Arborland's lockout hurts AATA riders
by Kimberly Elsifor
No one is unhappier with Arborland's decision to eliminate its AATA bus stop last month than commuters with disabilities. The stop at the shopping center was replaced by two stops on either side of Washtenaw. While there are sidewalks on both sides, individuals with walkers or in wheelchairs must board buses in the street and get across Washtenaw--a particular challenge for disabled riders headed for the U-M Medical Center. When the weather worsens, snow and slush will make it even more difficult.
Carolyn Grawi of the Center for Independent Living suggests riders study the Ride Guide or contact the AATA (996-0400) for help planning a trip that involves a transfer at Arborland. She also encourages people to speak up about Arborland's refusal to renew the AATA's lease. "Not only will they [disabled riders] not want to shop there, they won't be able to get there," she predicts. "It is a bad idea for everyone all around."
[Originally published in August, 2009.]
On August 18, 2009, Mark wrote:
I could be wrong, but I believe Mayor Hieftje should have made this a huge issue. A less than stellar and socially responsible management company is dictating the quality of life for a number of Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti residents. He needs to take the lead here. The tenants at Arborland don't seem to have any clout, either. Perhaps a class-action lawsuit might open the minds of the management.
On August 18, 2009, Dale Black wrote:
I agree that, from a local perspective, the landlord's termination of AATA's license/lease rights to the bus stop within Arborland is unreasonable. However, AATA does not have a right to use private property without following proper procedure--the exercise of eminent domain to take private property for a public purpose. I'd imagine that the city and/or AATA is exploring or had explored that alternative. Barring eminent domain, neither the city nor AATA have a legal right to force Arborland to permit a public bus stop within the shopping center.
This tussle is a big, black eye for the center owner locally, so I don't think you'll find the logic for it in local conditions. The management office is in Farmington Hills, with ownership out-of-state. Because there are two vacant small storefronts in the center immediately across from the former bus stop, perhaps the owners/manager assume that's for lack of dependable daytime parking. Or insurance issues became too costly. Either way, they're tone deaf when it comes to the local politics of their decision.