Press enter after choosing selection

Hurry! Buy Huron River Drive Site For Park, City Urged

Hurry! Buy Huron River Drive Site For Park, City Urged image
Parent Issue
Copyright Protected
Rights Held By
Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.
OCR Text

Wj .ie city should move with Laste to purchase the 27-acre Henry F. Kuebler property for park land because developer Stephen F. Slavik's option to buy the site for a high-rise apartment complex expired Monday, noted landscape architect Miss Genevieve Gillette said last night. Miss Gillette said the price of the land - now estimated at $100,000 - will go up if Slavik obtains another six-month option. "This is the first time we've been this close,'" she said. She was one of 15 persons present at the second informal hearing which has befh held on park-land acquisition by a three-man City Council subcommittee. The subcommittee hopes to recommend priorities for park-land purchase by the city which will use $1 million set aside for acquisition from the $3.5 million issue okayed by voters in April 1971. The controversy swirling about the Kuebler property, located at Huron River Drive and M-14, is more than three years old. Council has twice turned down a porposed rezoning which would have al1 o w e d Slavik's apartment development. However, the city's Plan. mng Department stül favors I residential development on I t h e site w h i 1 e the Parks I Department feels it should be I purchased for a park. I The two departments prei sented their recommendations for park-land acquisition to council early this year. Of the Kuebler parcel as a park site, Miss Gillette said: "Eight and one-half acres are suitable to be built on; the rest is very good natural I área with nice patches of I common flowers. There is a I stream which appears to be I unpolluted." The area shoüld not be used I for a high-rise, she said, I cause Hurón River Drive is a "park road," and not built to hand Ie the traffic which i would result from the apartments. She said the State Highway Department has not found a way to overeóme the I problems that would be I rJhe GirI Sdouts' HmtP I Camp adjoins the area as I does part of the Bird Hills i f L' r - One of the decisions the council will have to make is how much money to allocate for small neighborhood miniparks in the inner-city. The Parks Department favors setting aside 30 per cent of the funds for such parks while the Planning Department has settled on a 40 per cent figure. Miss Gillette was asked by Third Ward Cou'ncilman son K. Meade, subcommittee chairman, to comment on neighborhood parks because of her expertise. She was also specific on that topic : "On the whole these parks have been a failure in other cities" said Miss Gillette, "and matching funds (f rom federal and state government) are hard to get for them. The reasons for faüure may not be the same at all the parks but there may be one which is common: such a park is an ecological unit which is out of place." She noted particularly that in Detroit - where the minipark concept has had negative results - trees have trouble growing because of the polluted air. Though she admitted that might not occur in Ann Arbor, j Miss Gillette said, "it amuses I me when people in the neigh1 borhoods say they'll take care I of these parks. They require a very special attention that even the best parks department may not be able to provide. Besides, the citizenry changes. "If it were my decisión, I'd I 1 o o k at these small open space proposals very critical ly . . . and then probably turn them down." Michael Morris of the S. University Neighborhood Improvement Association countered Miss Gillette's contentions. He and se ver al other members of his group present last night urged that the city purchase their privately owned half-acre mini-park on S. University Avenue at Walnut Street. Morris pointed to mini-park programs in Philadelphia which have been successful, he claims. Morris said he has talked with officials responsible for some 145 mini-parks in Philadelphia. "In Philadelphia, the parks are put where the people want them. The city will do anything that is feasible and I there is a little bit of everyI thing from children's parks to senior citizens' areaLll__ Admitting the failures of" mini-parks in Detroit, Morris said "that doesn't mean lt will fail here." He feels that the program was unsuccessful in Detroit because parks and planning departments came into conflict and "parks were imposed f rom the outside." He also cited pressures he said came from Detroit's Model Cities program and United Auto Wórkers. Morris suggested that the council subcommittèe entertain suggestions from neighborhoods in the city which want parks. He suggested that they be built upon local demand or on sites where there are condemned buildings. Morris also admitted that neighborhood mini-parks are "incredibly expensive" compared to bigger parks "but the cost should be computed based on the amount of people served." He said 800 people live in the three-block vicinity of the S. University park. "You talk as though these people are underprivileged," Fourth W a r d Councilman Bruce Benner told Morris. "I think there has to be a1 balance," added Benner, who is also a member of the subcommittèe. A third member of the subcommittèe, Second Ward Councilwoman Nancy Wechsler, has not attended either of the informal hearings, the first of which was July 19. Ulrich Stoll of the Citizens I Association for Area Planning (CAAP) said "we can't put priorities on either mini-parks or larger parks." But he called for "forthright" purchase of the Kuebler site and presented C A A P ' s list of lands which the city could possibly delay the purchase of for various reasons if necessary to buy the Kuebler land. These included a one-acre, $30,000 site at Sunset and Brooks; two acres at Arlington and Geddes with a $40,000 price tag; the 10-acres $60,000 Pearl Porperty; a $12,000 two-acre site near the Winchell School; 25 acres in the southwest sector of the city, south of 1-94 valued at $125,000; and the four-acre $70,000 historical Campbell property adjacent to Burh Park on Packard Street. M r s . Elizabeth Leonard, chairman of the land use study group of the League of Women Voters (LWV) precontprt au T, W V statement which "clearly supports both I the creation of inner-city ' parks and the preservation of irreplaceable natural áreas. ' The question is not which, but I how do we get the bestf possible balance with the available ' funds. Using too great a ( portion of our funds for small t spaces means that many of the natural assets which I m a k e Ann A r b o r unique 1 would be destroyed. i "Such properties as I Scarlett-Mitchell Woods, thel Johnson-Greene land, the 1 ter Lakes drainage basin and I the Kuebler property are viously fragüe áreas where use should be severly restricted ... High priority should be given to the land adjacent to the Kempf House before there is any further I ment there which would raise I prohibitivity the cost of the I land." j Also speaking in favor the ] Kempf House area (a I acre site estimated to cost I $170,000; were Wyston Stevens, curator of the museum, and Frank Wilhelme, chairman of the Historical District Commission. George Owers, director of the Parks Department, said application to the federal government for matching funds to help with the Kempf House area land purchase have been made. Owers also said he didn't know how much in grants could be obtained to help defray purchase price for the Kuebler property. It has been estimated that grants could ( take care of perhaps 50 per cent of the dost and a local J fund-raising drive, which the I Preserve the Huron Valley Association has agreed to I mount, might raise about 1 000. The Parks Department director also said he is flexible I on the exact amount of land I which the city might purchase I in the Scarlett-Mitchell School area. The total parcel is 37 ] acres but he is proposing thaM i the schools retain a portion. I The subcommittee also I heard Mrs. Leah Gunn 1 courage use of Burns Park I for a proposed ■ cultural arts I center because the park 1 ceives such heavy use now. I Morris suggested that the I subcommittee set one more of I its "informal" hearings after I Labor Day so vacationing I residents can express their I views, particularly those I questing neighborhood parks. - - = Meade said he would anlounce the thirda- and probasly final - hearing date in the near future. Benner point:d out that the pjyitond acluisitions wil] i.jHsubject o a public he-5f before :ouncil makes its final deci__ wion. Meade had originally hoped I to report to the council by Sept, 1 but has revised that date to mid-September.