Before moving back, former Ypsilantian wants to know how the town has changed over the past 8 years

This past spring, I posted a note here from a guy in New York who was thinking of moving back to the area, and trying to decide between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. The ensuing conversation was awesome, but apparently we failed to convince said person that Ypsilanti was the right place for him and his family. (They chose Ann Arbor.) But all is not lost, Ypsilanti. We have a chance to redeem ourselves… Yes, there is another fish on the hook… The following note comes from a man in Indianapolis. We’ll call him Steve.

steveletterypsi

So, what shall we tell him?

Should we tell him the truth? Or should we give him what we think his wife would like to hear, which, reading between the lines, is what I think he’s asking for?

I think we should go with the truth.

Let’s go about it this way… As he knows what it was like here in 2006, at least from the perspective of a student, let’s begin with how things have either improved, or gotten worse since then. Has Ypsi, over the past eight years or so, become any better? I can think of a few things from my own experience, but I’d love to hear from others.

First, I think a lot of really interesting people over the past eight years have come to settle down in Ypsi, making the community stronger and more interesting. While many communities in Michigan are shrinking, Ypsi is actually growing, albeit slightly. And I’ve interviewed quite a few of these new folks here… people like Bee Roll, who made life in Ypsi exponentially better by opening Beezy’s, or Lee Azus, who chose to move here from San Francisco when his boyfriend took a job at EMU, or Scott Straley, who said that he moved here in part because he wanted to live in a community where the people would come together to do something like collectively take back a plot of vacant land and turn it into a commons. And that’s something else I’d point to… the evolution of Water Street, which now, in addition to the native prairie, houses an inspiring community sculpture park with works by over a dozen different people. And I think that kind of gets to the heart of why I love Ypsi. People don’t just wait for things to happen. They make things happen. From the kids of the Ypsi Free Skool, who are working to democratize eduction, to all the folks who showed up last night to discuss the possibility of starting a worker-owned bookstore, Ypsi is full of people who aren’t afraid to get involved and make things happen.

I won’t lie and say that everything’s perfect, but it’s hard for me to imagine a better place for a smart young person with a desire to actively engage and build something positive. There’s opportunity everywhere.

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52 Comments

  1. Bob Krzewinski
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Ypsi, its NOT pretentious!!!

  2. Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    I would say that Ypsi has very much improved over the past 25 years.

  3. Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    If i had to make a choice, I would still live in Ann Arbor. There is no way I’d ever live in Ypsi. It’s just too difficult to get around.

  4. Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    (at the risk of bringing down wrath upon me…).

    Steve, a fellow Steve here. Let me tell you where I’m coming from on this. First, even though I’ve been here since 1998 (and I’ve lived in Ypsi since then, mostly in Normal Park), I don’t really think of myself “from here” and I think the whole “Ann Arbor versus Ypsilanti” thing is in most ways pretty silly. When people are here from out of town on a visit of some sort and they don’t know any better, I ask them “do you know where the border is to Ann Arbor?” They almost never know. So honestly and in the big picture of things, it doesn’t make a lot of difference.

    That said, my personal pros/cons:

    Ypsilanti, pros:
    * Cheaper housing, which was the main reason we bought a house here way back when in the first place.
    * Great neighborhood– Normal Park, that is.
    * More funky.
    * Simultaneously, more old-fashioned/traditional.
    * For me, very very conveniently located (though I work at EMU, so your results will vary.)
    * A lot of school districts (including Ann Arbor) are now “school of choice” and there are a lot of alternatives available.

    Ann Arbor, pros:
    * More cool and groovy.
    * It’s where all “the stuff” is, unless you’re going more toward Canton and parts toward Detroit. What I mean is pretty much all the stuff I do that is not work– restaurants, grocery and retail shopping, doctors/dentists, entertainment, hanging out, etc.– is in Ann Arbor.
    * One of America’s great college towns (though see below).
    * Real estate– particularly fairly close to downtown– holds its value.
    * Great schools.
    * Pretty and well-heeled (once you get a bit away from campus).

    Ypsi, cons:
    * Shitty public schools.
    * Limited shopping/dining/entertainment opportunities. It’s not that they’re not there; just not as many by comparison.
    * More crime, though I have never really thought of it as dangerous.
    * While houses are cheaper, you ain’t going to make a lot of money on real estate in this town.
    * More grimy/gritty.

    Ann Arbor, cons:
    * Expensive, especially with things like housing.
    * If your’e not that interested in the whole U of M thing, it can be a strange and lonely place.
    * Pretentious (though I’m actually kind of okay with that).
    * Art Fair.
    * U of M football.

    So I guess what I would ultimately say is you can’t make too bad of a decision either way, especially if schooling isn’t much of an issue for you one way or the other.

  5. VOR
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I appreciate your response, Steve, even if I don’t agree with it. But, and I mean no disrespect when I say this, when you refer to Ann Arbor as “more cool and groovy”, I have to wonder how credible your other observations are.

    As for Ypsi schools being “shitty”, you must have missed the news that WIHI was the second best scoring high school in the state, and the best in Washtenaw County.

  6. Eel
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    The porn stores you loved are now all gone. Sorry, Steve.

  7. Posted December 4, 2014 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    I can only speak to what I see on this site, but Ypsi strikes me as quite pretentious, or at least it hell bent on showing that it isn’t Ann Arbor, to the point of elitist pretention. Ypsi seems to be far more self-conscious and snobby than Ann Arbor, though I’m biased. I know Ann Arbor far better than Ypsi.

    That’s just my opinion, though. The reality could be quite different.

  8. wobblie
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    The drug and prostitution traffic on Summit and Michigan Ave. has fallen way off.

  9. kjc
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Peter it’s ok to withhold an opinion that has no basis in reality. Just for future reference. (You really gotta stop forming opinions about people in an entire town based on this site. It’s silly. Trust me that you can find people you hate anywhere.)

    Anyway. Better restaurants in the past 8 years. Better retail. More people who have figured out it’s a cool place to be. My work friends in Ann Arbor never came to Ypsi much 8 years ago. Now they come for beezy’s and wurst.

  10. SK
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    More hep cats in Ann Arbor, Daddy-O.

  11. Posted December 4, 2014 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    VOR, I freely admit that my cred regarding an assessment of what counts as “cool and groovy” and “funky” is a bit suspect. I’m a middle-aged white guy who is a professor at EMU and who is way WAY more likely to be spending a Friday/Saturday night at home watching videos than I am to be at some kind of dance club or band or whatever. I’ve been in the Blind Pig before (once, I think); never inside The Elbow Room or The Tap Room.

    This is not to say that there aren’t lots of great places in Ypsi, obviously. I’m a big fan of the Wurst Bar, Beezy’s, The Rocket, The Corner, The Sidetrack, etc., etc., etc.

    But as far as Ypsi schools go: I kind of feel like I know what I’m talking about there. They’re pretty bad and haven’t gotten worse– more crowded as more schools have closed, a lot more tense as this district merged with Willow Run. Not a good scene.

    Washtenaw International High School isn’t Ypsilanti schools. It’s part of the “Washtenaw Intermediate School District” which is an arrangement that works with all the school district in the county. They are the “district” for charter schools in the county, they work with a program at WCC where high school students can attend and earn a high school degree, and they’re also do things with the other school districts. WIHI is one of these entities.

    In the TMI category of things, we sent our son to Greenhills because of the conditions on the ground six years ago when he started sixth grade. He’s a senior now, and while Greenhills cost us way too much money, the school has served him well and I think we made the right choice. But if our son were starting sixth grade now, we would have taken advantage of Ann Arbor’s now “school of choice” options (which wasn’t the case way back when), and as he got to high school (WIHI is only a high school), we would have tried to have gone there. We know some folks who send their kids there (and my son knows some of the kids who go there, too), and we’ve heard really good things.

    But WIHI is located in what used to be “East Middle School” because that’s the building that made the most sense for that school. It could as easily have been located in Ann Arbor, and if it continues on the path that it’s on, I wouldn’t be surprised if it moved to some place more “centrally located” in terms of the county, someplace like Ann Arbor. But who knows?

    Anyway, a long way back to Mark’s original question: if you’re making a choice between Ann Arbor versus Ypsilanti based on schools, Ann Arbor (or some of the other districts in the county) is still clearly the better choice. However, as long as you’re willing to haul you child to that school of choice over in Ann Arbor and/or to WIHI, Ypsi is not out of the question. And if you don’t have kids or if you don’t plan on sending kids to public schools anyway, see my above pros and cons.

  12. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I have lived in both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti for significant periods of time and I agree with Peter: Ypsilanti is way more pretentious. There are cool people anywhere you go but in Ypsilanti you run into so many closed minded, insecure people, most of whom seem to be going through a perpetual identity crisis. Relative to the rest of Michigan I do think Ypsilanti is a decent place to live, in part, because it is near Ann Arbor. I will also add that I think Ypsilanti is improving. More businesses seem to be popping up, replacing empty storefronts, but that is just my impression.

  13. Norman Tervo
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    100% better with all the young folks that have moved into Ypsi they been working for positive change for Ypsilanti. I have always been a big Ypsi fan and I’m so glad to see the positive progression.

  14. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Having lived in a lot of different I have found that I am happiest if I just move within walking distance / very short bike ride distance to work, schools, gym and a grocery store. (Everything else will fall into place if I situate myself on the map in this way.)

  15. anonymous
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Ann Arbor is good for older, successful people. No doubt about it. There’s lots to do. Lots of Paneras. It’s nice, safe and clean. Ypsi is for people who want to create something for themselves. It’s as easy as that.

  16. Posted December 4, 2014 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter (I think).

    I’ve been living in the area for twelve years, all of them in Ann Arbor, and, as a single man without a car who works near downtown (I haven’t driven, really, since the millennium), I’ve found it generally easier and more convenient to live where I do. I probably could have found a better place to live in Ypsi the last several years, and the idea often tempted because I liked Ypsi and had a lot of good friends there (more and more over the years). Especially as the local music scene I knew started to center more and more on Woodruff’s, my intrigue at the possibility grew. That said, when I got the chance to live cheaply on the edge of downtown Ann Arbor this past May (barely a mile away from work), I took it in a heartbeat. I had been looking at places in Ypsi, and I figure I could have made it work with a little planning, especially after the AATA millage passed (which has helped a *lot* of people). This said, transportation was still too ephemeral for me to comfortably depend on it. That may change in the next year or two (and I may well have little choice and simply be priced out of my present digs), but there’s still more for me to *do* in Ann Arbor, even if a lot of that is the result of growing gentrification, toxic or otherwise. I love Ypsi, and try to spend money there once a week if possible (usually in Aubree’s, and I’ll be making a point to visit Beezy’s a lot more this winter), but I’ve always suspected I’d get bored there without a partner or family (this may well be down to lack of information). I’ve known couples and families who’ve lived there and they’ve absolutely loved it.

    Steve’s points are well-taken (although you don’t have to hail from an SEC town as I do to find it pretty easy to ignore all the football stuff, at least outside of the dedicated Saturdays), especially his disdain for the Ann Arbor-Ypsi “divide.” This may just be a product of my own lack of local roots, but I just spent Thanksgiving Week in a city twice the size of Ann Arbor and Ypsi combined, and they–well, the ones who care, anyway, like my brother and sister-in-law–would *kill* for some of the problems our Washtenaw siblings face (employment patterns aside). It’s always seemed a shame to me that there seems to be the kind of shoulder-chip mentality that looms past US-23. Of course, then I read any average comments section on AnnArbor.com and it all makes sense. When the AATA millage passed, I think it might have been here where either Mark or one of the commenters mentioned the possibility of a regional consciousness developing with Ann Arbor and Ypsi as more or less equal partners, maybe taking in Washtenaw County as a whole. I’ve already been kind of thinking this way since I started hanging out in Ypsi. Not sure exactly what kind of point I wanted to make with this post, but this note and response really touched a chord. I think what I’d tell him, above all, is that a life in Ypsi doesn’t have to exclude Ann Arbor, and vice versa. Nor should it, I think.

  17. Posted December 4, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I love Ypsilanti and enjoyed my time there immensely. I would choose Ypsilanti over Ann Arbor in a heartbeat for many of the reasons mentioned above… and I always did choose Ypsilanti, even when working in other cities. I think Ypsi would be the best choice based on all of Steve’s criteria except perhaps the walkability/bikability, depending on work situations. I loved that I could walk to everything *except* work – groceries, library, coffee, beer, dentist, etc. I ultimately moved away from Ypsilanti this year because I was teaching in Detroit, and the commute was hell. If Steve is becoming a teacher, he will obviously have to commute to a teaching job. Teaching jobs in Ann Arbor are very hard to get, so in that sense Ypsi might be a better option. There are a lot of new charter schools in Ypsilanti so there’s a chance he could get a job that he could bike to. (Check out the Washtenaw Consortium!)

  18. A.E.
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    My husband and I (both with above the median, more than reasonable incomes) love living in the city of Ypsilanti. We have a generous sized house and yard, amazing neighbors, the student influx is totally bearable, parking downtown, easy access to freeways, easy access to a vibrant Detroit and it’s western suburbs, our son and granddaughter both academically successful and everything is less expensive east of 23. Everything. Plus, our community is a little funky and we like that.

  19. kjc
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    “in Ypsilanti you run into so many closed minded, insecure people, most of whom seem to be going through a perpetual identity crisis.”

    you know, right, that these observations actually speak volumes about your own insecurity and identity crisis? i’m not sure who was “cooler than you” that made you feel bad about yourself but let it go.

  20. Posted December 4, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Ypsi since 2006…hmm…

    First thing, this guy should be grateful he didn’t have to endure that rough patch when Muddhouse closed in …what was it…2007? …until it reincarnated as The Ugly Mugg. Those were some dark years at that corner…The Ugly Mugg is run like a tight ship compared to the old sloppy Muddhouse. and the quality, marketing, and service is all much better….that said, it’s tons more expensive, and is lacking that certain elusive vibe the old Mudd had….I’m still grateful for a coffee shop on that corner though I miss the pay phone at Hamilton and Cross.

    Aubree’s menu sucks ever since they went franchise; Sidetrack is much busier but about the same; there’s still not a decent grocery to be had that doesn’t require a car (i’m sorry, I find the Ypsi Food Co-Op just can’t cover it all…), but Dos Hermanos at least fills the bill if you want to walk to get dinner items.

    Michigan Avenue corridor is much better than in the olden days, but Elbow Room is still missed….Beezys is post 2006…

    Most of all, there’s lots of dispensaries, which didn’t exist prior when this fellow was here last….that’s changed demographics alot on that Cross Street or Michigan ave area…

  21. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Kjc, I like a lot of what Ypsilanti has a lot to offer and Mark’s blog is the best around but I think Peter’s **minority** opinion was worth defending after you arrogantly labeled his opinion not based in reality– because I have observed the same thing Peter has observed. I do think there are a great number of cases where your little psychological analysis/ diagnosis actually fits but it certainly is not necessarily true that “whatever I say bounces off you and sticks to me”. I mean, by way of a silly analogy, is it evidence that I secretly wear diapers and suck on pacifiers if I mention that diapers and pacifiers are a stage that babies go through?

  22. blueeyedpupil
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I moved here eight years ago. What else could you want

  23. Kim
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Ann Arbor has a “dry” bar.

    http://www.mlive.com/business/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2014/12/brillig_dry_bar.html

  24. 734
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I wish Ann Arbor was cheaper so that everyone who is just in Ypsi because they couldn’t afford to be in Ann Arbor could move there.

  25. Posted December 4, 2014 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I think in many ways, Arbor Brewing Companies “Corner Brewery” is the perfect metaphor for the new Ypsilanti: founded in the mid 2000’s by successful progressively minded business persons who were already established in Ann Arbor, it was situated in a rehabilitated industrial space, and has hosted many local social, artistic, and endeavors that are slightly off the radar while at the same time, inclusive, all the while that it nourishes a flourishing crew of regulars who walk, bike, and otherwise find multiple means of transport, to bring themselves there, often with children in tow, to socialize, game, and plan new interesting progressive ventures with a welcoming mix of all walks, creeds, and types of intelligent people!

    But, as this is a metaphor, too bad the beer there just isn’t very good. (But we can all overlook that part most of the time…)

  26. Posted December 4, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Pete in part, on the self-consciousness of Ypsi and our tendency to be “hell bent on showing that it isn’t Ann Arbor”. The frequency with which this community discusses how much better/cooler/more genuine it is than A2 has a “the lady doth protest too much” air at times.

    That said, I lived in A2 for a buncha years, then moved to Ypsi, and have lived here for a buncha years, and I can say, “I prefer living in Ypsi.” Not because it’s “better” (on a lot of objective measures, it’s not), but because it’s its own place in a way that I prefer.

    I’ll note “Steve’s” comment about Indy being “so big it’s hard to feel you have a critical place in the community” as one of those differences. If that’s what you are looking for, there are five dozen people/orgs/efforts in Ypsi at any given time that will snap you up and put you in charge of something. The social hurdle to belongingness in A2 is often much higher (in my experience and as reported by others who have lived in both places)….but I would attribute that less to us being more cool and welcoming people per se, and more about the needs being greater and the resources less. (As far as welcomingness goes, I actually think the animosity towards students, rental households in general, and the mentally ill is much more overt in Ypsi — not necessarily greater, just more openly voiced. …And now I’m going to get shredded for trying to destroy people’s neighborhoods.)

  27. Posted December 4, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    One thing to think about is the job situation. If Steve is graduating with a degree in Secondary English, I have to presume his intent is to teach English at the secondary level. Those jobs are extremely hard to come by, as are all education jobs in MI (yes, even special education jobs unless you are a speech language pathologist or certified to teach students with autism and even those jobs are drying up). The jobs that are available tend to be the ones (as my advisor at EMU once said) “no one else wants”. I see Ypsilanti as being a little more accessible because you have I-94 right there and you can drive to Detroit or Jackson (and yes, you must be willing to drive). If you live in Ann Arbor, it is good to live near M-14 (to get to 96) but you still will have a longer drive to the greater Detroit area, which is where more jobs are located. It’s really a tough call.

    I’m sorry to be the turd in the punchbowl, but I don’t know how much non-teachers in Michigan know about our job situation here. In my district (western Wayne county, about 20 minutes from where I am in a2), we have many certified teachers working as substitutes or parapros, some of whom moved here to follow a spouse and were not aware of how shitty it is to find a job.

    Wherever he chooses, I think he is choosing the best part of the state! I love a2 and Ypsi!

  28. Posted December 4, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    “Steve”, I moved to Ypsi in 2006, so the changes I’ve seen will be what’s new to you.

    EMU’s campus has seen substantial capital investment, esp. during about 2008-2012ish. Some of that’s been major classroom building renovation projects and the big expansion of the Mark Jefferson science complex. Some of it’s been digging into a backlog of capital maintenance needs. Some of it, sadly, has been literally putting up walls around campus.

    Downtown, I think, is doing “better” than when I got here, but has also taken some major hits, and still has a lot of room to go up. Michigan Ave has seen a lot of investment — lots more lofts and fixed-up facades, many fewer vacant storefronts, new stalwarts like The Rocket and Ypsi Studio, Red Rock, and the new Wolverine. Washington Street, though…Beezy’s, Mix, and Bona Sera are shiny new fixtures, but Elbow Room and the Club Divine/Pub 13 complex have been closed and dark for a couple of years now.

    West Cross near campus has seen some upscale change with Theos -> Wurst Bar and Ted’s Pills -> Sweetwaters cafe. Like downtown, still a fair number of missing pieces. Depot Town lost a lot of the retailers / antique shops it had a decade ago (though still has some, and some new ones!), still has some “destination” restaurants, and the food co-op has grown a ton.

    “Walkability / bikeability” -> both City of Ypsi and the County Road Commission have been doing a lot of projects to improve conditions. I know we’ve got a number of all-season bike commuters here, but the bus service has also gotten better frequency and reliability between Ypsi and A2, and the next few years will see more of that, plus later hours and more weekend service, etc.

    If you’re looking at moving to this area, I’d recommend renting a place in Ypsi for a year and seeing what you think — even if you figure out that you don’t like living here, it’s an affordable way to get into the area while you finish finding jobs and decide where you *do* want to live, if it’s not here. (This advice applies even if choose, say, Kalamazoo instead — buying a house as your means of moving across state lines is kinda reckless when there’s an easy “trial” option.)

  29. Posted December 4, 2014 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    I have lived in YPsi for 3 years. I lived in Ann Arbor for six months before that. But I also lived in Ann ARbor 20 years ago, graduating from U of M in 1994. Back then, almost the only reason I ever went to Ypsi was for the thrift store Value Village (now Value World). At the end of 1995, I hung out in Ypsi a little bit before I moved out of state for 20 years. Back then La Fiesta Mexicana on W. Cross st. was the SCHNIZZLE cuz they had HUGE burritos for $4. :-)

    Since I moved back to A2 in 2011, I am shocked and saddened at the changes. And Ypsi has now become what Ann ARbor used to be – a fun place to live.

    Hopefully YPsi doesn’t turn into what A2 has, with housing so expensive downtown that artists and people who don’t care about money can’t afford to live there…. and corporate stores everywhere…. 7-11, Walgreens, CVS, starbucks…. all downtown A2…so sad…. and all the great businesses that have been there for decades have closed or are closing now, like Middle EArth, Falling Water, Foggy Bottom, Raja Rani! And Seva moved out of downtown… I miss Harry’s ARmy Surplus!! YIKES!

    I live in downtown YPSI, don’t drive, don’t get in cars, and only take the bus in an emergency. The last time I got in a car or a bus was last april, and that was to go dumpster diving in Ann Arbor. That was also the last time I went to Ann ARbor.

    And I haven’t been more than a mile from my house in Ypsi since then either. I get ALL of my high quality, fresh, organic, mostly vegan food from YPSILANTI FOOD CO-OP and YPSILANTI FARMERS MARKETS. Absopure brings fresh water to my door. I order what I can’t find in town off the internet. I know thousands of great people that live right here, and we know how to have a blast, with constant art, music, and festivals all the time.

    I like this town so much, I made 7 short video episodes called “Best of Ypsi” . You can just type “Best of Ypsi” into YouTube or go to: youtube.com/CreateHarmony

    I also write a column called “Ass Arbor” in the new magazine started downtown Ypsi. It is called Ypsi Underground. They are sold for the price it costs to make them and there are only about 100-200 copies of each issue. You can check out back issues online (free) and updates on new issues and events at facebook.com/YpsiUnderground. There are a few copies of issue two left and you can get them for $2 at: Ugly Mug, EAstern Coney Island (on Cross St. between Perrin and Ballard), Good Vibes Glass Shop (next to Frog Island), and Fast Eddie’s Music (on Michigan Ave between Adams and WAshington). Issue #3 will hopefully be hot off the press (at United Sonz) tomorrow night, 12/5, in time for First Friday at Ugly Mug. It will be $3 cuz it is 12 pages longer than Issue 2. YU prints almost everything everyone submits, so, go for it: ypsiunderground@gmail.com

    Good Luck

  30. Former Ypsilanti Resident
    Posted December 5, 2014 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    I left this year and consider it an escape. The positives listed so far, are not in my opinion, reasons to lay down roots in ypsi. The Rocket? Several people have listed a novelty store as an example of a cool business… how many times will you frequent a place selling bacon toothpaste and New Kids on the Block buttons? Of all the brew pubs in Michigan I’ve visited, I consider the Corner to be the least palatable. A murdered football player, a couple people murdered within a mile of the home I lived in, daily assaults, prostitution, zero walkability, a disgusting looking main road, and a population filled with people whining because AA is too mainstream..maaan. No thank you to all of that. Dilapidated houses, ugly store fronts (where businesses are in business), schools rated a 2 out of 10, and shitty looking yarn bombs are not “funky”. They area sign of a population with income deficiencies and a strange perception of what a cool place to live is. One of the best restaurants just shut down because they had no liquor license. Where were the community members when that business needed community support? They let it die a slow death because they couldn’t get boozy for one night. You would be better off in AA.

  31. Georgina
    Posted December 5, 2014 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    I’ve got kids (in public schools!) and I chose Ypsi. Frankly, I find AA infuriatingly insular and over-privileged (and, gawd, the traffic!!!). I love the small but urban environment of Ypsi. I love the pool, the coop, and the parks. I love the quirky, crazy schemes that people launch here. I love that my kids know the mayor (and knew the last one too) and that they can ride their bikes to school or the bus station or the library or home from the Corner when mom is taking too long finishing her beer… The kids being able to have that kind of independence and connection to their community (they are 12 and 15) is important to us.

    All public schools in Michigan are facing huge challenges. No parent of a very young child should believe that if they just buy a house in the right community that they will be ‘safe’ from having to deal with the fallout from the current policies. Live in a place with people you like and are willing to work with and do what you can to build the schools you want your kids (and other kids) to be able to attend.

  32. kjc
    Posted December 5, 2014 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    “Income deficiencies” haha. So glad you moved away. Another reason to love Ypsi. It filters out assholes like you.

  33. Lorie
    Posted December 5, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I think Michigan’s environment for a teaching career is horrific and getting worse. Few jobs, terrible pay and little autonomy. Teaching locally – those jobs have really long lines for them.

    If Steve want to relocate and continue his career – Michigan probably isn’t the state to do that in. Never mind getting to the specifics of Ypsilanti.

  34. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 5, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Lorie is right. It makes little sense for a between jobs teacher to decide on a place to live prior to securing a hard to get teaching job, especially since walkability is one of “Steve’s” priorities.

  35. Lorie
    Posted December 6, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    btw…WIHI is not an Ypsilanti District School – it is a consortium high school located in Ypsilanti for the time being – very separate from the Ypsi district. Ypsilanti is a sponsor, along with Ann Arbor, Whitmore Lake and Washtenaw Intermediate School District. A student must apply and, therefor, be accepted into the program. It is mainly for bright kids who want a very rigorous curriculum accepted for the International Baccalaureate. It is a fantastic program. Here is the link: http://www.wihi.org/

    And yes, there are a lot of teachers who want to teach there and those jobs are very competitive.

  36. Lisa Bashert
    Posted December 6, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Back when I was a hippie single mom working at the Del Rio, AA was cool and there was involvement and community. Now the traffic & parking are a nightmare, there’s no THERE there. Once, you could live in the downtown and have a walkable life, but not now. It’s all galleries and high-priced restaurants. In Ypsi, your effort to be involved yields real results, neighborhoods are interconnected and active, the Library, Food Co-op, shoe repair, thrift shops, hardware store, parks, community gardens, Fly, Russian Ballet Theater, bus system, progressive politics, Harvest Kitchen, downtown health centers, post office, Pease, all make a walkable life much more possible. If WCC, EMU, SJMH would quit using pesticides on the grass, I couldn’t be happier.

  37. XXX
    Posted December 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    With all due respect, who cares that WIHI isn’t a district school? The discussion was about the quality of K-12 options in Ypsi, and WIHI is in Ypsi. Whether they report to the city or the county matters not one bit. Furthermore, they don’t only take the brightest kids. They have programs in place, both during the school year and over the summer, to help kids acclimate to the rigorous pace. Admittedly, some kids will choose not to put themselves though what’s required to be successful at WIHI, but they don’t turn non-geniuses away.

  38. Jcp2
    Posted December 6, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I think it might be important because not every student who wishes to go toWiHi can go.

  39. Posted December 6, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    It may have changed over the last year, but when I talked with the former principal, I believe he told that they hadn’t had to turn anyway away, Jcp2. Of course, some kids may have started, only to eventually drop out due to the pace. But I don’t believe they’d gotten to the point where they had to institute a lottery, like Community High.

  40. Posted December 6, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    And this isn’t to say that it may be more difficult to get into now that they’re the top scoring high school in Washtenaw County. They very well could have already started a lottery system for next year. I just wanted to point out that, to my knowledge, they haven’t turned people away, regardless of their test scores, etc. Or at least that is my understanding.

  41. Jcp2
    Posted December 6, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    I was thinking more about transportation needs, if any, although if it becomes more desirable, there may a lottery like at Community, or possible testing cutoffs, like other high school magnets, which it essentially is functioning as. One could argue that the barriers to entry help with student success as defined by traditional measures, as it leads to self selection to more motivated and/or well to do families.

  42. Posted December 6, 2014 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Lisa on all points, ESPECIALLY that EMU needs to stop SPRAYING LIFE-KILLING CHEMICALS ALL OVER THE PLACE! Yikes. I guess they are too lazy to weed whack….. The pesticides are killing their grass…. it looks like crap. Weed whacking and edging makes it look PRETTY, not burned up like pesticides. How can we get them to stop? I was wondering the other day that, since we have a “no phosphorus in fertilizer” law in Ypsi, couldn’t we somehow ban pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides? i.e. Roundup all the Round-up???

  43. Demetrius
    Posted December 7, 2014 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    @ createharmony

    This is perhaps a bit off (the original) topic — but I agree with Lisa, as well, but figured I was the only one who noticed …

    I walk and ride my bike a lot, and I always notice several times a year (from spring through late fall) that EMU literally DOUSES their entire campus in weed killers — so much so that you can smell it in the air for days. … From what I know about how EMU is run, I always just figured that somebody who owns a local landscaping company must have a $weetheart deal.

  44. Posted December 7, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    They should just plant plants which poison the soil and kill everything around them. Then EMU would not have to use “like killing chemicals.”

  45. Posted December 7, 2014 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    The chemicals kill likes.

  46. Posted December 7, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Why do some Ypsilantians see themselves only in terms of Ann Arbor?

    Can’t Ypsi stand on its own? If not, and Ypsi has to makes its case based on being “not Ann Arbor,” then why should anyone live there?

    Personally, if someone were to try to convince me to live somewhere, merely having “fewer corporate stores” is not a selling point. (Is there even evidence for this? Or does the readership of MM.com simply choose to ignore the numerous family and solely owned Ann Arbor businesses?)

    Walkability isn’t even a selling point. Ypsi is far less walk able than Ann Arbor.

    Farmers markets are also a poor selling point. Ann Arbor’s farmers market is far older than any currently operating in Ypsi.

    Cultural events… while the Art Fair certainly blows, it is hard to make a case that Ypsi has more quality cultural events than Ann Arbor. At this point, is there even a place for a band to play, that isn’t made up of white haired guys playing “Lay Down Sally?”

    As for high rents. I’ve lived in and around Ann Arbor off and on since 1988. It has always been expensive. My parents, way back in 1971, lived in Saline because they couldn’t afford Ann Arbor.

    Ypsi is not noticeably cheaper than Ann Arbor for home owners, given that its taxes are through the roof, and public services poor. Moreover, good luck selling your house when it’s time to leave.

    The only case ever made on this site for living in Ypsi over anywhere else is that “cool people live here.” While I agree that “cool people” do live in Ypsi, that’s a pretty poor way to sell a town where there are so many other negatives, particularly if you have a family and want to buy property.

    While certain things in Ypsi have improved over the past 25 years that I’ve been going there, it still have many, many challenges some of which some of the readership of this site seem either to be willfully ignoring or wholly oblivious to.

    I certainly don’t make a hobby of bashing Ypsi, but the tone on this site regarding Ypsi seems to be disconnected from reality, or merely a knee jerk against an imagined bugaboo of Ann Arbor.

    Sorry to say, but until Ypsi can sell itself on its own terms and work out some of its political, structural and economic problems, it will go nowhere.

  47. Demetrius
    Posted December 7, 2014 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    @ Peter Larson

    Interesting.

  48. Posted December 8, 2014 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    @DEmetrius….. I don’t go on campus too much… must be my instincts that it is full of chemicals. Yikes. Where does this all runoff to? It must end up in the river…. CAn’t we ask them to stop, maybe help them start a volunteer program for people to weed whack? smh…..

    I’m not sure why people think that Ypsi isn’t walkable. That’s my main mode of transpo…. and it’s just beautiful to walk around here. Riverside and Frog Island and the mighty Huron are stunning. I think we have one of the prettiest towns anywhere.

    And I am qualified to make this judgment: ANN ARBOR HAS SOLD OUT. I am sure there are still some good people there, but they are probably rich and out of touch with the common folk. lol I am sure I will get more flack for saying that, but it is just my U of M educated opinion, so take it for what it is worth. ha ha

    I am happy that a lot of people prefer Ann ARbor. Please stay there. Let us keep the hidden gem of Ypsi for ourselves. lol I probably shouldn’t even tell anyone how great it is, cuz then more people will try to move here in droves and raise the rent to where i can’t even afford it. ha ha

  49. kjc
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Peter, until you stop being obsessed with how Ypsi is not Ann Arbor you’ll come off as nothing but a hater. I seriously think you have issues with mark you need to work out. Couldn’t you move on to some blog out of Brooklyn and bash everyone who prefers it over Manhattan (and dares to say so). Or tell people in Oakland how much they suck compared to SF. Or find some people in Detroit who extol its virtues over the suburbs and explain how shitty their community is in actuality. Your warriorship against comparison and against underdog communities should choose a new target. I personally don’t care who moves here. I mean we don’t even have a farmer’s market as old as ann arbor’s! What a bunch of hacks.

    Don’t you have any close friends who will tell you that you project all your psychological issues as instrumental reason? Education actually makes it worse in your case, as in many academics. Perpetual passive aggression gets old.

  50. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I find Peter’s assessments of Ypsilanti insightful and valuable because they seem true and are against the grain of most opinions on this blog…

  51. Dan
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    kjc, you are a very angry person. Maybe you’re the one that needs some self reflection

  52. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    KJC, I agree with Dan. You seem like a smart enough person but you spend a crazy amount of time trying to put people down rather than adding to the conversation.

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