Was Ypsi City Council right to take the parks away from the DTCDC?

A reader of this site calling himself Andy Ypsilanti recently left the following letter to the Mayor and City Council in the comments section and I thought that I’d move it up here, as we’ve yet to really discuss whether or not the recent move by City Council to strip control of Riverside and Frog Island parks from the Depot Town Community Development Corporation (DTCD) was in the City’s best interests.

For those of you who are new to this issue, the City, in an effort to save money, gave over control of the parks to the DTCDC a year or so ago. According to the agreement, the DTCDC, a non-profit entity not funded by the City, was to be responsible for maintenance, as well as the booking of events, saving the City approximately $22,000 a year. As I understand it, reviews of their stewardship were mixed. I’ve heard some complain about maintenance under their watch. I’ve heard others, however, saying very complimentary things, for instance, about their work to see the structure jutting out into the Huron River (I don’t know what to call it… “dock” doesn’t seem quite right) rebuilt.

I don’t know what folks on City Council thought about the arrangement earlier in the summer – there could have already been a movement underway to see the control of the parks taken from the DTCDC – but clearly the straw that broke the camel’s back was this whole “Ypsitucky” fiasco. As I understand it, certain members of Council felt as though the Director of the DTCDC acted in bad faith – telling them that he planned to change the name of the event to something less controversial (and, yes, apparently some found the word “Ypsitucky” controversial), and then later refusing to do so. And, as the City had no recourse in the matter, it not being their job to oversee the naming of events to be held in the parks, it looked as though the DTCDC might get its way. But then councilman Brian Robb had the idea to revoke the underlying contract and take the parks back from the DTCDC. And, of course, at that point, the DTCDC backed down, dropping the dreadfully offensive “tucky” suffix, opting to call the event simply “The Jamboree” instead. But, it would seem, Robb and City Council aren’t just taking the “tucky” victory and leaving it at that. They’re not backing down on their threat to take back control of the parks… As I understand it, they’ve already put the local Jaycee’s in charge of booking events, and maintenance tasks, such as mowing and garbage pickup, have been taken on by the City again… At any rate, here’s Andy’s letter to the City Council.

Mr. Mayor and Council,

I am writing in regards to Resolution No. 2009-106B, the termination of the Contract with the DTCDC to operate Riverside and Frog Island Parks. The 45-day notice given to the DTCDC expires this month, and control of the parks will revert to the city. I would first like to again express my disappointment in council’s actions in this matter. While there was mention of issues with the DTCDC in their operation of the parks, I do not believe that this action was taken in good faith by the city. The one and only reason that the DTCDC was being discussed in council that evening was because of the use of the word “Ypsitucky” in relation to the music festival being held in the park. The very fact that this issue was allowed to come before council was unsettling. That the result of the “Ypsitucky” debate was the termination of the DTCDC contract is shameful. If the contract with the DTCDC was to be terminated, it should have been presented as a separate issue before council and fair warning of such action should have been given to the DTCDC to prepare a response to the accusations leveled against them. At the very least, this action by council appears to be under-handed and spiteful.

The termination of this contract is particularly troubling against the backdrop of Ypsilanti’s shrinking budget. The $22,000 set aside for Riverside and Frog Island parks was originally earmarked by the city manager’s office for audio/visual equipment for council chambers. This represents a onetime expense, which begs the question: where do we get the money for the parks budget for the future? With city service already being cut due to budget constraints, what will we cut next to balance the books? Police? Fire? Roads? Bus service? Or will we just raise our already high taxes? While $22,000 represents a small part of the city budget, it is money that is desperately needed elsewhere.

I am not intending to paint the DTCDC as blameless. There are certainly seemed to be issues to be addressed in regards to their operation of the parks. But, instead of working together with the DTCDC, council has chosen to cut the cord all together. I do not believe this to be a fiscally sound decision, and I urge all parties to come back to the table to develop a solution to these problems, not create another financial burden on the city at a time when we cannot afford it.

In addition to this, there were quite a few other comments in the thread that I think you might find of interest. Here, to prime the pump, is one from Ypsi resident Kate Conat:

The DTCDC had done things to improve the parks, including having the pavilion out over the river rebuilt after city neglect made it more than a little dangerous. Council’s terminating the contract is nothing more than pettiness – and it’s another expense to add back on the city’s already stretched funds. Mr. Murdock, you know I backed you and Mr. Bodary when you ran for Council this last time, but I’m beginning to regret my support. This picayune squabbling is beneath the both of you. It’s time to refocus on your goals – which should put the survival of Ypsilanti way ahead of personality clashes and pettiness.

As for the other, larger issues, I’d like to make a suggestion: why not have the Mayor and City Councilpersons forego their annual stipends while we’re in these straits. In addition, have the City Manager’s salary no higher than the average salary of Ypsilanti city residents. I know those figures are around somewhere. Perhaps, if these measures were taken, we citizens might believe you really were elected to serve, not air your frivolous and irrelevant differences at the expense of the city coffers. And the city manager might hasten his plans for retirement, instead of hanging around waiting for even further benefits to kick in.

In other words, I and a bunch of others elected you in the hopes we’d see some effective changes. Instead, we’ve seen an escalation of the same piddling bickering we got before. We. Have. Had. Enough.

Robb and members of City Council have said publicly that they have the $22,000 required for the maintenance of the parks this year – given the decision not to purchase audio/visual equipment for Council chambers, as was mentioned above – but it’s unclear to me how things next year will be any different than they were before. And that, I think, gets to the heart of the matter. If we don’t think we’ll have the $22,000 each year from now on, I don’t see how this new arrangement is tenable… Unless, of course, Robb and company have in mind to give control of the parks to another entity, like the Downtown Association of Ypsilanti (DAY), which I suppose is possible.

The bottom line is, if there were issues with the DTCDC’s management of the parks, they should have been given an opportunity to respond. As it is, this looks like nothing more than petty retribution over a ridiculous name that some extremely small number of citizens found vaguely offensive. Maybe that, in and of itself, wouldn’t be so bad, but this is a decision that’s going to cost us, the Ypsi taxpayers, $22,000 a year going forward. Here we had a community organization willing to do it, for free, at no cost to the the taxpayers, and, because a few people got their noses bent out of shape over a young organization’s pro-“tucky” audacity, we’re going to end up cutting programs and personnel elsewhere. At least that’s how all of this looks from the outside. It looks like petty political retribution. And, it’s an embarrassment.

Oh, and the next time you’re wondering how your tax dollars are being spent, I’ve got something good for you to think about. According to the most recent City Council packet, the City Attorney is claiming to have spent 17.25 hours of his time addressing the absolutely critical “Ypsitucky” issue.

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61 Comments

  1. Brackinald Achery
    Posted July 5, 2009 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Great time to buy a house or start a business in Ypsi,

    and be beholden to Ypsi City Government…

    FOREVER!!!

  2. Justin Case
    Posted July 5, 2009 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if there is anyone on here who considers themselves an expert in legal opinions, but it seems to me that the Ypsitucky debate wouldn’t warrant any type of breach of contract on the DTCDC’s end, so the council should not have legally been able to revoke the contract unless there was some type of opt out in it. Does anyone know of a copy of the contract online? If what the council did was legally unwarranted, the DTCDC or someone else might be able to take this to court if the council wont reconsider.

  3. Mike want longr name
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    I still think the bigger question is the legality of the take-back. Did the contract really stipulate that council could break the contract for any reason they wanted? Or was it just the whole “government has a legal monopoly on violence and will do what it wants” thing?

    And can someone who knows this off the top of their head please list again which council members voted to take the parks back?

    All I really bothered finding out about her at the time was that she didn’t think she needed a website to run for mayor, but maybe we should have elected Lois Richardson.

  4. Brackinald Achery
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    I think that’s exactly why certain members of the council went out of their way to try to distance the nonrenewal of the contract from the Ypsitucky fiasco. I surmise that they had a potential legal dispute on the brain.

    The idea seems to have been to show ’em (the DTCDC) who’s boss by not renewing their contract, saying it had nothing to do with the Ypsitucky thing for legal reasons, strongly implying that if the DTCDC changed the name they (Council) might reconsider, get them to change the name themselves so they looked like caving douchebags and maybe lose public support for their festival, then really show ’em who’s boss by not renewing the contract anyway.

    That way, Council didn’t force anybody to do anything about the Ypsitucky thing. Even though they obviously did.

    I suspect a deeper motive than just the name Ypsitucky (although not wanting to be associated with hillbillies seemed to be a genuine outrage-causing concern among many folks). More of a long-standing personal problem with the various people involved, and a desire to move some old political boundary stones to aquire power over other people’s jurisdictions.

    The flaw in the plan is that we’re not idiots, and that now our perpetually cash-strapped City has to pay for the parks again to the tune of $20,000+(?) per year. Which means taxpayers have to, since Government has no money of its own.

    All because some overbearing mover/shaker school marms got their panties in a wad about the word “Ypsitucky,” had personal squabbles with the folks involved, and refused to respect other people’s boundaries.

    Seems to me.

  5. Quackenbush
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    It’s all just so very sad. Don’t we all just love Ypsilanti and want it to be the best place it can be? Why is there so much squabbling and infighting?

    The new dock-thing is nice by the way.

  6. Judge Tonry
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Here’s a hint. The attorney’s time wasn’t spent looking into the possibility of lawsuits stemming from having an event called the Ypsitucky Jamboree. He wasn’t looking into the possibility that offended people might sue the city for using such a provocative name. His time was used looking into how to break the contract without getting sued. Assholes, the lot of them.

  7. Susan L
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    The only thing more horrific than having our cash-strapped city pay $22,000 a year needlessly would be giving control of our parks to Steve Pierce, Kevin Hill and the members of DAY. If I were a Depot Town merchant, I’d be out for blood. This after all is the work of their councilman – Brian Robb.

  8. Candace
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    ***Per Mike want longr name: ‘And can someone who knows this off the top of their head please list again which council members voted to take the parks back?’****

    Bill Nickels, Mike Bodary, Brian Robb & Pete Murdock.

    Lois and Paul voted to keep the contract.

  9. jorj
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    The only thing more horrific than having our cash-strapped city pay $22,000 a year needlessly would be giving control of our parks to Steve Pierce, Kevin Hill and the members of DAY. If I were a Depot Town merchant, I’d be out for blood. This after all is the work of their councilman – Brian Robb.

    So what do we do to really oppose these guys in a way that’ll keep them from being able to pull off such political coups ever again? How do we hit ’em where it hurts and win?

  10. jorj
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Legally.

  11. Oliva
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    (I wonder how much the city attorney charged for the Shovelgate mess too–from the original efforts to claim things were on the up and up to the council meeting and the follow-up letters.)

    Seems that much air has to be cleared and better sooner than later–with Pete M., Brian R.’s been upsetting lots of people, many of whom we all count on to make this a better place. It’s the oddest approach to leadership, as if those two are in a fight with their constituents and are hellbent on winning, as if they have disdain for many of those they represent. Both seem to be fueling anger (even here at Mark’s blog) rather than working toward fruitful compromise by way of civil discourse. Why? Even in the parade they looked bored and mad that they had to be there. Wasn’t it supposed to be a celebration?

    Any chance we can begin to clear the air and switch things so we feel like our council members respect, work for, are concerned about, us, their constituents? We’ve got too much potential despite difficult times to be pulled down by petty politics and untamed personal biases.

  12. Tee
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Could we recall of our 3rd ward reps?

  13. publius
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I talked to Brian Robb and came away from the conversation believing he was thoughtful and interested in the best welfare of the city. I clearly overestimated him. I read today that he slammed the proposed choices for the new DDA director as being too “old”. He just had to criticize the mayor so he impugnes all the indidivuals that potentially could run the DDA. That should make for a comfortable working relationship. Not to mention insulting any seniors in his district. Age discrimination is an ugly attitude. What a prick!

  14. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    If anyone was wondering, yes, I did send the letter Mark posted to every member of council and the mayor. I’d like to think that it would go further that way than just posting it here, but who knows….

  15. What's In a Name
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Publius,

    Robb dissed the selections for the new DDA board, not the Director. They haven’t even begun the process of thinking about, let alone putting out a job description, for the new DDA Director. And Robb has never been a friend, nor liked, the DDAs.

    I believe Robb’s reference to age was the fact that there are no young business owners on the DDA board. I think that stems from the fact that 1. They’re too busy doing other things that truly are changing the city (ie James Marks), 2. After the force out of the Director many young business owners don’t want to be working with other board members who are idiots, 3. The only young person who was on either of the DDA boards was Stewart Beal and we’ve seen what kind of person he is first hand on this blog. Hats off to the Mayor for not selecting him for the new DDA board.

    If anyone thinks the DAY could run Riverside & Frog Island parks, you’re on another planet. They can’t even figure out how to fund their Crossroads music thing without asking the DDA to completely fund the entire year’s events. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg with them.

  16. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Oh, also, the DTCDC is not calling it quits with the loss of the parks contract. They plan to continue supporting and improving the parks in any way they can. Including the Jamboree

  17. Candace
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Per Publius ‘ I clearly overestimated him. I read today that he slammed the proposed choices for the new DDA director as being too “old”. ‘

    The sad thing is one of those folks is only 41 – Dear Heavens – SO old. and many others are younger than 50. I admit, as a soon-to-be 41 year old I was ‘quite’ offended that a Councilman would make such a derogatory statement.

    Course, on the other hand …. the whole ‘Ypsi Eats its Young Attitude – which was pretty evident during Ypsitucky Jamboree ‘discussion’ could have something to do with young folks not ‘wanting’ to continue to be part of such chaos.

    and, lastly, I feel the same way as Oliva ‘It’s the oddest approach to leadership, as if those two are in a fight with their constituents and are hellbent on winning, as if they have disdain for many of those they represent. ‘.

    I never imagined elected officials behaving in such a negative way towards their constituents and other leaders of the community.

    Frankly, it surprises the hell out of me. It has also made me lose faith in our leaders – which breaks my heart.

    To me, if you get ‘elected’ your job is to suck up what the ‘people’ want – not your own agenda – and take it like a man. You don’t get the privelege of behaving badly, yelling at tax-payers in public forums or making poor choices without having the decency to ‘check in’ with your voters.

    It is an easy thing to do. I have seen surveys come around from the Ypsi City List and even the Senior Center last week. Why can’t we utilize our own email list and send out polls to see what the voters ‘actually’ want.

    Just because you get elected to an office doesn’t mean you only get to roll with your own personal agenda – no matter how it affects the people who voted you in.

  18. sick of this.
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    We need to take a step away from the political cacophony is distracting us from seeing that this whole situation is about the CDC finally being held accountable for failing to perform. Evoking the contract for the parks had NOTHING to do with The Jamboree. The reasons the parks were taken away from the CDC were both obvious and valid.

    First, it has become clear that the CDC was not doing the job they were hired to do. Did they take care of the trash situation in the parks without needing to be reminded? No. Did they book enough new festivals to warrant someone being paid $40,000 to take care of the details of said festivals? No. (Since when do we live in a city wealthy enough to pay someone $40,000 to book two events? As far as I can tell, the CDC has only brought us Elvis Fest and The Jamboree, the latter probably causing more bad blood within the city than revenue for the parks.) Many of the festivals that occur in the parks now have been happening for years- long before the CDC ever came into the picture…

    So what exactly can they be credited as doing for the parks? Fixing up the dock? I thought the WCC had almost everything to do with that. Plus, didn’t the city still have to pay for part of the project?

    Secondly, where is the money collected by the CDC going? We know that $4,000 of CDC money went to LUNCHES. According to 3 minutes worth of research, we could have bought 20 new park benches with that money
    (http://www.globalindustrial.com/gcs/prod/30148062/i/productInfo.web?utm_source=google_pr&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Benches-google_pr&infoParam.campaignId=T9F)

    OR a really neat place for our kids to play…

    (http://www.swingwarehouse.com/commercial-playsets/thomas-mega-series).

    Instead, the money was probably spent discussing 1) cutting grass 2) having someone else fix the dock 3) picking up the trash and 4) the meaning of the word TUCKEY- over lunch with…whom? I doubt the CDC was lunching with major festival promoters, trying to get big money making events into the park… or maybe they were and they just failed there as well.

    I keep hearing that the goal of hiring the CDC was to save the city $22,000. As a tax payer, I would like to know how much money the city actually saved by giving the parks to the CDC. Doesn’t the money from the festivals pay for the grass cutting and trash pick-up and then some? If so, how did Ypsi save money?

    The CDC has done little to no reporting on their (ahem) successes and thus we, as a community, are unable to gauge their progress. Who is holding the CDC accountable for the continued development or the park? Anyone? Did we just hand them the park and say, ‘oh, we trust that will do a great job, can’t wait to see what color you paint the pavilion’? It sure seems that way.

    In the end, the parks needed to be returned to the city and to the taxpayers. We gave the CDC a shot and they blew it. They have taken little to no initiative in making the parks cleaner, cooler or more economically beneficial. What they have done brilliantly is become an extraordinarily divisive force within the community. The taxpayers of this city should be annoyed at the very least, I know I am.

    To say that this conversation stinks of entrenched politics as usual is to state the obvious. The discussion taking place here isn’t about the parks or the people of Ypsilanti at all! It is about a small group of power seeking people who are engaged in a pissing contest that will be the eventual downfall of this city…unless there a drastic change in how we, as a community, engage in dialog.

    It is troubling to see the conversation concerning the CDC go down the road it has. Since when has this blog become the best (worst?) seat in the house to watch the political wrangling and deception that continues to keep this city in a stalemate of continuous failure? I am beginning to wonder if the CDC is not Mark’s newest source of advertising income. Apparently no one is free from the political manipulation for which the founder of the CDC is notorious.

  19. Brackinald Achery
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Fail.

  20. Brackinald Achery
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    To say that this conversation stinks of entrenched politics as usual is to state the obvious. The discussion taking place here isn’t about the parks or the people of Ypsilanti at all! It is about a small group of power seeking people who are engaged in a pissing contest that will be the eventual downfall of this city…unless there a drastic change in how we, as a community, engage in dialog.

    Look to thyselves, jackasses. You started it.

  21. Andy
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    From: Rick Lack
    Sent: Friday, June 26, 2009 12:45 PM
    To: ‘satswanson@hotmail.com’; ‘comloiserich@hotmail.com’; ‘mbodary@cityofypsilanti.com’; ‘kbnickels@aol.com’; ‘pmurdock@cityofypsilanti.com’; ‘brobb@cityofypsilanti.com’
    Subject: Support for Depot Town CDC

    Dear distinguished council members-

    My name is Rick Lack … I am the Exec. Vice President of Rave Associates … and Ann Arbor based wholesaler whom is deeply entrenched into the sale of Beer and Wine to multiple establishments within the great city of Ypsilanti. I want to express to you my great concern over some of the decisions you folks are making regarding the work of the Depot Town CDC- and in particular the work that the French’s are doing down there. To strip them of any authority, and involvement of the Frog Island park area is a catastrophic error for many reasons.

    First off, the great work they have done and are doing of driving business to Ypsilanti … how can that be forgotten, or thrown aside based on a dispute over the name of a festival that is offensive to some? Solve your differences, express your disdain for the name that offended some of you … but do not allow emotion to lead to bad financial decisions that will affect the income and commerce of your constituents. There is a whole lot at stake relative to the Michigan Summer Beer Festival and the potential lost dollars to your community. Your constituents would be less than pleased to know the cost ramifications of losing business over a squabble over a name. That just seems like bad politics to an outsider like myself. Whom, which by the way managed the Busch’s store at Ellsworth and Hewitt years ago and lived briefly in your town.

    The reason for me in pointing this out is the timing could not occur at a more inopportune moment. I have been meeting with the French’s and several other retailers such as the Gref’s concerning our intentions of growing the Michigan Summer Beer Festival you host each July into something far bigger and greater. This traditional two day festival has now being organized into a weeklong event this year. Ypsilanti retailers are in competition with Ann Arbor for the first ever Michigan Beer Cup which will drive Michigan beer consumers and beer clubs into your town whom never would have been there if not for this expansion. Our long term goal is to have this event rival some of the biggest beer festivals in the country … similar to Philly Beer Week (Google it). Can you imagine the quantity of people this will drive to your town filling your hotels and frequenting your shopping districts? From around the country no less … the Michigan Brewing industry is recognized nationwide for its greatness.

    The reasoning behind these efforts is that other Michigan towns are vying for your summer festival. We felt a sense of urgency to better expose the event and drive more outside resources from the outside into your town to support week long events. Hence, my concern for the timing of your squabble over the name of a music festival. Again, I implore you to re-consider your stance towards the Depot Town CDC. Exclusion makes no sense for a bunch of reasons ….

    Respectfully- Rick Lack.

  22. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Sick of it,
    I think this may be about the 20th time I’ve said this on this site alone, but again, no, the DTCDC is not perfect. But if the cancelation of their contract with the city had nothing to do with the Jamboree and only had to do with the CDC’s performance, then why was it not brought to council as a seperate issue? To just switch tracks from the name of a festival to the nuts and bolts issue of a city contract at the very least gives the appearence of foul play. If this action was going to be taken, shouldn’t it have been done in the light of day? If it had, we may not even be having this discussion. But it wasn’t. It was handled back door, and so now the reasoning behind it is open to conjecture.

    You also object to the way the DTCDC spends it’s money. But it is money they have raised, not our tax money. Yes, they pay a director. They buy people lunches. Show me an effective non-profit that doesn’t. It’s how the buisness of charity it done in our country. As for what they have brought to the table, I don’t think adding two major events is bad for the first year. As for the dock, while I am still researching the point, it is my understanding that the city was on the hook for this as part of a state grant. I’ve been reading city council packets in my spare time, and my most recent reading suggests this is the case. As for the issue of $22,ooo? Does this include costs to the city clerk’s office to manage events? Yes, the Jaycee’s will run them, but who takes care of the paperwork? When you really start to think about it, the amounts of money could be much higher.

    As for you suggesting that all this is petty political bickering? Judging from your post, this is the pot calling the kettle black. The only reason there has been bad blood over The Jamboree is because some people felt the need to act as the fun police and say “Ypsitucky” is a bad word. I have spoken to people around the state and country about this, and nearly all people outside of Ypsi want to know who would make such a big deal out a single word and make the city seem so petty. But I thought that was behind us. Apparently, not for all of us.

    Again, if the DTCDC had been given proper notification and had their stewardship of the parks been brought before council as it’s own issue, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. But is wasn’t. For those of us who want to see good things happen for our city regardless of politics and who likes what, this whole thing reeks of the city’s usual partisan, east-west, depot town – downtown, political bickering. We never got the chance to hear about this issue, in support or opposition. We were never given the chance to hear what the oposition or the DTCDC had to say. We were never given the chance to wiegh in or consider the issues. And it’s getting old.

    For the record, I have not recieved a response to my letter from anyone in our city government, and it was sent to the Mayor and all members of council Friday. And now it’s here. Unless one of these posts was written by a member of city government using a screen name. My letter to council was sent using my real name and real address, and if you look a little, you’ll find that with my screen name here, it’s not too hard to track me down and figure out who I am. Brian R. has in the past, and I had a great conversation with him. We may not see eye to eye on everything, but at least we talked civily about the issues.

    Last thing. I posted my letter to council here in the city budget thread to remind everyone there is an issue at hand, and Mark saw fit to turn it into a thread. How does that automaticly means he’s beholden to them for oppening a discussion? Just like the way the DTCDC was handled in council, that statement at least makes it look like we’re afraid to have an open and honest discussion of the issues. And that’s what this is all about.

  23. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and to hit on a point from the letter written to council and the mayor by Rick Lack and posted here by another Andy, the DTCDC can promote our city in a way that the city government does not have the time or resources to do. That is why you pay a director and take people out to lunch…

  24. Kate Conat
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Hey, Mark: if you’re going to quote me, try to spell my name correctly, please. :-)

    This thread strays from the one on which I originally commented, but let’s deal with some of the issues raised here. Obviously, several of you are fine with the “Ypsitucky” name and think it’s only a small group of old fogies who were upset. Well, that’s not entirely true. The old fogies were just more vocal about it than some of us. Of course, maybe most of you don’t care to understand why those people were upset, because if you don’t know the history it’s so easy to dismiss their reactions. But, maybe if you were halfway sensitive people, you’d appreciate that no one likes to be called names with bad connotations – and “Ypsitucky” has had a bad connotation for over 60 years.

    Yes, I’ve heard the arguments that if it was used for this jamboree people would put a more positive spin on it, but you can’t guarantee that. And your callous indifference toward those who are hurt by the word is as bad as if you were trying to approve the N-word and attempting to get the NAACP to support your efforts. Ain’t gonna happen.

    So, I was not surprised when City Council voted to terminate the contract. It took something like that for the DTCDC and others to sit up and take notice, which is both a sad commentary on the DTCDC’s members’ sense of community and your ability to play well with others. It also put Council in the position of being a parent and chastising the unruly child – something that shouldn’t have had to happen.

    That said, Council is now at fault for not reinstating the contract with the DTCDC. The four people who voted to terminate that contract should now magnanimously restore it. They’ve proved their point and it’s time to again try to work cooperatively for the good of the city.

    So, as I see it, both sides are at fault for this issue being still on the table. Both sides are being manipulated by people who like to stir things up, then stand back and watch the rest rotate. Some people get their jollies that way.

    But, shame on those who allow this to happen. This is a time when Ypsilantians from all areas need to come together if we’re going to survive this depression (calling it as I see it) and move toward better times. Instead, we are allowing small grievances to grow into large ones and losing sight of the big picture by focusing on minutiae we can bicker about. Tearing down is SO much easier than building up.

    But, building up is what needs to happen. Real leaders in this community can steer us in more positive ways and we need that right now. Pete Murdock has the ability to be that leader, if he chooses. I believe Brian Robb, Mike Bodary and Bill Nickels do, too. The question is: can they come together to work for the greater good? That’s a question I don’t have an answer for.

    I also believe there are people involved with the DTCDC who can be leaders. The “Ypsitucky” controversy was a bad misstep, but I think they have a lot to offer. Again, if they can come together with others, including Councilmembers, to find common goals. I’m not so sure that can happen. The manipulation is strong in that organization.

    I realize $22,000 will hardly make or break the city of Ypsilanti. Isn’t it sad, though, that it will be spent on the parks just because some people like to take their balls and go home?

  25. Dirtgrain
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    $22,000 just lying around? Where is Steve Pierce to exclaim, You can’t make this stuff up?

  26. Ypsiman
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmyZFA-XCmY&feature=related

  27. Dirtgrain
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    “. . . maybe most of you don’t care to understand why those people were upset. . . . maybe if you were halfway sensitive people, you’d appreciate that no one likes to be called names with bad connotations. . . . your callous indifference toward those who are hurt by the word is as bad as if you were trying to approve the N-word and attempting to get the NAACP to support your efforts.”

    Your mischaracterization of those not opposed to the Ypsitucky label is callously indifferent, showing that you don’t care to understand and that you aren’t a halfway sensitive person (yah, I just felt like pointing out the irony of your accusations/scolding).

    Maybe we should call Ypsilantians of Kentucky heritage untouchables and leave it at that.

    I don’t believe anybody has demonstrated legitimate hurt from the term, yet. If it does hurt you, please explain and justify your position. What is the bad connotation and how is it hurtful to you?

  28. Posted July 6, 2009 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I wish the original instigators of this whole mess, who raised such a fuss against a harmless name, would just stop stirring up strife, learn to compromise, and live/let live so our city could heal.

    You guys used to be cool. What happened?

  29. JC Miller
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    In the beginning, people who didn’t like the name were upset. Now that the name has been changed, the people who liked the name are upset, the people who didn’t are still upset, and the majority who didn’t care either way are sick to death of hearing about it. This was not handled well.

    Referring to the actual post: I’m not well-read enough to have an opinion on how the DTCDC was doing as a steward of the parks. Maybe they were doing worse than the city could be doing and they deserve to lose the contract. However, using the Ypsitucky debate as a red herring is precisely the wrong way to go about it. Rather than allowing the conflicting camps to reconcile over the music festival and have a worthwhile debate on the control of their parks, an already contentious issue is being used to make a unilateral decision without the opportunity for community oversight and participation. It comes off like council is making a political example out of what was supposed to be a good time for the city. This too was not handled well.

  30. dragon
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    How many people here actually use the fucking park? I do every day, and it has never been in worse shape. Yes, the dock has been fixed and the pavilion repainted , but that is the first work done in ten years. I agree with ‘sick of this’ the park was in better shape before depot town took control. Anything done by them has one concern, have it looking good enough that we can rake it in during heritage festival. The stinking fetid pond on the south end is undesirable to say the least. Without the capital improvements, just mowing and cleaning can be done for far less than the 20,000 per year, and done better. As soon as profit motive is introduced you can be sure it will only look decent when a $$ is in the local bars pocket. They had their chance. Someone please tell me when depot town bars will do one thing that won’t improve their personal wealth and then I will side with all you Let’s save “22.000” folks. You are being hoodwinked. Let an unaffiliated caretaker be in charge.

  31. Mike want longr name
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Yes, the dock has been fixed and the pavilion repainted , but that is the first work done in ten years.

    How long was the DTCDC in charge?

    The stinking fetid pond on the south end is undesirable to say the least.

    I don’t understand. Are you blaming them for the rain, or for the fact that the park is in a flood plain?

  32. Posted July 7, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Speaking of Urban Chickens (which is a proper noun, apparently), City Council is having a metting tonight about the new Urban Chicken ordinance.

    I will be learning about birthing techniques and whatnot, so somebody else go for me and tell them that unless someone’s guilty of violating health code or property rights or pollution laws, they shouldn’t be preemptively punished with chicken limits and fees.

    I know no one will do that.

  33. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Again, the question is was the termination of the DTCDC contract done in an open and fair manner. It was not. Because of that any chance to discuss the job done by the DTCDC and what improvements they needed to make or if it was worth continuing the contract never happened. What this is really about is openness and honesty in our city politics. In this case we got neither.
    What if the DAY was drug before city council over the name of the Crossroads festival, and, as a result of a seperate issue with their performance as a civic entity, were pulled through the mud and had all civic responsibilities taken away. Would that be fair?

  34. dragon
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    –AY
    –Are you blaming them for the rain,

    Again, do you use the park?
    Yes, this is the first year we have had rain in the Spring, duh. There have been years when the entire park was under water and we haven’t had standing water into July. If you offer to take care of the park, then do it, even if that means spending a couple hundred dollars to pump standing water. Cut, weed whack and clean the park on a schedule that differs from the day before an event.
    If I had large and direct monetary benefit, and offered to take over maintenance of the park, I would make sure everybody that used it would notice the difference. 20,000 goes a long way, maybe plant some trees or flowers.
    The fact is, if I as an individual with no direct benefit feels I could do a better job, then someone is failing.

  35. Carl Reiner
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Maybe I read the post wrong, but it didn’t sound as though anyone was defending the CDC’s stewardship of the parks. What I read was that they may have been doing a bad job, but, if that was the case, it should have been dealt with as other problems with contractors are handled. As it is, it looks like more political stupidity from YpsaFuckinTucky.

  36. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Dragon,
    The DTCDC had only one year to run the parks, and were given no chance to take and respond to criticism like yours in an open and fair hearing before council. They may have taken all of this to heart and wound up making the parks better than they ever were. But now we don’t get to find out. Its like calling a house a total loss because of a kitchen fire, before the fire depatment even arives. You seem intent on fanning the flames but not letting anyone get in to take an evaluation of the damage.
    If there had been a fair and honest hearing before council about the job the DTCDC did, if they had been given a chance to respond and make changes, and still did not live up to community expectations, then we would not even be having this discussion. Wouldn’t that have been the honest thing to do before we start throwing around city money that we need elsewhere? You keep talking about a single cause of the issue we’re talking about, but not the actual issue.

  37. Mike want longr name
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    The fact is, if I as an individual with no direct benefit feels I could do a better job, then someone is failing.

    Yeah, and you would have caught that touchdown pass, too…

  38. Candace
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    **If I had large and direct monetary benefit, and offered to take over maintenance of the park, I would make sure everybody that used it would notice the difference. 20,000 goes a long way, maybe plant some trees or flowers.**

    Now i know why you don’t put your real name on your posts. seriously – do you have any idea how much it costs to get two large surface areas like those two parks mowed for one season?

    Do you know what it costs to deal with the consistent vandalism/spray paint/personal garbage pick-up/main garbage pick-up/special event garbage pick-up/police services/insurance/etc. for one full year?

    Do you know how much of an investment in time and money there is to make a park like Riverside wireless? (thank you to Steve Pierce for his massive efforts on this project).

    Do you know how many people and how much coordination it takes to clean up the park and riverbank and river in the spring?

    Do you know how much effort & money it takes to get the snow and ice removed all winter long?

    Do you know what the blueprints and plans costs to prepare for a 7 year ‘long-term’ project for those two parks?

    Are you aware of the fundraising needed in order to raise money to put in trees? Any idea what the process might be like to work with the city government on getting permission to plant trees?

    I wonder who would do that work? Do you think someone would do that work for free? Hmm..more money spent yet again.

    Do you have any idea how many events go on in those two parks this year compared to the last 10 years?

    Any idea who markets for those events? any idea how much time it takes to coordinate those event applications, permits, insurance, licenses & bank accounts?

    Any idea how much it costs to run studies on festivals and events to see if they will succeed? Oh yeah, that must be another one of those ‘happens by itself and for free’ items.

    Do you know how difficult it is meeting everyone else’s standards who don’t actually volunteer for those efforts and who don’t even have the decency to use their own name when criticising?

    I belong to several volunteer organizations ‘Dragon’ and we are ALWAYS looking for help – which one can I count on you to help us out with?

    Perhaps after a little time spent ‘working for the parks’ you will understand the actual time and effort it takes a lot of people to do what they do.

    What’s the landscaping like at your house? How much was that ‘1 flat’ of flowers you put in? annuals no less. $12?

    Well, let’s see – we only have a few acres to deal with – so that should be – yeah…a little bit of money.

    If you want to contribute to a discussion it really is helpful to your cause to do a small bit of reasonable research first – and use your own name.

    Otherwise you look like someone hiding behind empty words.

  39. Candace
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Honestly. It sure would be nice if we just heard a ‘thank you’ every once in awhile.

    I believe in the DTCDC a great deal and that’s why I spend my time and effort on it. I want to believe in the city of Ypsilanti but my heart has been broken – something i never thought could happen from a ‘city’ for heavens sakes.

    Anyone who has ever volunteered and given their time and energy up freely knows and understands the serious commitment, time, effort and dedication it takes to do an often thankless job.

    Sure, the Tuesday morning after Memorial Day the garbage wasn’t picked up first thing. After i have a big party I’m lucky if i get all my garbage cleaned up by the next morning too ;-).

    Other than that those parks look great – compared to being closed or only mowed – and, yes, i use those parks all the time.

    I donate my time and energy to those two parks by way of the DTCDC and i agree that it’s a shame and embarrassment to our community that we never had a chance at a fair ‘trial’ I mean discussion.

    But, once your heart is broken you typically want to run far and fast anyway.

    Satisfaction comes from a simple ‘thank you for helping out our city, raising your own money, taking the risk of paying a Director so we can be sure to get the job done, courting folks – from outside the city as well – to our city to show them our plans for the future, our daily/weekly and annual work completed and goals met, for creating new events in our parks, for marketing the city as a whole and, again, fundraising money to contribute to that cause and for doing things like picking up the garbage and hiring a wonderfully sweet retired man, Ernie, to care for those parks like it was his own back yard.’

    Thank you DTCDC for stepping up when the City said they couldn’t. Thank you for spending your private money on our city property so that we can all enjoy those parks and for thinking about our future so that our children can enjoy those parks and so that we can get people to move INTO our city.

    Thank you DTCDC for volunteering your time and energy and for bringing us a new festival – no matter the adversities – again on your own dime.

    Thank you DTCDC for thinking about our whole community and for doing the best you can.

    Thank you.

  40. Law and Order
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Maybe we missed something — but aside from the proposal for a concert with a dubious and predictably controversial name, what effort did the DTCDC ever make in the last year to communicate with the community about its activities, work, and plans for the park? Candace’s long list of points all seem solid – but which of them were ever communicated to the community, and how? It’s rich to complain about not being thanked if your good deeds are not known.

    Personally, I have to agree that the park looks worse this year than a year ago, aside from the dock. Not sure if that’s all the DTCDC’s fault or not, but I’m equally unsure if the DTCDC has any bragging rights. The negative marketing done for the city by DTCDC with the ypsitucky name offsets a lot, doesn’t it?

  41. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    There was no negative marketing from the DTCDC. There would have been no negative marketing of any kind if not for a those few noisy critics. If they had not made a public issue of a word, there would have been only positive marketing. So don’t put that on them. And again, to me, this is more about the fact that there never was a public debate about the job the DTCDC did.

  42. Posted July 7, 2009 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    *I’d just like to point out that the Crossroads Festival’s name evokes Satanism and, as such, is a pejorative to those of Christian beliefs. For this reason, I, as a staunch anti-Satanist, demand that the name be changed.*

    As ridiculous as this sounds — and let’s be clear; it’s totally ridiculous — it’s about as valid an argument as the one presented by the anti-Tuckian movement.

    But what’s done is done, right? Or is it?

    As I see it, the anti-Tuckians got their way, then they twisted the knife by using their leverage to take away the contract even after the DTCDC capitulated to their paranoid demands. There’s a word for that and it’s: Jive-ass.

    For Sick of This does to suggest that the revocation of the parks contract by the City Council has nothing to do with the Ypsitucky name is naive at best and, at worst, just-plain ignorant.

  43. ZP
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    So I just got back from a lengthy city council meeting (which primarily addressed chickens). There were a couple of other items on the docket though and, unless my ears deceived me, I think they voted to extend the DTCDC contract for some token length of time – like through July or something.

    Sorry I can’t be more specific but I was busy mentally rehersing my compelling speech extolling the vmany irtues of chickens.

  44. Posted July 7, 2009 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    No time right now to defend myself, etc, but I wanted Kate to know that I did change the spelling of her name.

    I’ll try to respond to the other stuff later.

    But, before I go, I wanted to reiterate that I’m not defending the DTCDC’s management of the parks. I’m not saying that it was stellar. I’ve seen trash down there recently, but, then again, I’ve always seen trash down there. Anyway, I wasn’t saying that the CDC shouldn’t be challenged. I think they should be. I just think that stripping them of control over their attempt to use the dreaded suffix “tucky” was absolutely ridiculous at best, and illegal at worst. I would encourage City Council to reconsider the decision.

    And, no, I haven’t taken any money from the CDC…. I haven’t even been invited to one of the expensive lunches I hear about.

  45. ZP
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Having now read this entire thread I feel compelled to comment that the various hearts breaking about the cancellation of the DTCDC contract remind me of the mock outrage at the City Council Meeting where they actually cancelled the contract.

    One guy said ” Hearing the word Ypsitucky makes me want to go outside & throw up”. This is more of the same & both are amusing.

    Who cares? You live in Ypsitucky people . . . get fucking used to it.

  46. Curt Waugh
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Colonel Will, are you callin’ city council a bunch of jive turkeys? Are you calling them jive turkeys?!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlcqSsQfK68

  47. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    ZP,
    City council voted to extend the termination of the contract to July 27, so that they can still opperate the beer festival.

    Mark, you said
    ” Anyway, I wasn’t saying that the CDC shouldn’t be challenged. I think they should be. I just think that stripping them of control over their attempt to use the dreaded suffix “tucky” was absolutely ridiculous at best, and illegal at worst.”

    That is exatctly right! The DTCDC were in the first year of their contract. They needed to be challanged, and needed to respond to those challanges. Again, if they were properly challanged and didn’t respond, case closed. Every thing done above boards, neat and pretty. But they may have responded brilliantly, gotten high praise from all involved and helped the city with it’s budget. And wouldn’t that have been nice?

  48. nammeroo
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    To my mind, the most damaging argument against reinstating the DTCDC contract to maintain the parks is fiscal. The organization spent thousands of dollars on food, meals and treats for “volunteers.” This in the short time they managed the parks!

    I can understand a budget line item (in the few hundred dollar range) for bottled water (hot days) and hot chocolate/coffee (cold days). I can even understand spending a hundred bucks on pizza or hot dogs for an annual clean-up day like Ypsi PRIDE. Spending nearly half your park maintenance money on food is irresponsible. If the City did it, we would be stringing up the Mayor!

  49. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    nammeroo,
    Keep in mind that the DTCDC is a charity organization, not a park maintainence company. Yes they treat their volunteers. And they treat city officials, festival officials, and others in an attempt to bring new events into the city and the parks. That’s how the buisness in done, and bringing new events to the park was part of the reason they were brought in. And keep in mind, these are private funds raised by the DTCDC, not your tax money.
    And as a volunteer, I take exception to your putting volunteer in quotes. I have spent hours and hours of my own time promoting and organizing other volunteers for the Jamboree. Your statement would imply that we’re something other than honest in trying to better the community just because we are involved with an organization that you don’t like. Thanks

  50. perspectives
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    I see this as a return of the short-sighted and petty local politics that had helped hold this town back for years. The past 7-9 years have been good for the town. depiste the local, state, and national problems- this town looks and feels better than when I moved here 12 years back. IMO.

    Not surprising to see recent regression, as we brought back components of quite-a-while-ago in the last local election.

  51. EOS
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    DTCDC is a charity? Is the list of donors publicly available? What percentage of its budget is funded by private donations? Is maintaining the parks the only function of this entity? Does City Council think they can make the parks profitable? What are the real issues underlying the personality clashes? Just trying to understand this issue and asking in case anyone knows.

  52. Posted July 8, 2009 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    EOS,
    You can visit the website of the Depot Town Community Development Corporation (DTCDC) to learn a little more about the entity.
    http://www.depottowncdc.org/

  53. Mark H.
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Community development corporations are not charities in any normal or legal meaning of the term I know…..though I don’t usually agree with EOS. However, maybe what “Andy Ypsilanti,” meant is that the DTCDC is a non-profit. I think CDCs are non profits, though it’s been decades since I seriously worked with one of them. Community development corporations arose I think in the 196os as a means of addressing community development issues that the capitalist market was ignoring, or making worse; they were organizations for public funds to be funneled into local areas to meet urban needs.

  54. galan
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    EOS. You can go to the DTCDC website and learn about it’s structure, mission and accomplishments as well as the advisors they list, some of whom did not know they were advisors. Others have subsequently quit. I think as many of you said above, the conversation about the “Ypsitucky” naming issue raised other questions about how the DTCDC handled themselves and communicated with others (including the city) concerning the naming of the Jamboree and also about other things. The DTCDC debate is now about those other issues it seems. One really had to go to the city council and HRC meetings and listen to the council and committee members and the audience to really understand the whole thing.

    Still, there is good news for people who remain stuck on re-naming the city “Ypsitucky”. As of last night, WE CAN HAVE CHICKENS IN YPSILANTI! Why not move on and start working on changing the city’s name to “YPSICLUCKY”, or better yet, go for “CHICKSILANTI”!?

  55. Posted July 8, 2009 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Galan,

    When you say, “One really had to go to the city council and HRC meetings and listen to the council and committee members and the audience to really understand the whole thing,” it sounds as though you’re saying that the crimes of CDC are, for some reason, unrelatable. Do you really mean to say that, unless we were in this meetings, we can’t understand why the contract was terminated? That we should just trust you because you were? YOu’ll have to excuse me for saying this, but that comes across as ridiculous. If they did something wrong, people on Council should be able to convey to us, the citizens of Ypsi, what exactly they did. This whole thing just sounds fishier and fishier.

  56. Posted July 8, 2009 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    I have no intention of questioning the motives of City Council as to why they canceled our contract. I will state that the CDC never had an opportunity to address any performance or contractual based complaints, but if and when the time comes to do such, I would prefer to have a dialogue with Council instead of exaggerating anything further publicly. You won’t find me fanning the flames of this controversy, as things stopped being productive long ago. And yes, we’ve made some mistakes over the past year. Anyone who has the uncanny ability to go through their lives and career without having missteps, please get in touch – I’d love to have you on my board.

    What I will address and clarify is what the CDC has done in the parks. To start, the CDC was formed as a vehicle to make improvements in the city. Anyone who has glanced at the budget projections for the city will realize it is not a pretty scenario, and the CDC has the capacity to provide services that the city may not be able provide. Our primary goal is to improve the quality of life in our community, and in turn, spur economic development. We are a private non-profit organization that raises our money that is reinvested in the community. This is primary achieved through events (ElvisFest brings in over half of our operating budget in a good year, thus the reason for another festival), grants, charitable gaming and other fundraising efforts. I’ll point out that we did receive $5,000 from the local DDA, which is the same amount the DDA gave to the one day fashion show downtown and half the amount given to the Crossroads Music Festival.

    Let’s talk about the parks. The two parks that we operate had suffered from decades of deferred maintenance. Feel free to shoot an email to the City Manager or DPW Director to inquire about any improvements made over the past twenty years. As I understand it – they cut the grass, collected trash, plowed snow when it exceeded eight inches, removed graffiti and allowed the Jaycees to handle event coordinating. There were safety issues we had to address when we began operations. The dock had structural issues due to rotting wood and holes were developing where people had stepped through the rotten deck boards. We had to close down the dock for some events last year due to safety concerns. We also inherited an electrical problem with one of the pedestals that supplies electricity for events. At one of the festivals last summer, someone was mildly electrocuted trying to unplug cords from the outlet. It was severe enough that the voltage locked his muscles up, forcing another person to physically knock him off the line.

    On short notice I can’t recall everything we have done over the past year, but this is what comes to mind. The most obvious improvement is the dock. And yes, we did fortunately have the assistance of the WCC construction program, who did an amazing job! But anyone who thinks that you throw them the keys and the project magically takes care of itself is sorely mistaken. I won’t get into the permitting, coordinating and other services that we did on this project. And for those of you unaware, the project isn’t completed – we planned to build a gazebo over the dock this fall, but I’m not sure if that will come to fruition at this point.

    Most recently, we painted the pavilion in Riverside Park. Check it out, it looks great! This summer we partnered with Wireless Ypsi to provide free wireless internet in Riverside Park, and it looks like our plans to install it in Frog Island won’t happen anytime soon. We painted all the little things in the parks, such as handrails, gates, benches, picnic tables and utility pedestals. We put a refrigerator in the pavilion at Riverside, and our wonderful parks manager passes out water and popsicles to kids whenever he is in the parks. We cleaned out and replaced the broken doors on the blockhouse in Frog Island. We’ve made repairs to the Tridge. We’ve organized park cleanup days. We’ve planted annuals in the parks. We’ve trimmed back trees and brush. We clean up broken glass, trash and graffiti. We’ve hauled out all the trees and debris that had been caught under the dock. We painted signs. We’ve made several repairs to broken water lines underground. We’ve replaced broken valves that supply water from the pavilion. And we rebuilt the electric line and replaced the pedestal that was a major safety hazard. We also spent well over $20,000 to hire a firm to develop the conceptual plan for the parks that was adapted by the city for the Parks & Recreation Master Plan, which needs to be updated every five years to remain eligible for grant funding.

    Last summer we brought in eight new free concerts for the community. This year we had three return with an additional three planned that were canceled after our contract was terminated. We also had plans to bring fitness events into the parks such as yoga this summer, but we dropped those plans as well. We brought in an engineer to measure noise levels from events and created a policy to address concerns from residents living nearby. We made an effort (unsuccessfully albeit) to work with Mark to find support and funding to bring his idea of a bike-powered movie series to the parks, and we had planned to continue pursuing that idea to make it a reality.

    For those of you who have never done it, it takes an incredible amount of time, energy and money to bring in new events – particularly when you’re working outside without amenities such as shelter, restrooms and other conveniences provided at indoor facilities. I’ll remind everyone that we only operated the parks for a year. One of the primary goals of our organization is achieve self-sustaining operations, meaning that we don’t need to depend on outside funding to keep everything going. And that is why we spent countless hours developing our new festival, which limited our ability to bring in additional events this summer. Each of our festivals costs roughly $40,000 to $50,000 to put on, which brings plenty of risk. Take a look around at how many festivals lose money or are subsidized by local governments, it’s not an easy thing to do. We’ve also been busy working with a production company to launch a new marketing campaign highlighting the events and activities throughout the community. I could get into details about mundane things that new organizations must develop, such as improved accounting systems, website development, building partnerships, recruiting interns, hiring contractors, strategic planning, marketing events, grant writing, fundraising, etc.

    In previous posts, I’ve addressed the questions some have raised about spending $4,000 on dining expenses. Simply put, half of that money was used for a one-time event hosting community leaders and partners for a reception when we began operations. We pick up the tab when we meet with partners and volunteers over lunch, as a thank you for all of their help and support. And we have one board meeting a month over lunch.

    The complaint about trash being left in the parks is somewhat valid. We partnered with the county sheriff community service department to come through the parks every Monday to collect and remove all the trash. This past Memorial Day, we had an event over the weekend and the group did not come through to collect the garbage on the following Monday. I found out a couple days after the fact and made an assumption that they didn’t come due to the holiday. I had our parks manager take care of the problem when I found out. Then the following week, they didn’t come out again. We made numerous phone calls that were not returned. As is turns out, the gentleman that ran the program had left and we were unaware of the change. And apparently, his replacement was not informed of the arrangement that we had in place. We’ll take the responsibility for the conditions of the parks during that time, but it is an unfair generalization to state that we did not properly remove trash during our tenure of operating the parks.

    I do take exception to anyone making remarks regarding the “lakes” that have been in the parks for much of the season. The river has flooded its’ bank three times this year, and from what I’m told, it typically only occurs about once every three years. The park sits in a floodplain and that is what happens in floodplains. And for the record, we did pump the water out once, only to have it rain significantly the next day. The water table is naturally high and the ground is so saturated, even after pumping it out, it naturally seeps back into the low lying areas. If you look at our long-term plan, we do have plans to grade the area and to construct a retention pond to address the water issue. We also pulled about 100 dead or dying carp out of the lakes after the floods.

    Sorry for this long post. I could probably keep writing all night, but I hope that people begin to understand that we do a lot more than just cut the grass, eat lunch and pick fights in the community. Our city is in a tight financial position and I hope they utilize resources that can help carry the burden. We’re all in this together.

    Erik Dotzauer
    Executive Director
    Depot Town CDC

  57. Mike want longr name
    Posted July 9, 2009 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Erik. Great post.

  58. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 9, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Mark H,
    Yes, you are correct, I should have said non-profit, not charity. Thaks for the correction. And Erik, thank you for the great post. I hope it helps folks understand why others wer upset with the way the DTCDC contract was handled by the city. See you at Elvis Fest!

  59. galan
    Posted July 9, 2009 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Mark,
    You are the one talking about “crimes” committed by the DTCDC not me and not anyone else on this thread that I can see. In fact, I feel that the DTCDC has done some great things and I am not necessarily in favor of cancelling their contract. You appear to want to fan the flames on this for some reason that I guess only you know. I agree with Mr. Dotzauer. We are all in this together. There is a proper forum for this discussion and it seems like a good idea to honor Mr. Dotzauer’s request to hold the discussion there.

  60. Dirtgrain
    Posted July 9, 2009 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    What’s on fire? A heap of lies, hypocrisy and hidden agendas? Burn that down. I want the truth. City Council members are not offering it up. Keep pushing.

  61. Mark L
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    So, have we forgotten all about this? Isn’t anyone still pissed at Robb and the city council for acting like babies and wasting $22k a year of our money for park maintenance when it didn’t have to be.

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] few days ago, I raised a question here about whether or not Ypsi City Council was right to have stripped stewardship of Frog Island and Riverside parks from the Depot Town CDC. As I pointed out at the time, I think there may well have been legitimate criticism of the CDC and […]

  2. By Did I almost die for “Ypsitucky”? on January 15, 2010 at 8:57 am

    […] I’m told that the CDC had taken this precaution the previous winter.) But, as we all know, control of the parks was taken away from the CDC over their decision to use that vile word – Ypsitucky. And, now, instead of having the CDC […]

  3. By Ypsi’s parks and what it costs to maintain them on January 19, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    […] down when members of City Council told them to drop the offensive name or else. And, as a result, control of the parks was taken away from the Depot Town CDC. I believe it was argued that the City could now afford to reabsorb the cost of park maintenance, […]

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