3 pieces of City parkland may be put to voters for possible disposal

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The Traverse City City Commission will discus ballot language to dispose or sell parkland at three separate locations at tonight’s Study Session at 7:00 PM.

Here’s the agenda and packet (PDF) and it is also embedded below.

The first two ballot initiatives are connected to the ongoing community interest of ameliorating issues involved with Division St. (GV) and the third involves selling all or some of the now undeveloped portion of the Oakwood Cemetery (RE).

Tonight is the first time the commissioners have reviewed ballot language in a public meeting. Hopefully, the public views an actual discussion so that we can get a sense of how the City intends to pursue these initiatives. If the commission approves the ballot language before August 27 (now planned for the July 16th meeting), then voters will see them on the Nov. 6 ballots.

15-acres of undeveloped parkland possibly up for sale. 

The Issues

  • Oakwood Cemetery: The City subsidizes the cemetery to between $200-300,000 annually. They have taken measures this year to reduce that number (increased rates, maintenance changes) yet it will still remain high as there is only so much business a cemetery can do in a year. Hence, why it is also considered a park to serve the community in an appropriate way. There is a 15-acre parcel now undeveloped and slated for future cemetery along Airport Access. Some City Commissioners have expressed interest in selling this portion for development and to put the money received in the sale back in the cemetery trust fund. Unfortunately, that money would be split among 5 other government entities.
  • Division Street: A vote to use current parkland to expand the right of way up to 30-feet to the west of the current location. The ballot initiative only includes property between 14th and 8th St. An affirmative vote by the voters would theoretically allow MDOT to begin the process for long-term plans for this area, however without any money tied to the project by the City, the region, or the State, it’s unclear as to the process moving forward.
  • 8-1/2 Street: An additional ballot measure would consider a new street that would run directly through the northern edge of what is now the Women’s Walk. The measure would seek the disposal of 66-feet of right of way to connect Elmwood Avenue east to Division St. This street has been discussed before, but it has never been given consideration to this level and in 2010 was considered a low-priority.
Tonight’s study session is a good opportunity to raise questions about the process and goals moving forward.

What’s you’re initial take? What information do you need to formulate an informed opinion?

There are some concerns about who will champion these ballot proposals if they are approved. For Division St., any future re-construction could be 5-10 years off–is the City still prepared to implement the low-budget side treatments previously recommended? Street trees, sidewalks, and more appropriate street lighting shouldn’t be put on hold. I’m also concerned that each project is being explored too myopically. Certainly related to the cemetery vote, and 8-1/2 street, a good question to ask is: how can we expand the benefits of this one project?

  1. July 9, 2012 at 9:27 am

    What do they mean by expanding right of way on Division? Is that so we can move forward with recommendations for more pedestrian-friendly solutions or simply to move more traffic?

  2. July 9, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Yes, good questions. The two proposals out there right now, a boulevard and/or a roundabout scheme, both would require additional right of way. A question to ask MDOT might be, is 30-feet enough to include all options?

    As citizens, it is a leap of faith as to what the final design would be and I’m not certain where the safety valve is that was previously discussed by the City Commission. The ballot would allow the disposal of parkland, but the intention was to not guarantee it because what if the proposal is a 6-lane highway. That certainly isn’t likely, but 6-7 lanes has been discussed for a treatment at the 14th and Division St. intersection. Note, the standard for safe and comfortable intersections for people on foot is to have them cross no more than 3-traffic lanes.

    The ballot language does call out some of the goals, namely “safely accommodating vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic.”

  3. July 9, 2012 at 10:38 am

    That’s my concern – more highway on a stretch that has already proven deadly to cross for too many. We’ll be there tonight.

  4. July 9, 2012 at 10:52 am

    …and another accident at 14th and Division…

  5. Greg
    July 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    This could be a good argument for the CC to discuss. Might want to let them know how many deaths have occurred on this stretch (I personally have no idea).

  6. July 13, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    This is soooo funny… they (all of you, including the city commission) never bothered to realize that a private business in a renovated historical district home on the west side of Division is there now and for the very long foreseeable future.
    LOL Anyone want go and tell them they are about to have a lane or two of traffic or some lame brain bike bath going through their yard? You have to see the hilarity here. Ok I’ll stop laughing for a second….

    Ok, hey while we are on it… Leave the Oakwood Cemetery and its area for expansion alone! It is “parkland”!!! Not for sale for short term dollars.. What ever happened to the Brown Bridge Trust Fund for just those little hand in the cookie jar shortfalls?? Oh that’s right, they are draining the Boardman Pond and River so those dollars are getting squeezed..again!… Now not laughing as much anymore.. this is getting people around here steamed!

    Also, the sheer propriety of tearing up a water shed again for a thing called ” 8 1/2 Street” is a cockeyed insane idea! Way to kill off the Kids Creek Watershed one business, road, bike lane or hospital stomping a foot like a little kid mandate at a time!

    Ok, Back to side splitting laughing now!

  7. TedPagleton
    July 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    This will be a big failing issue. Voters will not give up parkland for another lane of traffic or a silly bike trial along division Street. Nor will they support the taking of wetlands and wildlife habitat right in town just for a 8 1/2 Street big road job . I agree with KC, the owners of the newly renovated home along division might have been consulted. But were not.. It is funny, I agree!

    Put in the tuinels in 3 to 4 spots on division and 3 areas on the Parkway and call it good!

  8. Raymond Minervini
    July 16, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Ted: The CC supported the Division Street initiative, and rejected the Cemetery Sale and 8-1/2 Street initiative. I hope you can be convinced that the small amount of parkland needed to try and make Division St better for all users is a very small price to pay. For several reasons, tunnels are not the way to go.

  9. TedPagleton
    July 16, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    The city commission does not seem to represent the citizens of TC right now! This Division Street lopping off of parkland and their their stuck in a roundabout circle mentality is no good. With their current war against the City Fire Department and other city workers, this will be a disastrous fall for those that think they represent us.

    And yes the tunnels always have been a well received and do-able thing. Just the city planner and his build canyons on every corner building idea can’t get there from here in his head.

  10. Raymond Minervini
    July 17, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I simply ask you to stand on the west side of Division anywhere between 14th and 8th and tell me how nice the park experience is there. The intent of the expanded ROW is to initiate the study process at MDOT to improve the character/speed/safety of the street, whether with roundabouts or boulevards or whatever– design to be determined. The problem is not the quantity of parkland we have there, it is the negative character of the street that impacts all users and the adjoining park and neighborhoods. I hope myself and others will be able to share information to convince you to vote Yes!

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