to be a perfect use of a government's power to obtain this land for its station for additional INEXPENSIVE parking. Artwork for a broke city? Let UM pay for it, if they so choose.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 12:54 p.m.

Is the city's public art administrator a paid position? If so, another decision to waste tax payer money. But who am I to complain when the majority of Ann Arbor voters and tax payers seem to be happy with the way this city is being run, led and managed.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 12:52 p.m.

Stephen Ranzini for mayor!

Jim Osborn

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:12 p.m.

If he were so willing, city would get its financial house in order! Still, a tough job

Steve Hendel

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

I'd like to be convinced that this whole project, train station included, is not one big gift from the City to the U of M . There seems to be a lot of utilities work going on in the area-assumedly in connection with the project. Is the U paying it's share of these costs? Who will use this parking structure once it is completed BESIDES the U? Who will be using this train station OTHER THAN U of M staff and students? The political map in Ann Arbor is littered with hyped-up and stalled projects promoted by hizzoner. Remember Broadway Village? Yes, that fenced in weed infested field just overthrow Broadway Bridge, that blot on the entire neighborhood. How about WALLY, the north-south commuter train which ( had hizzoner's public statements been correct, would have been running for at least the past year or two? But wait, there's more: remember when the City was telling us that at least some version of the Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter train would be up and running 'soon'? Nostalgia certainly trumps reality for some people .


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 2:12 p.m.

U-M is why the city of A2 exists in the first place. So yes, U-M pays its fair share by employing thousands of people who pay A2 property taxes. Too bad A2 squanders the money on Art projects (funded by the road millage) and parking structures downtown that nobody wants.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 12:31 p.m.

When and IF the station gets built, the U of M should pay for the mural. They apparently have very deep pockets.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 12:14 p.m.

Could anyone assert with a straight face their intent to build a $121 million project and then tear it down and return it to parkland at the end of a long term lease? I hope city council does the right thing and puts the Fuller Road Station to a formal vote of the voters to approve what is in essence a sale of this parkland to U-M. Many of us support mass transit and the vision of what this project can do in the long term for Ann Arbor, but not unless the citizens first approve the deal in a formal vote since the city charter requires prior approval of any sale of parkland!


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 11:39 a.m.

What's the rush ? The Stadium bridge only took 10 years to finalize.