Ypsidixit - 2007-11-09 08:40:53
This charrette and plans, organized by landscape architect Chris Mueller (charrette cost: unknown amount of money), like the parks study ($5,000) before it, was paid for with Ypsilantians' tax monies. So I feel it's only fair for those who paid for this project thus far to ask some fair questions.

Who, specifically, (names) makes decisions about what goes into the parks, if anything?

What happens to the results of this charrette? Who looks at the feedback? What happens to the feedback ideas?

How much money beyond the initial $5,000 for the study has the city paid for this plan, to date?

Does any entity get a tax writeoff or benefit from this plan? Which one? How much?
Murph - 2007-11-09 11:04:37
Just a quick bit on the "what happens next" questions, since that's what I'm involved in:

* Chris brings a draft plan for Riverside / Frog Island to the next Rec Commission meeting (Thursday, Nov. 29, 7pm, Council Chambers) for feedback.

* Chris returns to the Commission at their next meeting (Thursday, Dec 13, 7pm, Council Chambers) with a final draft.

* By that December meeting, the Commission should be pretty close to a full draft of the Parks & Rec Master Plan (required every five years by the State for us to be eligible for park-related grant funding)

* The draft will be available for public comment likely for the month of January, with a public hearing in front of the Rec Commission at the beginning of February

* Rec Commission will likely recommend approval-with-revisions (for me to frantically make) to the City Council

* Then we submit to the DNR for their review. Also, the City is not paying for last night's charrette - but I believe (double-check with Brian Vosburg) that the County Parks & Rec Commission chipped in some money as a planning grant, which was used for last night, and for Mueller's overall work process. So, yes, tax money, but not Ypsi-general-fund tax money.
Ypsidixit - 2007-11-09 11:14:12
I apologize to kind readers; I was wrong in saying that the city directly paid for the charette. I said that based on something Mr. Mueller mentioned in passing offhand, which I clearly misunderstood. Sorry about that. Thank you, Murph, for correcting that.

Thank you also for the latest in a long line of helpful and informative replies. That really cleared it up; I didn't have much sense of where things went from here. Thank you.
Mrs. Parsons - 2007-11-09 16:17:17
Are they saying to build 'new' rest rooms, or fix the ones already there (which are always locked)? I think we should be happy to have the parks, and be more vigilant about keeping them cleaned up, and possibly (like that frog island garden) permit residents who want to volunteer to make improvements do so (upon approval, of course), but otherwise...i can't say i'm too impressed with that list of suggestions.
Ypsidixit - 2007-11-09 16:26:10
Mrs. Parsons, there was actually a lot of discussion about the rest room proposal at our table. I believe "build new ones" was the gist.

One in our group pointed out that the rest rooms in Prospect Park were built using prison grade equipment--and were nevertheless broken and destroyed only a short time later. So then another person said, OK, build new ones but keep them locked except during festivals. I suppose that brings up the question of whether it would be cheaper to just rent port-a-loos only during festival time, instead of maintaining full bathrooms for half a dozen festivals per year.

I think a "Restoration Day" with cleaning and pruning by volunteers, guided by a parks person, would be great. The Community Gardens are great. We had fun watching the plants grow over time when we jogged down there.
Mrs. Parsons - 2007-11-09 17:06:10
I've never been inside the riverside park restrooms, as they're always locked, but it certainly seems to me that even if they needed all their plumbing replaced it would still be cheaper than building something from scratch (and are their bathrooms in that frog island field house? I need to check, but if so, ditto on fixing those up too).
Suzie - 2007-11-09 17:24:31
couldn't make the mtg but thank you for printing one of the lists of ideas. "County Border to Border Trail Route" - very cool to at least plan for this, even if there aren't $$$ for the (expensive-looking) wide paved paths as seen elsewhere. "Riparian Buffer Strip with Native Vegetation Along River"- good idea to improve water quality, but probably only a high priority where riverbanks already need stabilization anyway. "Contemplative Space with Sculptural Landforms" - AAARRGGHH! How about contemplative space with - say - a river! And nice trees!
lynne - 2007-11-10 13:23:29
I think that a better, and more realistic, park plan would be to just repave the paths and to perhaps light them. I am kind of surprised about all of this park plan stuff anyways. I dont see how our city can afford such grand schemes.
Murph - 2007-11-11 11:50:33
Lynne -

"kind of surprised about all of this park plan stuff anyways"

The State requires the city to update its park plan every 5 years in order to remain eligible for any kind of park/rec-oriented grants. (Other granting agencies don't necessarily /require/ it, but they certainly want to see some sort of rational thought behind a grant application, and generally a parks & rec plan is what serves as that.) Our five years is about up, so we have to do a parks plan.

"I dont see how our city can afford such grand schemes."

Well, that's part of why we need a plan - the previous (2003) parks & rec plan included about $16m worth of capital improvements over five years. We need "all this park plan stuff" in order to pare that down into something realistic on a budget of "not much". The list that YD presented was largely a list of elements included in the previous, extravagant plan, and, in my opinion, the participants in Thursday's charrette did a pretty good job of cutting out the silly ones.

Additionally, the Riverside/Frog Island planning process is being undertaken not by the City, but by the Depot Town CDC, a private non-profit entity, who intend to do outside fundraising and grant writing in order to pay for the implementation of a pared-down plan for those two parks.

Suzie, re B2B -

very cool to at least plan for this, even if there aren't $$$ for the (expensive-looking) wide paved paths as seen elsewhere

Greenways and regional non-motorized trail networks are pretty hot these days with regional and national funding agencies. Washtenaw County has been an active partner in Ypsi's already completed segments of teh B2B trail, and continue to be involved in planning the last links. The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan has been throwing a lot of money at regional greenways. The federal Safe Routes to School program likes funding such paths as the spines of safe routes networks, etc. Really, the B2B is probably the absolute easiest thing on the list for Ypsi to get outside money for - no need to look at it as some wistful long-distant future item.
Lisele - 2007-11-12 20:58:14
I wandered in by accident. It looked very cool. Wish I could have stayed. But I had to find the meeting I was supposed to be at... Oh well...
BVos - 2007-11-12 21:42:43
The Depot Town CDC received a grant of $20,000 from Washtenaw County to pay for the approximately $20,000 master plan update for Frog Island and Riverside Parks . The only money the city has put into this project is $5,000 (of a $20,000 total start up cost) to help fund the start up of the CDC back in the fall of '06. The study was completely funded by Washtenaw County and the CDC if cost go above $20k. The city did assist with staff time (at the charrette, help finding maps, assisting with data gathering, etc.). The CDC's goal is to raise approximately $2 million over 3 years for capital improvements in the parks. Tax credits/write-offs are available to any tax generating entity (person, corporation, etc.) who would like to donate funds to the Depot Town CDC. Since the Depot Town CDC is a non-profit, there's no tax credits they can get. I agree with needing to do something with bathrooms. I can't tell you how many times I've been in Riverside, Prospect, Rec. Park (when the Senior Center isn't open), etc. with my kids and had to make a mad dash (or have an accident) to the nearest business for the bathroom.
Ypsidixit - 2007-11-13 09:06:51
Mrs. Parsons: Yes, the gist of the conversation was replacing, not building new, bathroom fixtures.

Hmm, I wonder too, now, what is in the Frog Island building by the track. I'm starting to wonder overall about the wisdom of public bathrooms in relatively isolated locations. If it seems that the ones in Riverside Park are locked all the time, presumably due to damage (?), and if the Prospect Park ones were destroyed, then, heck, I start to think, don't invest more money in what so far has only been destroyed.
Ypsidixit - 2007-11-13 09:19:19
Suzie: You're most welcome. Yes, the Border to Border trail which is once again repaired in front of the WCC Fitness Center, woohoo!!! is at present a really underutilized resource. I've taken it a million times to AA. Lots of future fitness activities, group rides, potluck trips, &c. could be organizied around this excellent existing resource.

"Riparian Buffer Strip with Native Vegetation Along River"- good idea to improve water quality, but probably only a high priority where riverbanks already need stabilization anyway.

Yes, if you ask me, the bank is much more eroded in the Frog Island portion, based on my fishin' back there. But overall I never got the impression that there was much erosion to begin with, though I am not a riparian expert of course.

"Contemplative Space with Sculptural Landforms" - AAARRGGHH! How about contemplative space with - say - a river! And nice trees!

AMEN! Oh, do I agree with you on this. I felt a curdling sensation in the pit of my stomach when I saw this particular proposal. I really hope that doesn't go through. Yes, as you say, the whole darn park is already just jim-dandy as a giant contemplative space.

No sculptural landforms needed. Whatever those are.
Ypsidixit - 2007-11-13 09:22:39
Lisele: Oh, wish I'd seen you. The charette was indeed cool. It was so fun, in fact, that it made me wish that charettes touching on various aspects of city development were a regular city event. The range of ideas from the general public was fairly staggering. It was exciting and interesting. And, given our fun-loving group, humorous and silly as well.
Ypsidixit - 2007-11-13 09:25:34
Murph: As always that is an informative and helpful answer. As mentioned before, the wonderful resource of the B2B trail from Ford Lake all the way to AA and beyond seems underutilized at present. Perhaps it could be used in conjunction with the parks to satisfy some of the DTCDC's fitness goals. The Bike Ypsi folks could be a great resource in suggesting such activities, I imagine.
Ypsidixit - 2007-11-13 09:33:44
Mr. V., thank you for your informative and helpful comment.

Your point about public bathrooms is well taken. It's a good point that they would be a good amenity for people with smaller children. I still tend to think, however, that thus far they've seemed to be nothing but targets for vandalism. Is there a way to rethink the public bathroom space (definitely a contemplative space, with sculptural porcelain) so as to make it nice, clean, and yet indestructible? Or has the destruction of the "prison-grade" facilities in Prospect Park showed that it's just not feasible?

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