the ypsi-emu alliance gains traction in their fight to save college place

City Council met last night, and EMU’s plan to close College Place was on the agenda. As we’ve discussed it here before, I thought that you might be interested in an update. The following run down comes from EMU Professor of History Mark Higbee, one of the more outspoken opponents of the plan to turn the much-used street into a pedestrian mall (with his permission):

It went really well. Half a dozen or more members of the public spoke against the idea of closing College Place, during the public hearing, and no one spoke it favor of it. Council members then responded in detail, critiquing the idea of closing College Place, and also objecting to the apparent one-sided terms of the leases (the Washington St parking lot for College Place, 99 years, $1 a year….)

Steve Pierce, Brian Robb and Kathleen Conat were among the speakers, as was a rep from EMU student govt. We all hit hard. Barbara Hale, a very long time resident of the area, spoke against it, and cited concerns over traffic and emergency vehicle access.

The City Manager said he thought that the “second reading” of the ordinance should be held in late May 2007. (Mayor) Farmer then asked if there was any reason to be having the first reading then in the first place. Everyone agreed that there was not. And, instead of it being voted on, as was planned, the matter was tabled. (It) could be brought up again, and probably will in some revised form, but this is a clear victory for the community & for students. (Passing city ordinances requires two “readings” of the proposed legislation, with a vote at each reading, so this is a real setback for the plan… This was to have been the first reading.)

I think all but one member of Council present last night spoke against the plan, and the other one said nothing in favor of it… The ordinance was faulted for not being well drafted, and on the grounds that EMU wasn’t giving the city much in return for the lease exchange.

Strangely, there was no EMU official there at all… My sources indicate that they were overly confident of city govt. just rubber stamping this.

The Ypsi-EMU Alliance believes that now is the time for EMU to reconsider this plan, and to come up with a new one, in consultation with the community, that does NOT involve any closing of College Place to traffic, but does improve the area. If EMU is unwilling to do that, the Alliance may well lobby against the grant being made by MDOT to EMU & the city.

The Alliance has asked (EMU) Pres. Fallon to discuss the matter privately, with a view toward finding a “win-win” before further protests become inevitable. I hope to hear back from him soon.

Tues was a great night for America & Michigan, and I think Wed. was a very good night for Ypsi & EMU.

Representative government…what a good idea it is!

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4 Comments

  1. Mark Higbee
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    EMU long ago quietly dropped the clearly ill advised, if not insane, attempt to close the public street College Place north of Cross Street, to replace it with a “pedestrian mall.” This plan would have cost over a million bucks, and reduced parking and made it harder for people from the town to get into campus – as well as making it harder for people to get from campus to, say, Depot Town.

    Now here’s the good news: The street will be repaved, new pipes and all put in underground, and new amenities like decent cross walks added. These undertakings are joint tasks of the city of Ypsilanti, the YCUA utility agency, and EMU. I’ve seen the sketches for these plans, and they look good. It’ll be a major improvement in the area’s looks and use value — and it will turn the main entrance to the EMU campus into a nice little drive, instead of the pot hole filled drag that it became during the long period in which now long departed EMU officials (Kirkpatrick, Holda, Fallon, Vick and a few other equally dishonest & incompetent disgraced officials) sought to replace one of the city’s busiest local streets with a bunch of grass. Those officials never could even grasp the importance of Pease Auditorium and its location on College Place to plans to close College Place to traffic. (Rumors that some of these men are now in jail haven’t been confirmed; that they all should be is a moral certainty.)

    I praise EMU’s new chief of operations, John Donegan, for seeing the need to fix the street, and to keep it as a street. My understanding is that the construction and repaving should start in the next month or so, and be completed this summer. This is a case of late being far better than never!

  2. Posted April 11, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    What’s this about rumors that former EMU officials are now in jail? Are there really such rumors about?

  3. Mark Higbee
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, Mark, these “rumors” I alluded to are more sardonic comments, often heard, about what would be just for the officials I named in my prior comment. Their real crimes were things far worse than the nutty plan to close College Place.

  4. Jim L.
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    I like grass.

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