City and Township elected officials made plans to form a joint fire response system called automatic mutual aid. The plan calls for both City and Township fire departments to respond simultaneously to any structure fire in the City or Township.
The plan would result in more firefighters responding to a fire call which should result in lower fire insurance bills for residents. The new system will also be safer for firefighters as there will be more firefighters on scene.
The Township approved the plan in January and is waiting for Ypsilanti City Council to approve the final plan. Details were hammered out during planning sessions held in 2007. The plan has the support of both fire chiefs and both firefighter unions. Officials in both the Township and City said that outside of additional cost for fuel and minor wear and tear on the equipment, it won’t cost either department additional money.
Officials estimated that there would likely be one or two calls per month. Township Clerk Brenda Stumbo suggested that both boards consider a trail period to work out final details.
The township also committed to spending $5,000 as their contribution to the Spark East business incubator planned for downtown Ypsilanti. The City of Ypsilanti had already committed $15,000 over three years for Spark East.
The City and Township committed to holding more joint meetings on a quarterly basis.
(April 29, 2008) Ypsilanti City Council listened for nearly 2 hours as city staff presented an update on Water Street. The struggling project has had many missteps and false starts. Most recently, the former head of Planning Karen Hart was let go in a reorganization in part because no progress had been made in the past 18 months.
The Water Street project is now headed by City Manager Ed Koryzno and Assistant City Manager April McGrath. McGrath said the city was concentrating their efforts on the upcoming Brownfields conference in Detroit.
The city is partnering with Washtenaw County at the conference and is planning to have a van available to bring attendees of the conference to Water Street to tour the site.
McGrath also announced that they were planning to remove the fence along Michigan Avenue and put up a sign announcing the project. Removing the fence will save the city nearly $5,000 a year in rental fees.
(April 23, 2008) Depot Town DDA meetings are rarely boring but often long. This meeting didn’t fail to disappoint on either account. Allegations were made that a local Depot Town business owner threatened to make sure a new business would never open in the Thompson Building.
Squabbles broke out over the DDA director choosing winners and losers for facade grant application sent to the state without board review. At the urging of the mayor, the DTDDA then approved, in a 5-4 decision, the facade grant application after it had already been sent to the State.
The board even approved the FY2008-2009 budget while many of the board members had not even seen the budget prior to being it being presented at the meeting. The board also approved changing the pay of the DDA director, authorizing money to be transferred directly from the DTDDA account rather then being combined with the Ypsilanti (Downtown) DDA budget.
Mayor Schreiber also apologized for the Ypsilanti DDA’s failure to complete the evaluation of the DDA director saying it was due to the DDA board being lazy.
Features include the ability to plan and store routes and check schedules. AATA officials said the maps are more accurate and more up to date than the maps on AATA’s website.
AATA hopes in the future they will have real-time GPS so riders can see where the bus is and how long to the next stop.
Maps will work with desktop computers and most smartphones.
Cuts could mean eliminating two police officers to pay for buses
(April 20, 2008) The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) has told Ypsilanti City officials that the City must fully fund their annual contribution for bus service in Ypsilanti or face elimination of routes and cuts in service. AATA has told the city that their share for bus service is nearly $276,000 a year. The City is currently paying about half that amount, about $134,000.
On Tuesday, April 15, 2008, Mayor Paul Schreiber (Dem) in his remarks to the Council said the city must fully fund AATA bus service in Ypsilanti. Schreiber told the rest of City Council the public safety budget for Ypsilanti police and fire is $7.5 million annually. Schreiber said, if they took the worst case scenario, police and fire would be reduced by 2% to fully fund buses.
Bill Nickels (Dem, Ward 2) said that reducing police by $140,000 is the equivalent of eliminating two police officers.
Schreiber asked the council, “Is losing half of the bus service worth losing a fraction of the police force? It is a matter of priority.”
Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber tells council they must fully fund bus service in Ypsilanti, even if it means cutting police and fire. (Schreiber is in the red shirt)
Lois Richardson (Dem, Ward 1) asked how much money would AATA lose in other funding if AATA cut service in Ypsilanti? Richardson, answering her own question said, “AATA hasn’t told us.”
After the meeting, Nickels said that he is not in favor of fully funding bus service it if means cuts to police and fire.
According to the AATA, over 550,000 people a year board the bus in Ypsilanti.
The AATA receives funds from a variety of sources including the Ann Arbor DDA and U-M. These organizations make contributions to AATA so that U-M students as well as employees that work downtown and at U-M get free bus passes to encourage employees that live in Ypsilanti to use the bus. EMU and WCC also subsidizes AATA in part so that Ann Arbor residents can attend class in Ypsilanti.
U-M and the Ann Arbor DDA have said when students and employees use the bus it reduces the need for more parking spaces and reduces traffic congestion in the City of Ann Arbor. The Ann Arbor DDA has said in past presentations that bus service for employees in downtown Ann Arbor improves the quality of life for all residents in Ann Arbor and it prevents other property from being gobbled up and turned into parking lots and structures.
It is unclear how cuts service in Ypsilanti will impact the subsidies AATA gets from U-M and other local contributors. Also unknown are the impacts on federal and state subsidies AATA receives if residents in Ypsilanti can no longer use the bus service because AATA has cut or eliminated service in Ypsilanti.
AATA could lose far more in State and Federal subsidies, as well as subsidies from U-M and other area businesses, than the additional $140,000 they are trying to extract from the City of Ypsilanti. AATA has so far been unwilling to discuss how much they would lose from other funding sources if they cut or eliminated bus service in Ypsilanti.
Watch the complete meeting below.
Update1: 4/29/08 Added video of full meeting
(April 8, 2008) A suspicious drum was found Tuesday morning in the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority (DDA) dumpster enclosure in the North Huron Street lot. The red 20 gallon metal drum with a lid was dropped off sometime time after 4pm Monday afternoon.
Responding to the call were firefighters from the City of Ypsilanti, Augusta Township, and Pittsfield Township as well as a Huron Valley Ambulance crew, Ypsilanti Police, and Ypsilanti Department of Public Works. Firefighters were waiting for testing and monitoring equipment so they could determine the contents.
At 9:30am the parking lot and street remain open and no business have been evacuated.
The dumpsters have been a problems for the DDA since they were built over three years ago at a cost of over $300,000. Because there was no monitoring and no coordinated pickup, the dumpsters have been the subject of frequent trash dumping from residents and business outside the area.
DDA officials just this week have begun picking up the trash in all three dumpsters enclosures under a new contract with Waste Management. It is hoped this new program will help to clean-up the dumpster enclosures in the City parking lots and encourage more downtown residents and business to use the dumpster enclosures.
The DDA hopes with regular trash pick-ups and monitoring by downtown business and residents, problems like the dumping of oil drums and other illegal waste will decline. If you are a witness to illegal dumping you are encouraged to call the Ypsilanti Police non-emergency number at (734) 483-9510. You do not have give your name or address when you call.
(April 4, 2008) With the Ypsilanti School Board election coming up on May 6th, a debate was held on Wednesday at Chapelle Community School. There are five candidates running for three positions.
Kira Berman and Katherine Weathers are running for the 1-year term. Sarah Devaney, Edward Jackson, and Thomas Reiber are running for two 4-year terms. Jackson was not able to attend the debate because of a scheduling conflict.
Ypsilanti School Board Debate 2008.04.02 Part 1
Ypsilanti School Board Debate 2008.04.02 Part 2
(April 2, 2008) Calling all banjos to come to the aid of Ypsilanti’s beloved Freighthouse.
Some of the areas finest indie, old-time, punk, roots and bluegrass performers will be plucking on the ol’ banjo April 5, 2008 from 5-10 p.m. at the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Donations of $5 or more are appreciated at the door. All proceeds benefit the hardworking Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse.
Washtenaw County Sheriff Dan Minzey told Channel 4 News that exotic pets get dumped in local lakes often. “There is probably a bunch of places these things can hide,” said Minzey.
We didn’t take those reports seriously until we got an urgent call from a resident from the Historic Eastside Neighborhood Association saying we needed to get over to Riverside Park, he just saw an alligator.
We weren’t really expecting to find anything, however this resident had told us about Ice Skating in Riverside Park and we didn’t think that was true either.
no images were found
Imagine our surprise when we saw what appeared to be an alligator sunning itself on the bank of the Huron River in Riverside Park. We observed the alligator for over an hour. It moved over to a small pond in the middle of the park. Then moved back to the river and headed down river.