Press enter after choosing selection

A Team of Horses To Remove Ash Trees From New Branch Library Site

by TimG

Individuals passing by Traverwood Drive at Huron Parkway next Wednesday will see an unusual sight. A sturdy team of draft horses will be assisting in the tree removal process as site construction for Ann Arbor’s newest branch library continues.

Early next week, some of the dead ash trees remaining on the site will be cut down. Wednesday, March 7 at 9:00 am, (weather permitting) a team of draft horses from the firm of Johnson Hardwood Floors will arrive. At 10 am, the horses will be begin to pull the dead logs from the site.

The process, which should take several hours, is in keeping with the Library’s pledge of sustainable practices. Removing the dead logs in this way limits root damage to the remaining trees on the site. The ash trees will then be milled and used as building material for the new branch.

The construction manager for the new branch library is O‘Neal Construction, Inc. The architects for the building are Van Tine|Guthrie Studio and the landscape architects are Grissim Metz Andriese Associates.

The new library is being constructed on 4.34 acres of vacant land, located on the southwest corner of Traverwood Drive and Huron Parkway in Ann Arbor, and will be a one-story building of approximately 16,500 square feet. It will serve as a community-based learning center that delivers superior customer service, primarily to the residents of the northeast quadrant of Ann Arbor.

While its primary mission is to deliver traditional library services, the facility will also include a casual study area with vending and a meeting room. The branch will house an expanded collection, consisting of traditional materials, such as books, magazines, and DVDs, as well as new formats as they are introduced.

The facility will also contain a reading room for comfortable, leisurely reading and several quiet study and tutor rooms for patron use. Electronic resources will include many public computer terminals. Other library services will include self-service stations for convenient checkout.

Ninety parking spaces will be available in three locations: on the street, under the building and on an open lot to the south.

Both the building and the surrounding landscape will capitalize on environmental principles, thereby allowing the overall project to operate in harmony with the ecosystem and the community it serves. The building is designed to hug the corner with as little impact on natural features as possible. Sustainable design features include an innovative stormwater management system.

The library will teach, by example, responsible coexistence with the natural environment.


Is the new location on a bus route? Will it be accessible by walking? Residents at Parkway Meadows apartments are able to walk from home to the current location in the Plymouth mall. Is that still the case for the new location? If the new library is only accessible by car, then it is not sustainably built regardless of the use of draft horses to remove trees. The sustainable course of action is to avoid new land development and instead transform already developed land/buildings that are connected to the existing city infrastructure (sidewalks, bus lines). The Plymouth mall businesses will suffer due to the loss of the library branch (economic sustainability) as will residents of Ann Arbor who are able to access the current location by bus and walking.

The library director's comment said that the distance was "point" 5 miles (as in one half) not 5 miles. I admit that the "point" is small and hard to see. I'm not sure if the use of horses to remove the trees saves energy or not. I think that the reason for using them is that horses do not tear up the forest floor as the way motorized vehicles do. The less you disturb the forest floor the healthier it will be.

[relocated from <a href="">myspace thread</a> ]

re: bus access, etc. I was curious about some of those things myself and looked it up on Google maps. Turns out the new site is quite close...about 3000 feet up Huron Parkway. Someone else will have to answer about bus routes, but I'm glad to see that the new site is as close as is possible to build a new building. Which, I must observe, is really become quite the necessity...the current branch has gotten so busy that on a cold and snowy winter day with everybody in their wintry clothes the humidity in the place goes out the roof, which emphasizes the omnipresent claustrophobia...ok, it's not that bad, but the space is way too small to be comfortable!

The new library is about .5 miles from the current location. Thank you gbrady for the additional information. Your comments on how small and cramped the current location can be are true and one of the reasons that the Library chose to build a building. We are very glad, too, that it is so close to the current library branch.

The library is being built on the corner of Huron Parkway and Traverwood. The sidewalks and streetlights that are there now will remain or be replaced before the building opens. An AATA bus does run on Huron Parkway and there are stops within a block of the library site.

Thanks to you both for taking the time to send in your thoughts and questions on the project.

Josie Parker

The new library is not 5 miles from present location, it is about 2 - 3 blocks from the current mall site and is even closer to Parkwood than the current site. I think it is going to be wonderful.

I drove by at 12:45 and didn't see horses, only their trailer. Are they done or were they having lunch? ;-)

The horses are on site, but the trees are spread throughout the site and are being dragged to loading areas on the extreme south and north edges of the site. It is not possible to see the horses except when they are on the edges. The public is not allowed in the woods because trees are being cut down while the horses are at work.

Over 30 people were present to see the horses unloaded and begin their work around 10:30 AM.


Thanks for the update--I only drove by and would not attempt to enter the site. I work during the day and so could only stop by for a hopeful glimpse during lunch. Alas!

How interesting... I submitted a post last week questioning whether clearing the land with horses was a real move toward a sustainable lifestyle or just a symbolic gesture that actually cost more energy than it saved. But my post was never posted.... I guess differing opinions are not welcome here.

I think that the reason for using horses is that they don't tear up the forest floor the way a motorized vehicle does. The less we disturb the ground the better.

Concerning using horses, it is stated in the article <em>Removing the dead logs in this way limits root damage to the remaining trees on the site. The ash trees will then be milled and used as building material for the new branch.</em>

I think the library and the City of Ann Arbor should be commended for taking such steps in the construction of the library. I can remember when construction was being done along Jackson road years ago and the developer just took a bulldozer and pushed all the trees into one pile and burned them. Oak, ash, walnut, it didn't matter. Contrast that with the above statement and you can see that it truly is sustainable.

It would be great if more people accessed the library by walking, biking or taking the bus. The new branches at Mallets Creek and Pittsfield run out of parking spaces during busy times. I try and bike to the branches, weather permitting.

Great idea! Hats off to your architects. Thanks for taking care of the pileated woodpeckers. Could you post some photos of the progress?

Good luck with the rest of the project!

Graphic for blog posts

Blog Post