I very much enjoyed your article on trees "Giants Among Us" [April 1997]. We are interested in opening a public discussion on ways to preserve a voice over the appropriate uses of significant public spaces in our community. Nichols Arboretum is currently being used to conduct "search and destroy" military training [ROTC] exercises. This nature preserve is within a brief walk from campus, downtown, and the inner tier neighborhoods of the city , with 1 00,000 visitors a year. It is partly owned by the University of Michigan and partly by the City of Ann Arbor. The issue is preserving a voice for the community in determining appropriate use. Citizens have much more say when the city, answerable to the City Council periodically up for re-election, manages public property to make sure residents of Ann Arbor can continue to use and enjoy this public space. I personally think that the use of Nichols Arboretum for military training exercises is inappropriate because of safety concerns, the incompatibility with other users and the harm caused to the plant specimens. I know that the City, the University and Ann Arbor Public Schools are currently considering the issue of transferring the City's property interest in the Arboretum to the University, effectively ending any opportunity for Ann Arbor residents to have a voice in determining the appropriate uses of this intímate nature preserve in the heart of the city. The time to act is now. Nichols Arboretum. Trees, and a whole lot more. Think. Act.
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