2/25/16 Great neighborhood turnout for the FIRST EVER public forum on the UM Bus Barn!

Thanks to the great efforts by our ward leaders, Kirk Westphal and Jane Lumm, we finally had the public forum we have been asking for over the past two years! We were able to confirm a lot of the points we already made both yesterday in our letter to the Regents and this morning in our original blog post about the background to this meeting. Here were some of the confirming findings and other surprising comments we heard:

-Jim Kosteva, Director of Community Relations, confirmed the Regents have yet to see a summary of an environmental impact study or a traffic analysis. He noted they do not necessarily see these studies routinely prior to approval of contingent plans but acknowledged some projects do have them.

– Steve Dolan, Executive Director of Parking and Transportation Services, noted the following points:

  • Hours of operation are from 5:30 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. every day. Volume is less on weekends but still has the same hours.
  • During peak hours, there are 140 vehicles / hour that come in or go out of the area.
  • Buses idle each morning prior to going out on their runs for an operations check by the bus driver.
  • The projected bus depot would not have buses backing into it on a routine basis.
  • Service vehicles would still have back-up signals.
  • There are a total of 1000 vehicles that need to be serviced over the course of a year. Their volume each day is approximately 16-20 Monday through Friday. Many of them are staged in other places across the University campus so they are not all in the proposed location.

– Sue Gott, University Planner, noted they had considered many different sites and felt the Green/Hubbard corner best served the purposes of centralizing the bus activity near North Campus. The green space further to the west toward Huron Parkway would have required a high cost to re-shape the hills to level out the grade for the purposes of mass transit and servicing.

There were a lot of targeted questions regarding concerns about noise, traffic, fumes, and water management but the staff acknowledged that our neighborhood integrity concerns ran deeper. The most cogent comments came from two retired neighborhood members (one city planner and one campus planner). They noted this site plan is not consistent with what should normally be a University of Michigan standard and that it clearly violated the zoning patterns that are commensurate with the rest of the community. (We will leave it up to each of you to express your background and expertise regarding your questions, concerns or comments to Regents. Please Cc glacierhighlands@gmail.com in your e-mail so we can catalogue each of them over time. You may also add comments to this Blog Post as well.)

– Hank Baier, Associate Vice President for Facilities and Operations, concluded the session by saying “It’s a broader issue” regarding the overall mood in the room. In an informal straw poll, all hands went up when asked who was opposed to the current proposal. Mr. Baier stated his team will take our messages back to their leaders for further review. When asked, it was inconclusive as to where the bidding process currently is.

In the meantime, we drew the conclusion that the Regents need to hear more about our concerns in as many ways as possible. A separate link is available for you to send any e-mails to them: http://glacierhighlands.org/wp/?p=220. As above, please Cc glacierhighlands@gmail.com for our awareness as well.

Our friends and neighbors clearly rallied tonight, demonstrating solidarity in how we do not appreciate the lack of input we had in the process and the short-sighted plan for the University of not recognizing and respecting the special place we have in Ann Arbor.

Special thanks go to our elected leaders including Council members listed above and Andy LaBarre, our County Commissioner, who also attended! We greatly appreciate their support and insight.

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