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A2 City News, January 2021 (PDF), Volume 15, Number 1 (originally distributed Dec. 29, 2020, via email to "resident newsletter: A2 City News" subscribers)
City holiday schedule
City municipal offices are closed New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, and will reopen at 7:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 4. While trash and recycling collections will take place as usual on Thursday, Dec. 31, there will be no trash or recycling collection on New Year's Day, Friday, Jan. 1. Instead, regular Friday collections will take place the next day, Saturday, Jan. 2.
Please note, because of COVID-19, Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution waiving interest charges for tax payments received in January and February. All tax payments, therefore, must be received by Feb. 28, 2021, to avoid being turned over to the Washtenaw County Treasurer. Learn more about property taxes, including how they are calculated, at http://www.a2gov.org/departments/finance-admin-services/treasury/Pages/TreasuryDivision.aspx.
The City of Ann Arbor wishes you a happy, safe and healthy new year!
As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, please remember to keep yourself, your friends, family and fellow community members healthy with these simple practices:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
- Maintain a distance of 6 feet apart from those outside your household.
- Wear a face covering over nose and mouth when in enclosed places and crowded outdoor spaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
Ann Arbor Larcom City Hall remains closed to the public through Friday, Jan. 15, per the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' (MDHHS) extended order. The city continues to conduct all non-essential operations remotely. For details about remote city services and the city's response to COVID-19, please visit www.a2gov.org/COVID19. For comprehensive information about the virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at https://www.cdc.gov/.
In addition, the Washtenaw County Health Department notes the flu vaccine is recommended every year for everyone 6 months and older, adding it is especially important this year because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more at https://www.washtenaw.org/1885/Flu-Activity.
Quality Water Matters
The January issue of Quality Water Matters includes an overview of important projects that were completed in 2020 as well as the December water quality dashboard report. Read QWM at https://www.a2gov.org/departments/water-treatment/PublishingImages/Pages/default/quality_water_matters_newsletter_jan_2021.pdf (PDF).
Red meter bags signal convenient (and responsible!) carryout parking
Shopping and dining with local merchants can help sustain business owners, their employees and Ann Arbor's vibrant and unique quality of life. To support these businesses, free, 15-minute curbside carryout parking spaces in downtown Ann Arbor are designated by red meter bags (orange bags were used previously). Signage also indicates "no parking | 15 minute loading/unloading." These designated spaces are in support of the curbside carryout service many restaurants and retailers are relying on and enable enforcement of the 15-minute parking limit. Please note, those (mis)using the spaces for longer-term parking, over the 15-minute limit, may be ticketed.
Before you retrieve your carryout order, or if you're getting curbside delivery, please be sure to turn off your engine while you wait in, or while you're away from, your vehicle. Did you know? Vehicle idling constitutes 1.6% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, which is double the total emissions from the steel and iron manufacturing in the country! Ann Arbor has an ordinance in place prohibiting vehicle idling to prevent unnecessary emissions. Learn more about protecting air quality at https://www.a2gov.org/departments/sustainability/Sustainability%20Natural%20Resources/Pages/Air.aspx.
Thank you for working together to support local businesses and to protect the environment!
Christmas tree free drop-off sites
While Christmas trees cannot be discarded on the street or be left out on extensions, the City of Ann Arbor instead provides four free drop-off locations for undecorated Christmas trees through Monday, Jan. 18, 2021.
The four park locations will be open for Christmas tree drop offs during normal park hours, 6 a.m.–10 p.m. The collected trees will be chipped on a regular basis at the park sites. The drop-off locations are:
1. Southeast Area Park located on Ellsworth at Platt. Trees may be left at the dirt lot north of the basketball courts.
2. West Park parking lot off Chapin near West Huron Street.
3. Gallup Boat Launch parking lot (not the Gallup Livery), entrance on the southeast side of Geddes Road, East of Huron Parkway.
4. Olson Park parking lot, 1515 Dhu Varren Road, near Pontiac Trail.
For more information on disposal of Christmas trees, winter composting and other recycling and trash information, please visit www.a2gov.org/solidwaste.
The City of Ann Arbor Office of Sustainability and Innovation (OSI) is sharing updates and opportunities to advance the A2ZERO goals.
In November, OSI launched the A2ZERO Ambassadors program. Ambassadors are residents interested in learning about the various ways the city and the community can advance sustainability and carbon neutrality. Ambassadors are then given the tools to help operationalize that information. All ambassadors are committed to attending a nine-week training course, supporting the implementation of a community project that advances sustainability, and conducting at least 20 hours of additional volunteer work in support of community sustainability and carbon neutrality (i.e., speak at events, talk to neighbors and peers, host community learning sessions, lead local projects). This is the first ambassador's cohort, but OSI plans to run another cohort in 2021. Learn more at www.a2gov.org/sustainability.
Calling for participants! As Ann Arbor's Solarize program enters its second year, OSI is gathering interest from residents who would like to participate in 2021. Solarize is a community-centered, group-buy program that brings neighbors and friends together to learn about residential solar and explore whether it is a good fit for them. If you would like to attend a future meeting or help gather neighbors and community members for a group, let OSI know! To learn more or see discounts offered through the program, please visit www.a2gov.org/solar.
OSI has been working on a draft set of energy criteria and principles to help guide energy-related investments necessary to meet A2ZERO. These principles will be discussed with City Council at a working session in January and re-presented to the Energy and Environmental commissions in January. OSI plans to bring the final set of principles to City Council for formal adoption in early 2021, as they will be instrumental when seeking solutions to achieve some goals identified in A2ZERO. Review the draft principles at www.a2gov.org/sustainability.
The University of Michigan will soon be releasing their draft recommendations on achieving carbon neutrality. These recommendations will be open for public comment until mid-January. The public is encouraged to review these recommendations, which will be posted on http://sustainability.umich.edu/carbonneutrality.
Are you interested in greenhouse gas emissions tracking? OSI has updated its website, created a video and published a report that dives more deeply into how greenhouse gas emissions is calculated. Learn more and check out these resources on the city's sustainability website at www.a2gov.org/sustainability.
Join OSI at one of the following upcoming events. Register and see more events, which are being added weekly, on the city's public calendar at https://calendar.a2gov.org/CalendarNOW.aspx?fromdate=12/1/2020&todate=12/31/2020&display=Month&more=1/1/0001:
- OSI has updated its website! If you haven't yet, please check it out at www.a2gov.org/sustainability.
- OSI has launched a YouTube channel! Did you miss an event, or do you want to see what OSI has been up to? Check out the new YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGt5xJTxnyY&list=PLw6eY79a9rp8SUIhKeJXX85L1gwhKLN7v.
- Remember that the Sustaining Ann Arbor Together grant program is available to those who have ideas for how to advance sustainability in the public right of way. Learn more and apply on the sustainability website, www.a2gov.org/sustainability.
- The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association has recognized the A2ZERO Ambassadors and the Solarize Program as the GLREA Exemplary Project of the Year.
Enjoy winter in the Ann Arbor parks
If you're looking for something to do in the Ann Arbor parks this winter, consider shopping local at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, which is open every Saturday, 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Visit www.a2gov.org/market for details. Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation also has volunteer opportunities scheduled in January and throughout the winter. Visit https://www.a2gov.org/departments/Parks-Recreation/NAP/volunteering/Pages/CurrentVolunteerOpportunities.aspx for registration information.
With more than 160 parks in the system, there's no shortage of outdoor adventures to be discovered. While the competition has passed, you can still participate in the Visit Every Park Challenge on your own. Go to the website, https://www.a2gov.org/departments/Parks-Recreation/GIVE365/Pages/Visit-Every-Park-Challenge.aspx, to view and download the guide to help you on your journey.
There are also countless trails, paths and natural areas for you to walk or hike. Visit https://www.a2gov.org/departments/Parks-Recreation/parks-places/Pages/default.aspx to find each park listed alphabetically plus a corresponding PDF map. You can view the parks by their amenities as well. Get out and about this winter! Please wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart from others outside your household.
Ann Arbor Inclusive — The Leslie Science and Nature Center strives to connect people to the outdoor world through environmental education and discovery. With 30 acres of wooded space, live birds of prey onsite, and a long list of STEM-based programming, their mission is to provide opportunities for all audiences to learn, explore and experience the natural world around us. Learn more at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D6f4M5Bzfc&t=1s.
FYI Year in Review — Take a trip through Washtenaw County in 2020 during the Year in Review. Watch as families Skate with Heroes, experience STEM through the Elementary Engineering Education Day, visit the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History planetarium, start new exercise routines with the Aviary and Bollywood Fitness, daddies and daughters got their dance on, HSHV's Knitty Cats, art evolved with UMMA, EMU Poets tackled taboo social issues, the AADL went miniature and Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation celebrated the winter through Snow Much Fun and the annual Ice Carving Festival. See it all at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4M5Ar6wBVwE&t=14s.
Green Room — Michael Garfield, executive director of the Ecology Center, discusses the founding of the 50-year-old center, a result of the first Earth Day Teach-in held in Ann Arbor, and the decades of environmental activism in Michigan as seen through the lens of the Ecology Center's growth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DTbNoVGPoY&t=236s.
Santa Satellite Network 2020 — Watch as Santa, Mrs. Claus and some friendly elves bring the giving season to life as they chat with families that share their wishes for the 2020 holiday season. Tune in to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WM2aTQYY78Y&t=7044s.
Senior Moments — Katie Monkiewicz of the Ann Arbor District Library Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled discusses the organization and show devices to help individuals with vision problems. Watch at https://youtu.be/yGu4Du4dJy4.
Senior Moments — Brittany Ruthven, City of Ann Arbor Recreation supervisor as well as Ann Arbor Senior Center director, talks about events and activities at the center and the recent situation that the center has been facing during COVID-19: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8idHRGecqZM&t=160s.
Ward Talk — Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor is the special guest at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO4Ji7IJEIw&t=1s.
Budget process set to begin
Budget planning discussions for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 will begin with City Council work sessions in 2021. Fiscal year 2022 begins on July 1, 2021, and ends June 30, 2022. City Council members can only adopt one fiscal year at a time even though the city plans for multi-year budgets.
City Council work sessions:
The below Council work session discussions are scheduled with noted service units to discuss draft budgets. These meetings will be held virtually at 7 p.m. Meetings are streamed live https://ctnvideo.a2gov.org/CablecastPublicSite/watch/3?channel=1 and are available to view later via CTN's YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/ctnannarbor. All presentations and materials will be available on the city's website at https://www.a2gov.org/departments/finance-admin-services/financial-reporting/budget-guide/Pages/BudgetPublicProcess.aspx.
Feb. 8: City Administrator Area, Finance, Police, Fire, Courts and Community Services.
Feb. 22: Pension, Ann Arbor Housing Commission.
March 8: Public Services.
March 22: Downtown Development Authority and Smartzone.
January–March: Council work sessions tentatively planned.
April: In accordance with City Charter, the city administrator's recommended fiscal year 2022 budget is submitted to City Council on April 19, 2021. City Council members can only adopt one fiscal year at a time even though the city plans for multi-year budgets.
May: City Council, with at least seven affirmative votes, must adopt the budget no later than its second meeting in May (May 17).
Budget-related feedback or comments are encouraged and may be submitted via email to email@example.com.
Lower Town Area Mobility Study Survey
The city is at the idea-generation phase of the Lower Town Area Mobility Study and would like to hear more from the community. Please take a few minutes to participate in a survey, https://www.opentownhall.com/portals/116/Issue_10055, and share your experiences traveling through Lower Town and any ideas that you have for mobility improvements in the area. The survey will be open until Jan. 12, 2021.
Move information about this project can be found at www.a2gov.org/lowertown.
Snow and ice management reminders
Winter has arrived. Here's what you need to know when it comes to snow (and ice).
Property owners are responsible for removing and/or treating snow/ice on sidewalks, crosswalk ramps and bus stops with concrete pads adjacent to their property. Please also be on the lookout for ways to help neighbors clear sidewalks, especially during difficult times. Working together can create a safer and more walkable community that helps each of us to travel, exercise and keep safe distances. Let's care for one another this winter.
Within 24-hours, any accumulation of snow greater than 1 inch must be cleared by the owner or occupant from adjacent sidewalks, concrete bus stop walks and crosswalk ramps. Any ice accumulations within 18-hours of forming must be treated with sand, salt or other substance, to prevent it from becoming slippery. The city is not responsible for clearing mailboxes of snow and/or ice.
All snow and ice which has accumulated prior to 6 a.m. on a sidewalk adjacent to property not zoned residential shall be removed by the owner or occupant by noon the same day. The owner or occupant of the property shall also remove snow and ice from walks and ramps that are at bus stops or that lead to a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Provided that when ice has so formed upon any sidewalk, walk or ramp that it cannot be removed, then the owner or occupant shall keep the same effectively sprinkled with sand, salt or other suitable substance in such manner as to prevent the ice from being dangerous, until such time as it can be removed, and then it shall be promptly removed.
Find more information about snow and ice management on the city website, https://www.a2gov.org/departments/police/units/Pages/Snow-and-Ice-Removal-on-Sidewalks.aspx.
Free sand/salt for residents
During the winter, the city provides residents with up to five gallons of a sand/salt mixture, per visit, at various locations around Ann Arbor to help treat sidewalks. Residents need to bring their own shovel and bucket as well as load material themselves from the marked piles. Sand/salt mixture is not for contractors or landscapers. Material is available as of Monday, Nov. 30. Locations for pick up include:
- Veterans Memorial Park.
- Gallup Park.
- Almendinger Park.
- 721 N. Main St.
- Buhr Park.
- Burns Park.
- Leslie Park.
More information on city snow removal can be found at www.a2gov.org/snow.
Citizens survey identifies quality of life as city strength, cost of living and housing as concerns
In July and August, 2,700 randomly selected residents were asked to provide opinions on city services, amenities and their quality of life in Ann Arbor via the National Citizen Survey (NCS), a collaborative effort between National Research Center Inc. (NRC) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). This statistically valid survey captured opinions of a representative sample of 548 Ann Arbor residents.
According to the NCS Community Livability Report, “Overall quality of community life represents the natural ambience, services and amenities that make for an attractive community." How residents rate their overall quality of life is an indicator of the overall health of a community. In the case of Ann Arbor, 90 percent rated the city as an “excellent" or “good" place to live.
More information on the recent NCS, including links to the reports, can be found at https://www.a2gov.org/news/pages/article.aspx?i=752.
Water meter upgrade reminder
The City of Ann Arbor water meter upgrade project is underway. Letters are being sent to homeowners to share information on how to schedule their water meter replacement. The newer equipment that will be installed uses the latest metering technology and has a longer battery life.
The city knows the trepidation some might feel letting contractors into your place of business or residence. The contractor for this project, UMS, is taking every precaution to keep you, your employees and family members safe by following strict COVID-19 safety procedures. These steps include:
- Physical distancing.
- Face coverings.
- Use of gloves.
- Routine cleaning and disinfecting of equipment.
- Daily temperature checks and screening.
The city understands that some may still feel uncomfortable scheduling an appointment at this time. If so, please contact UMS, using the phone number on your letter, to request temporarily delaying the installation.
For details, including an informational video, visit www.a2gov.org/meterupgrade.
- Ann Arbor has been named the 2021 Best College City in America according to WalletHub.com. The personal finance outlet considered factors such as a reasonable cost of living, good academic and work opportunities and a fun social environment when ranking A2 at the top of their list. Learn more at https://wallethub.com/edu/e/best-worst-college-cities-and-towns-in-america/8974.
- In its seventh annual study, SmartAsset crunched ranked the most fitness-friendly places nationwide. The Ann Arbor area places in the top 10 for places to get physically fit in 2021. More than 301 metro areas were analyzed. Read more at https://smartasset.com/checking-account/most-fitness-friendly-places-for-2021.
- First Street has been named one of America's best new bikeways of 2020 by PeopleForBikes. Learn more at https://peopleforbikes.org/blog/americas-best-new-bikeways-2020.
- Library Journal's annual national ratings of public libraries gives the Ann Arbor District Library five stars for the 13th consecutive year. Ratings were determined based on circulation of physical and electronic materials, library visits and program attendance, public internet users, Wi-Fi sessions and e-retrievals (usage of online content like databases). Read more at https://www.clickondetroit.com/all-about-ann-arbor/2020/12/22/ann-arbor-district-library-named-five-star-library-for-13th-consecutive-year/?fbclid=IwAR0u1SVbGukzZ8puO0Z9GL6futUSoHX5wrydhas-LeJjX5rWPNcmQzX_PyI&__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar. Congratulations to AADL!
- Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation GIVE 365 Program has received the mParks 2021 award for Innovative Programming for its Visit Every Park (VEP) initiative. GIVE 365 developed VEP this year for use during the pandemic (and beyond). mParks, https://www.mparks.org/, is the statewide agency for all park systems in Michigan.
- The city has received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association for the fiscal year 2021 budget presentation (http://www.gfoa.org/). This award is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting and reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest budgeting principles. In order to receive the budget award, nationally recognized guidelines had to be met, demonstrating how well an entity's budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device. More information about the city's financial reporting can be found at https://www.a2gov.org/departments/finance-admin-services/financial-reporting/Pages/default.aspx.
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The city's mission is to deliver exceptional services that sustain and enhance a vibrant, safe and diverse community.
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Tom Crawford, City Administrator,
John Fournier, Assistant City Administrator,
Michael Cox, Police Chief,
Matthew Horningtcrawford@a2gov.org , Interim Financial and Administrative Services Area Administrator,
Derek Delacourt, Community Services Area Administrator,
Craig Hupy, Public Services Area Administrator,
Mike Kennedy, Fire Chief,