The Great Train Station Debate
The vision of a new station to serve these potential riders is so real to Hieftje that he mixes tenses. "Ann Arbor will get $30 million from the federal government for the station. We could put in as little as $3 million, and we can partner with MDOT [the Michigan Department of Transportation] and AATA and the university for part of that."
Three years ago, Hieftje told the Observer that the version of the project then under consideration could be built without tapping the city's general fund. But that plan collapsed last year when the city couldn't come up with the required matching funds from other sources. In October, council voted to cover the city's share of a new $3.2 million study by drawing $550,000 from its general fund reserves.
Despite the mayor's optimism, he hasn't always been eager to take the issue to the voters. The Fuller Rd. site, currently a U-M parking lot, is legally city parkland--and the city charter forbids the sale of parks without a popular vote. To dodge that, the original plan would have leased, rather than sold, the property.