Washtenaw County reported forty-eight lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19, fifteen probable cases, one hospitalization, and no deaths in the 24 hours ending yesterday at 10 a.m., a single case shy of being the exact same as a week ago. The weekly test positivity rate is 3.5 percent, a point below the statewide rate of 4.7 percent.
Omicron subvariant BA.2 is here. “The state (MDHHS) reported detections late last week in 21 counties, including Washtenaw,” emails the county health department’s Susan Ringler Cerniglia. (Though neither regular or diagnostic tests can tell the difference, samples routinely go to MDHHS for closer analysis.) “While current levels are low, there are good reasons to expect and prepare for future increases or surges,” she adds, so ”right now is a great time to make sure you have at-home test kits and well-fitted masks available and know how to access treatment if you test positive.”
Making room for everyone has long been one of the city’s challenges. Last year, the Observer’s Julie Halpert talked to families exiled from Ann Arbor by spiraling home prices. This month, she traces more than fifty years of public and private efforts to create subsidized housing for the elderly, the poor, and the homeless. A future article will look at how the city plans to tap its 2020 affordable housing millage to construct as many as 1,500 new units.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, construction began on a five-story luxury student apartment building on the corner of Main and Madison where Happy’s Pizza burned down in 2014, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). It will have nineteen apartments with fifty-six beds, renting for $1,400-1,800 per bed, and 1,700 square feet of ground-floor retail.
The city has reduced its vision for a new train station in hopes of getting the Feds on board, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). After the Federal Railroad Administration rebuffed the initial $171 price tag for a station on Fuller Road, Ann Arbor responded last month by dramatically scaling back the proposed parking at the site, which would significantly reduce expenses.
The city has proposed extending the bike lane on Division all the way to Hoover Ave, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). The two-way, protected bike lane was built in 2021 and currently extends from Kingsley to Packard. The city is seeking public input on the proposed change.
Plans for a downtown central park may soon shift into the design stage, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). In 2018, voters amended the city charter to reserve the space atop the underground Library Lane parking structure for a park, killing plans to sell the air rights for a high-rise building. An advisory body has been reviewing proposals, and some hope to finish construction by the city’s bicentennial in 2024. City staff and council members stress, however, that the project is not yet funded and is still far from being a reality.
The Ann Arbor Film Festival is celebrating its 60th anniversary this week, Concentrate reports. This year’s festival, which runs through Sunday at the Michigan Theater, concentrates on historically omitted groups of artists, including women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ filmmakers.
Arbor Hills Landfill and state regulators have reached a settlement over emissions violations, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). The company, which serves Ann Arbor and admits no liability, will pay a six-figure fine, install emissions monitors around the site in Salem Township, and create a free hazardous-waste collection site. Neighbors have complained about odors from the landfill for years.
The prosecutor’s office has reached a plea deal with a man accused of shooting a six-year-old last year, MLive reports. The man offered no contest to two charges that carry fifteen-year and two-year sentences, respectively. Prosecutor Eli Savit said that the decision was made in accordance with the victim’s family’s desire to avoid the uncertainty of a trial.
The U-M Board of Regents will vote today on the appointment of a new provost, the Michigan Daily reports. Last week, interim president Mary Sue Coleman gave the nod for the university’s top academic position to School of Dentistry dean Laurie K. McCauley. The current provost, Susan M. Collins, will leave this summer to become president of the Boston branch of the Federal Reserve.
U-M men’s hockey and women’s gymnastics both won Big Ten Championships this week, the Daily reports. The hockey team’s victory in the tournament is their first since 2016; the gymnasts took home their twenty-sixth crown with the historic score of 198.200. Meanwhile, the women’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the second year in a row, one of only three Big Ten teams to do so.
Mayor Christopher Taylor wants a new city flag, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive), and has tasked the Public Art Commission and the city clerk’s office with selecting a new design in 2022. He got the idea from the 99% Invisible podcast, and cites Chicago’s flag as an example of a standout city flag.