June 2, 2022

Can you guess what is pictured in the photo above? Click the image for the answer and more.

I had to break out my dehumidifier this week, which is rarely a good sign. I hope that, for your part, you’ve had better luck keeping cool amid this hot, humid weather than I have.

But that’s the summer for you, and this weekend features a slew of annual summertime events, including Taste of Ann Arbor, the African American Downtown Festival, A2Zero Week, Independent Film Festival Ypsilanti, and the very first A2 Summer Streets. The university peony garden is being renamed as the flowers enter full bloom, Ann Arbor and Ypsi received recognition for environmental leadership, and Ypsi announced a rebate for installing solar panels.

Dayton Hare, editor

This month's Observer cover features a plethora of peonies, which can be found blooming this week at the peony garden in Nichols Arboretum. Painting: Janet Kohler. Photo: LR Nuñez.

The News...Briefly

The county’s Covid-19 snapshot reports 2,093 cases in the two weeks ending yesterday, making a weekly case rate of 386.3 per 100,000 residents, still high but down a bit from last week’s 426.6. The test positivity rate is 14.7 percent, just a tick down from a week ago, and the county continues to be in the “high” CDC risk level.

An input session for improvements to a dangerous M-14 bridge interchange happens next Wednesday, MLive reports. When it opened in the 1960s, planners assumed the cramped eastbound access to Barton Dr. would soon be replaced by a nearby interchange serving a planned ring road around town, David Swain reported for the Observer in 2015. Its miniscule on- and off-ramps have been the site of countless crashes ever since.

A proposed development of townhomes on Platt Rd. would see over 200 trees cut down, MLive reports. Though a luxury development in the northwest part of town recently sparked protests over tree removal, no such organized opposition appears to be present for the project on Platt. According to plans submitted by the Auburn Hills-based developer, the proposed apartments would be 1,500 square feet and be priced at market rates.

Washtenaw County homebuyers are finding themselves struggling in a red-hot housing market, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). The number of homes for sale reached a 14-year low in April, and with median prices cresting $400,000, potential buyers are engaging in bidding wars or being priced out of the area.

A lawsuit alleging the city illegally collected millions in stormwater fees is moving forward, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). The proposed class-action suit claims Ann Arbor’s fees based on a property’s impervious land surface amount to an unauthorized tax. Filed by the same firm that previously challenged the city’s water and sewer fees, the suit asks the court to declare the stormwater fees illegal, and order the money collected in the year prior to the suit being filed to be refunded.

A Washtenaw County couple is suing the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office and Ypsilanti Police Department for unjustified use of force, MLive reports. The couple face multiple felony charges stemming from a 2020 police altercation, including counts of resisting and obstructing an officer, and causing injury to an officer. The couple now claim that the police violated their constitutional rights through unreasonable search and seizure and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Ann Arbor and Ypsi earned gold status in the Michigan Green Communities Challenge, MLive reports. MGC awards rankings of bronze, silver, and gold according to a communities progress towards sustainability; Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti are among 22 city governments in Michigan to receive gold for outstanding efforts in sustainability.

The second annual A2Zero Week begins this Sunday. The Office of Sustainability and Innovations will run educational activities, events, and other festivities centered on sustainability June 5–11, ranging from rides in electric vehicles to “waste audits” at local parks. A “Zero Waste Challenge” features prizes from local businesses.

SolarYpsi is offering $2,000 rebates to Ypsilanti residents who adopt solar power, MLive reports. An $80,000 donation from Grace Sweeney provides for up to 40 rebates — enough to significantly increase the amount of the city’s solar installations from the current 84. The year-long offer begins on June 1.

Independent Film Festival Ypsilanti runs June 2–4, Concentrate reports. The festival’s third year – and its first indoors and fully in-person – will feature three days of screenings at the Riverside Arts Center, showcasing local creators and filmmakers from across the world.

The Riverside Arts Center now officially owns the building it has occupied for 25 years, MLive reports. After renting the space for a quarter of a century, the center purchased it through a rent-to-own agreement. Riverside now hopes to renovate and expand the building to include classrooms and additional spaces for artists to rent.

Taste of Ann Arbor returns this Sunday, the first time in-person since 2019. Two dozen local restaurants will set up along Main St. between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. offering food and drink priced between $1 and $6. Live music will be provided by performers involved with Sonic Lunch.

The inaugural A2 Summer Streets starts today, MLive reports. The new festival will feature music from 7-9 p.m. on Thursdays at stages throughout downtown, free events such as yoga on Friday and Saturday mornings, and music and brunch specials at downtown restaurants on Sunday. Summer Streets will continue through Aug. 28.

This Saturday is the 25th annual African American Downtown Festival. This year’s lineup includes musical performances in a variety of genres, dance shows, a magic show, and kids’ activities like face painting and balloon twisting.

U-M’s peony garden is being renamed for the man who originally gifted the peonies that started it 100 years ago, the university announced. Dr. W.E. Upjohn’s descendants donated $2 million to U-M to rename the garden, whose centenary is being celebrated Saturday afternoon, when the flowers will likely be in full bloom.

The Riverside Arts Center now owns the Ypsi building it has occupied for years.
Photo: Griffin Harvey.

Marketplace Changes

Twenty-one-year-old Drake Johnson opened a sneaker store in Briarwood Mall, MLive reports. Johnson’s store, Restrikted, sells pre-owned but unworn collectable shoes; he also has a location in Grandville.

Beer and wine store Withington’s opened their doors in Chelsea last December, Current reports. Owner Jay Friend has been in the wine business for twenty years, and opened the store to fill the gap left by the closure of Wines on Main. Patrons can expect to find a wide selection of wines, as well as ciders, sake, and more.

An input session on improving an M-14 bridge interchange long known for crashes is scheduled for next Wednesday. Photo: John Hilton.

Ask a2view

Q. Reader Carla Bayha emailed asking what the Earle’s former sommelier Steve Goldberg has been doing since his recent retirement.

A. When I put the question to waitstaff this week, I was told that Steve is enjoying his retirement and working his way through his wine cellar. He’s still local, and when the Earle’s current sommelier was out on maternity leave a few weeks ago, he stepped in to help at the restaurant.


A new Ann Arbor food truck, FedUp, is dedicated to fighting food insecurity, Concentrate reports. In partnership with Zion Lutheran Church, every Wednesday the truck sets up at Liberty Plaza to provide free meals to those in need, catering to dietary restrictions.

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

3 Friday: See competitive equine ballet performed by skilled horses and riders, highlighted by graceful freestyle routines set to music at a Waterloo Hunt Club Dressage Show. No pets. Concessions. June 35, 8 a.m.5 p.m., Waterloo Hunt Club, Glenn at Katz (west off Mount Hope Rd. from I-94 exit 150), Grass Lake. Free admission. (908) 3261155, 426–2088.

4 Saturday: Stock up on native plants at the Native Plant Expo & Marketplace hosted by the Washtenaw County Conservation District and Wild Ones. Also, sales of seeds and landscaping services. 9 a.m.–1 p.m., Chelsea Community Fairgrounds, 20501 Old US-12 Hwy., Chelsea. Free admission. washtenawcd.org/npem.html, 302–8715.

4 Saturday:  See “The C.E.O.,”  the U-M Gilbert and Sullivan Society's new adaptation of The Mikado, which retains most of the original script and score while entirely reworking the plot. Set in an office in present day Ann Arbor, the story focuses on a recent business school grad, unexpectedly promoted to president of the Worldwide Widget Company, where he is required to make painful staffing cuts by the mysterious company CEO. 2 & 8 p.m., Arthur Miller Theatre, 1226 Murfin, North Campus. Tickets $20 (seniors, $15; students, $10) in advance at muto.umich.edu and at the door. 647–8436.

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