A few days ago, I posted something here written by my friend Richard “Murph” Murphy on the subject of the Ypsilanti ballot initiative to raise taxes in support of public transportation. Murph, Ypsilanti’s former city planner, is an enthusiastic supporter of the charter amendment that we will be voting on this Tuesday, as are community leaders like Mayor Paul Schreiber, and City Councilman Pete Murdock, both of whom have joined him in leaving comments here, urging their fellow citizens to vote yes on the initiative. There are, however, several in the community who do not agree that a new millage is called for. Murph, in a comment left after his initial post, called one of these individuals out by name. Here’s his note, directed at local business owner Karen Maurer, who has come out on record against the public transit millage, as well as the other proposed millages on Tuesday’s ballot, followed by her response:
I will also note that I’m pretty disappointed in Karen Maurer’s leading role in the “No” PAC. With high-end downtown lofts becoming more and more substantial a part of Maurer Management’s business, I would hope they’d recognize the role that good transit service plays in helping attract the residents who fill those lofts. (Not to mention the fact that Maurer Management has received tax abatements on all of the loft projects anyways, minimizing the impact on those properties.) Many of the other landlords backing the PAC primarily rent to EMU students, and so have a more captive audience (and one with shorter memories), but Maurer’s lofts rely on attracting residents who could be anywhere.
I admire the dedication that Eric and Karen Maurer have shown to downtown, and appreciate the impact they’ve made in bringing new residents to Michigan Avenue. But if they’re going to continue their success, and if we’re going to keep attracting residents and business to Ypsilanti when they have choices elsewhere, we need to maintain the amenities like transit (and libraries, incidentally) that these residents would like. It’s shortsighted to kill the goose laying the golden eggs just because you don’t want to pay for goose food.
I would encourage anyone who is a tenant of Maurer Management (or any of the other landlords involved, for that matter) to express their disappointment with the “NO parks, libraries, or transit” stance that they’ve come up with.
And, here, as promised, is Karen’s response:
Murph, thank you for all your help to us when you were the Ypsilanti City Planner. You have been invaluable to our efforts in rehabilitating buildings Downtown.
For the past few years the economy in Michigan has been in terrible shape, the worst I have ever experienced. This past year alone I have had 6 evictions, commercial tenants on the verge of collapse, bankers fining me on a yearly basis because the buildings we own do not meet the debt service ratio, increases in water bills, gas bills, attorney fees and reduced rents. In year 2009 we had 7 small business in one commercial property close their doors because they had to file bankruptcy or go out of business. This past month alone I received two emails from two different tenants who vacated the premises and moved out of the State, one to Texas and one to Virginia, even though they signed a lease. The state of the economy in Michigan is no laughing matter, and we are very affected by circumstances beyond our control.
Maurer Management has still continued to rehabilitate the Mack & Mack Building and begin rehabilitation on the Mellencamp Building. We are committed to the restoration of our Downtown and to the betterment of the City of Ypsilanti and I have personally given every effort to make the City a better place by serving on numerous boards and committees.
I am supportive of the bus, library and parks but I do not know how I can continue to pay the current bills that I have and then even more. Helping on the NO campaign was not an easy decision. My obligations have to be focused on paying the current bills that I have and I am behind like everyone else. That being said I do think that the bus millage will pass so all of this will be over on Tuesday and hopefully we can all continue to work together to make Ypsilanti a better place.