#nogreenroadbusyard / University Response

Update from President Schlissel

Dear neighbors,

Our continued efforts to make our concerns be heard in a respectful, thoughtful and professional manner is making an impact. We are being heard and actions are being taken. Please help us stay this course to get to the answer we believe is the right one… a bus yard does not belong in between our neighborhoods. We will have specific action items available to activate your support later this week but please remember to note these upcoming events:

  1. May 16th City Council meeting – we will be signing up for public comment to generate more awareness.
  2. May 19th Regents meeting in Grand Rapids @3pm- we have two speakers confirmed and a small group committed to attend.
  3. May 30th Memorial day parade – visible presence and table at the event.
  4. June 1st Construction Party – Think bulldozers, dump trucks and earth movers. More to come around this event.
  5. June 16th Regents Meeting in Ann Arbor. We will work with the University planning team to ensure that we can accommodate everyone this time around.

5/10/16 email response from President Schlissel to our letter sent to the University planning team on 5/5/16:

Dear Ms. Delaney and Ms. Aldrich:

Thank you for writing to me and sharing your additional concerns about the Transportation Operations Center project.

I am committed to fully evaluating the input from you and your neighbors and further analyzing important data before making a recommendation on the next steps for the location of the project. Our initial planning clearly lacked input from those in the neighborhoods closest to the proposed location, and we are working to improve the process going forward.

It is good to note that the communications of Mr. Baier, Mr. Kosteva and Ms. Gott have been helpful.  They are also providing regular and accurate feedback to me and other senior leaders.  I have asked the three of them to be in touch with you this week to discuss the concerns you raised in your message to me.

I can assure you that we are exploring all facets of this project and are doing so in good faith.  Our thorough re-examination includes engagement with you and your community, as well as with outside experts advising us on many of the issues that have been raised, such as air quality and noise and traffic impacts.  We are evaluating a variety of options for the project, including different building configurations and utilization of other site locations. Once this phase is complete, we will share the results of our study.

All of these efforts started with my announcement at the March Board of Regents meeting that the project would be placed on hold, permit requests would be withdrawn, and further engagement with neighbors would occur. Each of these has happened.

At that meeting, I also asserted my hope that we can work through the issues we face in partnership.  Please know that my team and I are fully committed to doing so. I’ll follow up with the team to ensure we continue to share information and develop a good process for discussion of next steps when we know more.

Sincerely,

Mark S. Schlissel

 

Please see our Response sent on 5/10/16:

Good morning President Schlissel:

Thank you for your response. We appreciate your reassurance that the University is doing, in good faith, due diligence on this project as well as your use of the word partnership. We view our neighborhood very much a part of the University community. Our neighborhood survey confirms that the majority of us are either employed by the University (40%), alumni/students or have immediate family that are alumni/students at the University (60%) or have donated to the University (82%). 24% are even football season ticket holders.
We believe we are on the same team and because of this, we are troubled by some of the behaviors we are seeing by the University representatives. As much as we do appreciate the information provided, it’s not without specific, pointed requests do we receive the answers we are seeking. In addition, the latest information regarding the alternative uses for the Green/Hubbard location appears to be a justification for the Bus Yard at that location vs. solid, well-thought through analysis of the alternatives. We shared the information with faculty at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and here are some examples of the feedback we received:

“The considerations_4-29-16.pdf document is weak and defensive. It is a classic case of trying to rationalize a decision, rather than a careful, balanced evaluation. Many of the claims are not supported by evidence…it is not a rigorous, defensible document. And it is certainly not useful for decision makers to make an informed decision.”

“I can imagine future planners, architects, landscape architects saying:  ‘Who put that bus facility on such a high profile site? What a shame: they could have done much better, and now our options are limited.’  This is important, because this is stating the interests not of the neighbors, but the long-term interests of the university itself … putting the bus facility there is myopic and short-sighted. If they did some more rigorous, thorough planning for North Campus, they would quickly come to the conclusion that the bus facility shouldn’t go there.”

Our team had a similar reaction when reviewing this new information and it’s troubling to have it confirmed by thought leaders at our very own Architecture and Urban Planning College. To our team, this doesn’t not represent the partnership we know you seek.
We would like to make one additional request. Can you please provide us with timelines for when we can expect information about next steps? Our organization is composed of volunteers who hold demanding professional positions and many of us are parents to school aged children. The time and energy that has gone towards our effort to be heard has taken away from our professional obligations as well as time with our families. However, we will continue to rally our neighbors because this truly does matter to us. Our neighborhood, our homes and families are worth this hardship.
To close, I wanted to share that I enjoyed listening to your podcast from Ann Arbor SPARK this morning. We wholeheartedly agree that Ann Arbor is a wonderful place to live with our culture, walkable streets and the outstanding quality of life. It is just that we are trying to preserve. That same outstanding quality of life for our neA2 community of alumni, staff, faculty, researchers, students, entrepreneurs, investors, future students, donors, football fans and supporters.
Respectfully,
Sandy Aldrich & Kate Delaney

 

7 thoughts on “Update from President Schlissel

  1. First off, great letter. Here are my thoughts re looking at alternatives:
    From the beginning I have always thought that letting the UofM’s planning committee manipulate us into “helping” them suggest alternatives was a pure waste of our time and a smoke screen to help delay what they view as their inevitable decision. It is NOT our responsibility to make suggestions on what else to put there. Our only message should be “Do Not Build An Industrial Facility i.e. The Transportation Operations Center in Our or Anyone Else’s Neighborhood.” It is their responsibility to decide what to place there as an alternative, of course AFTER they make the “right” decision to not place the “bus yard” there, and THEN we as a community should have to right to give feedback. Although, I can’t imagine they would be so cavalier about it next time. BUT, we shouldn’t even be thinking that far ahead…stay focused on current situation with our clear message.

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    • Thanks Karen. It has been and continues to be a frustrating process when working with the U staff on this issue. We are unclear of the intentions of the U planning team but we do believe that the President and the Regents are reasonable, thoughtful people. Having said that, there are multiple strategies we have been using. Some very visible and some not. We need to continue to be engaged with the U on develop projects in neA2. It’s their job to make the right decisions for that site… we agree. However, we believe that sharing our ideas is key to showing the Regents that we support the mission of the University in a way that fits the rhythm of our neighborhood. Because the U staff won’t.

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      • nea2cc, thanks for your response and explanation. I feel confident in your leadership abilities to see this through. I support you/us 100%. I’m more than a tad suspicious of the UM planning committee. `:|

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  2. Pingback: 5/13/16 Progress Report | Northeast A2 Community Coalition

  3. Pingback: Bus Yard Project Timeline | Northeast A2 Community Coalition

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