A kiosk in downtown Ypsi

reg_queens_munAll this impassioned talk about street art and vandalism got me thinking about about what channels we give our citizens – especially our younger citizens – to express themselves. As posting flyers in town is illegal, there aren’t many options… at least legal ones.

There’s no place to post a flyer about an upcoming show. There’s no place to put something up saying that your band is looking for a drummer. There’s no place to advertise studio space. Sure, we have the internet, but it isn’t sufficient. And the internet doesn’t encourage people to get outside, walk the streets, and build community. If we really want to nurture a vibrant pedestrian culture in Ypsi, we need a real physical place for people to share information and communicate with one another.

So, what about constructing a kiosk somewhere downtown?

And I realize that a kiosk or two wouldn’t eliminate graffiti. But, at the same time, it certainly couldn’t hurt. So here’s what I’m suggesting… We organize a committee to build a kiosk out of salvaged materials and place it downtown. If we can’t find a place in downtown proper, I say we ask permission to place a temporary kiosk on the Water Street property.

And, for what it’s worth, erecting kiosks was one of the major recommendations of the Mayor’s 2020 Task Force on the future of Ypsilanti, so I imagine there would be some degree of support from the administration, especially if we could get a group of business owners and the like dedicated to maintaining it.

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36 Comments

  1. Brackinald Achery
    Posted March 26, 2009 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    In the meantime, we could staple stuff to Kircher’s houses. Just as a transition.

  2. Ol' E Cross
    Posted March 26, 2009 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    I very much like the idea of kiosks, although not to divert certain subversive and/or juvenile expressions (although they’d be welcomed), but to add a place for community notification and interaction.

    I’m not one to harp on past decisions, and the attractive receptacles have their function, but if we live in a town that can afford to barricade dumpsters I think we can afford to find room for a few more stone phalli.

    I lend my aggressive support to the idea.

  3. Posted March 27, 2009 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    I like the idea of using the Kircher houses. Brilliant.

    And you’re right, OEC, I wouldn’t approach this as being a way to deal with graffiti. That would not be the main intent. These kiosks would have a purpose completely independent of that.

  4. Posted March 27, 2009 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Why put something more on the government to do – this is something the various coffeeshops and restaurants might WANT to provide (or already do in some cases) as a way to attract customers.

  5. Posted March 27, 2009 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    As for Mr. Kircher’s houses, potential posters should be aware that the folks he has maintaining his properties have been quick to take care of problems (for example, his houses were almost always the first on our block with clear sidewalks after snowfalls this past winter).

  6. Walter Street
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    DR,

    I’m guessing y0u don’t live next to a few of said houses; talk about some choice real estate! I’m never quite sure if people are living there or not though at least every once in awhile someone boards up a window or a new condemned sign goes up.

    also, bombadills and the mug have space for public notices etc but it still isn’t the same as something out in the public (not everyone is a coffee fiend) and mm did mention getting businesses on board for maintenance.

  7. amused1
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    I think it could be a great multi-stage idea. First, have a design contest and pick maybe 2 or 3 different types of kiosks. No single design is perfect for every potential venue. Some key considerations could be to make the design: low cost, highly functional, durable, eco-friendly, easily maintained and esthetically pleasing. Sounds like a great challenge for a design contest to me.

    Stage 2 would be a construction event. Maybe in conjunction with the Crossroads series or a function like the art contests they do at the CB?

    Stage 3 would be the installment weekend. Work with local businesses to put together a coupon sheet to be handed out to all who attend. Get organizations like the Jaycees, NA’s, business groups and others to make it a celebratory event.

    Coordinate with neighborhood associations for ongoing maintenance.

    And really, couldn’t be corporate sponsorship? If a company sponsors a kiosk there could be a header that says, “Such and Such company welcomes you to Ypsilanti” That way they could either write it off as a donation or as an advertising cost.

  8. Paw
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Designated Republican, do you ever read what’s written here? Where did anyone say that “government” should build the kiosk?

    Is there room for one downtown proper? While I like the idea of using Water Street for something positive, I think it’s too far off the beaten path to be useful.

  9. BrianR
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    The Downtown Association of Ypsilanti has been working on a kiosk in conjuction with the EMU construction club. A design already exists, and a prototype is being pursued pending funding. This was presented to the Downtown DDA in January.

    If you want to be involved, I’d suggest coming to the DAY meeting in April.

  10. Posted March 27, 2009 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Paw,

    If the kiosk is on public property, City Hall (including the DDA) is involved – and if the city is involved, they are going to be at least concerned about long-term maintenance issues.

    As for Mr. Kircher, I am intimately aware of where his properties are located ON MY STREET (a half-dozen or so of them total). That’s why I can speak with knowledge about what I’ve seen from the crew who is maintaining them.

    When it comes to “public kiosks,” the design is far less important than a carefully prepared “operation plan.” Define who specifically will maintain the kiosk and promptly clean up messes, repair damage, and remove old notices and those that violate posting policies. This plan should also include a funding mechanism for future maintenance.

    Typically, such “public” kiosks become an eyesore with out-of-date information, unless a vigorous and continuing means of maintenance is put in place.

    Why go to that trouble when local businesses have a vested financial interest in providing (and maintaining) this kind of community service as a means to attract customers……

  11. Glen S.
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Kircher’s blighted properties have been a stain on Ypsilanti and its reputation for as long as many can remember. I cannot believe that anyone here would seriously defend his reputation as a landlord.

  12. Posted March 27, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Great idea!

  13. Posted March 27, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Glen,

    It’s great to hear from you – it’s been awhile since I’ve read your special brand of straight talk. If you consider writing objectively about what I’ve witnessed from the crew maintaining Mr. Kircher’s properties, then I must be guilty as charged in your eyes. I’m just reporting what I’ve seen from my front porch and on my walks around the neighborhood – I would leave it to others to form their own opinions….

  14. Posted March 27, 2009 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t that guy in jail?

  15. Daniel
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Dude: that “dude” is in PRISON…

  16. Posted March 27, 2009 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    It is a nice night for a campfire in Ypsilanti.

  17. walter street
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    I know its a tad off topic but I suppose I’ll half agree with DR. While Kircher’s properties are still hands down the saddest looking houses in the campus area they have improved a bit since he went away. Now i wouldn’t go shoveling out lavish praise just yet but at least some of the larger piles of trash have been removed from the yard and i haven’t seen the hooker deliver to them in months now.

  18. amused1
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Walter street “haven’t seen the hooker deliver to them in months now.’ talk about damning with faint praise.

  19. dragon
    Posted March 28, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Kircher (douchebag #1)
    Glad he has dudes shoveling his walks.
    If his property next to me weren’t brick…

    A Ypsilanti landlord will spend the next five years in prison for illegally pumping raw sewage into the Huron River.

    David Kircher was sent to prison this week after the Michigan Court of Appeals denied his case.

    The 66-year-old landlord of the Eastern Highland Apartment complex was sentenced in 2006 to five years prison and $1 million fine. He posted the bail and remained free until this week. Kircher was found guilty of knowingly pumping raw sewage from his 168-unit apartment complex in Ypsilanti Township.

  20. Posted March 29, 2009 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    DR has a way of overlooking those kinds of unimportant indiscretions. It’s part of his “optimistic outlook” that he borrowed from Reagan.

  21. Chelsea
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    >>>There’s no place to post a flyer about an upcoming show. There’s no place to put something up saying that your band is looking for a drummer.<<<

    A town Web site could answer this need, literally quite neatly.

  22. galan
    Posted March 29, 2009 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Kiosks were mentioned by the 2020 Task Force in their report. There were pictures of a free-standing touch screen thing (looked a bit like a newspaper holder in size) about waist high with the touch screen on top. the screen itself was slightly larger than a computer screen. You could touch prompts which would bring up local weather, events, restaurants, types of stores etc. Advertising by local entities on the side. Meant to be located in various places like the library, the Freighthouse etc. I saw another option which was a large flatscreen TV in a building far enough overhead to be out of the way. There were prompts on the wall below it similar to the ones the 2020 Task Force pictures displayed. Touch the prompt on the wall and the information appeared on the screen overhead. So, the fliers would be scanned into the database and displayed on the screen…whatever.
    As for actual hard copy fliers, I see lots around town in coffee shops and various other places where people gather.

  23. Posted March 30, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    dude,

    I haven’t overlooked anything when it comes to David Kircher. All I did was respond to the snarky comment about using his buildings as notice boards by noting that someone actually is maintaining his properties these days (in case no one had noticed!).

  24. Posted March 30, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I remember someone suggesting kiosks in Ypsi for or five years ago. Oh right, that was me.

  25. Brackinald Achery
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    There’s just no reward for being right way before everyone else is. All the grief, none of the pay off.

  26. Andy C
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    “a free-standing touch screen thing”?
    That was a serious idea?
    Please do it so I can tape a flier to the screen.

    “a town website”?
    So we can all sit on our asses and see what we could be doing if we ever got up.

    I’m shaking my head. Why can’t we be a normal town!?!?
    I’m done ever reading comments on this site again.
    You commenter’s have jumped the shark.

    DR, aka RN. You didn’t like Dave Kircher so much when his house two doors down from your was hoping with crack and prostitutes.

    See you all on the streets.

  27. Posted March 30, 2009 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    This electronic kiosk idea is stupid.

  28. Ol' E Cross
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    No disrespect to the 20/20 volunteers, but I too, recoil at the idea of electronic kiosks. I have to concur fully with Andy C and regrettably with the dude. I’m usually reticent of his abrasive brevity, but I can’t find anyway better to say it:

    This electronic kiosk idea is stupid.

    Actually, I could find better ways to say it, but I’m self-censoring. I don’t want to out-dude the dude.

  29. Posted March 31, 2009 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Uhhh, for what it’s worth, not all the 2020 folks thought that electronic kiosks were the way to go… I’m just saying…

  30. Posted March 31, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Andy C.,

    I still don’t like that Dave’s place turned into a drugstore for awhile. I’m not defending poor rental decisions. As I recall, though, he wasn’t happy either, and he cooperated with the police to resolve the problem.

    Why is it that a simple observation that he’s got crews taking decent care of his properties makes me into a shill? It doesn’t. I also have to ask (way off topic though it is)… Why are you complaining about the improved maintenance efforts? I like it, just as I like that Dave was making better tenant choices in recent years.

  31. Posted March 31, 2009 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Oh, my kiosk idea was simply places for people to staple fliers legally. I’d like to distance myself from the computerized nonsense.

  32. Paw
    Posted March 31, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Cherry lobbied for a tiny robot, “like Twiki from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”. I distinctly remember him saying that it would pay for itself with advertising. Every fifteen minutes, he wanted it to grab someone and yell, “For God’s sake, please eat at our Mongolian restaurant.”

  33. Paw
    Posted March 31, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I used to see Kircher working on homes that weren’t even his. He had more civic pride in one of his fingers than all the citizens of Normal Park together. The man could walk on water. (That’s probably because it was full off poop, though.)

  34. Ol' E Cross
    Posted March 31, 2009 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    DesRepub. I can honestly agree that Kircher’s sidewalks are in far better condition now that he’s in prison. (Does anyone know if that’s his doing or if it’s court mandated?)

    However, I don’t think sidewalks and grass constitute taking care of properties. The one pass the most now has a foundation with gaping hole and shingles blowing off the roof. I haven’t seen anyone touch the actual building in months.

  35. Posted April 1, 2009 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    If it’s the one on E. Cross behind the Thompson Block, that has some special legal issues associated with it that entangled maintenance and repairs, as I understand things. You might call 107 E Cross the poster child for why former Mayor Farmer’s politicized ordinance enforcement was a bad idea. Of course, the STILL vacant and unrenovated Thompson Block itself could also be a poster child for that mess too.

  36. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 1, 2009 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Nope. Not that one. Guess again.

    More seriously, have you seen anyone doing actual improvements to physical structures?

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