October 6, 2022

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

At Monday’s meeting, city council rezoned the W. Stadium-Maple area for much denser development, gave tenants the right to renew their leases, and banned red-light turns downtown. The city disclosed a massive wastewater discharge and a man was arraigned on arson charges. U-M research set a record $1.7 billion, Michigan Medicine nurses ratified a new contract, and the university extended its tobacco ban to snuff and vapes.

Packard Rd. reopened to traffic, while the Maple Rd. bridge is set to close once again, and in Kerrytown the bikeway project and utility installations on Catherine/Miller partially closed the intersection with Main.

In Ypsi, Materials Unlimited is closing after half a century in business, while a new Bloom City Club dispensary opened its doors. In Ann Arbor you might spot a stationary, bright-red double-decker bus selling tacos at Miller and First, while York hosts its inaugural wine festival tomorrow.

Dayton Hare, editor

City Administrator Milton Dohoney “heard pretty quickly that [Liberty Plaza] was a challenge in our community,” recalls councilmember Erica Briggs, “and that folks that lived or that worked adjacent to Liberty Plaza were experiencing increased physical violence in that space.” Photo: J. Adrian Wylie.

The News...Briefly

The county’s Covid-19 snapshot reports 992 cases in the two weeks ending yesterday, continuing the downward trend of the last several weeks; last week there were 1,175 cases. There are 142.8 cases per 100,000 residentes, down a hair from last week’s 143.9. The test positivity rate is 10.4 percent, up from 9.6 last week. The CDC community level is currently still at “medium,” and will be updated at 8 p.m. tonight.

The W. Stadium-Maple corridor is primed to become a mini-downtown following Monday’s rezoning for “transit oriented development,” the Michigan Daily reports. Last week, residents opposed to the proposal hosted a meeting where they criticized the plan for not requiring additional affordable housing, sustainability features, or protection for natural habitats. But on Monday supporters opined that rezoning was the only way to make the area welcoming to people using all modes of transportation, and it passed 7-4 along factional lines.

City council passed the “right to renew” ordinance at Monday’s meeting, the Daily reports, an addendum to the city’s 2021 early leasing ordinance that requires landlords to offer current tenants the chance to renew or compensate them for relocating.

Council also prohibited red-light turns downtown, the Daily reports. The vote was previously delayed after councilmembers raised equity concerns, but this time council voted 9-2 in favor of the change, which is intended to increase pedestrian safety.

Everybody loves city administrator Milton Dohoney, James Leonard reports in last month’s Observer. Rather than play it safe, when he took over as interim last fall he immediately sought out solutions to one of the city’s thorniest issues: how to improve the experience of Liberty Plaza for everyone who uses it. Councilmembers were so impressed that they unanimously voted to give him the job halfway through his interim appointment.

Approximately 1.4 million gallons of partially-treated wastewater were accidentally discharged into the Huron Tuesday, the city announced. The wastewater, which had already received all treatment but disinfection, flowed into the river for two and a half hours before staff realized that the disinfection system had shut down automatically when water levels fell during a maintenance operation. According to the statement, staff is “investigating adding notification alarms should this type of event happen again.”

The city is developing a plan to deal with unforeseen contaminants in drinking water as part of its Water Treatment Plant Facility Plan. Ann Arbor is taking steps to ensure that it has the capability to address future contaminants, whether they are currently regulated or not.

A man was arraigned last week on arson charges after he allegedly broke into a commercial building leased by the parent company of MLive and started a fire last March, MLive reports.  Daniel Robert Dugan appeared at a probable cause conference hearing this morning.

Packard Rd. reopened between US-23 and Carpenter Rd. last Friday after being closed to all traffic for reconstruction since late June.

The Maple Rd. bridge is closing again Monday for its second round of renovations, with a detour posted. It will be closed to all traffic, including river traffic and non-motorized users. The work should take about two weeks.

A section of Platt Rd. closed yesterday to install utility mains for a new sustainable development. The closure is expected to last about a month, with a detour via Washtenaw Ave. and S. Huron Pkwy.

Northbound Main St. is closed at Miller Ave./Catherine St. as crews continue to install utilities for a six-story affordable housing development at Fourth and Catherine and a protected bikeway between First and Division.

The construction has been a thorn in the side of Kerrytown businesses for weeks, James Leonard reports in the October Observer. Construction noise and blocked streets have cost Detroit Street Filling Station thousands of dollars a day, says owner Phyllis Engelbert. DDA executive director Jeff Watson says that they’re doing “everything we can to minimize the disruption.”

When the jackhammering started, Engelbert says, “one party after another started to leave—like, just leave—because they couldn’t take the noise.” Photo: Mark Bialek.

The a2Tech360 Conference from Ann Arbor SPARK starts tomorrow, Detroit Business reports. The week-long conference highlighting Ann Arbor’s “innovative environment” will gather investors, entrepreneurs, researchers, and others for a series of events, including a competition that will distribute a total of $200,000 in prize money.

The idea for Noah Kaplan’s mammoth art installation “Eiro” came to him in a dream, Amy Summerton reports in the October Observer. While the  ‘95 U-M art grad prepared the massive sculpture with speakers for the ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids, his 60-employee company, Leon Speakers, was also preparing to start production on Cove, an enclosure to enhance virtual workers’ telepresence.

U-M reported a record $1.7 billion in research spending in fiscal year 2022, ClickOnDetroit reports, an 8.9 percent increase. The National Institutes of Health was the biggest external sponsor, at $640 million, but the university also received millions from the National Science Foundation, the Defense department, the Department of Energy.

Michigan Medicine nurses voted to ratify a new four-year contract, the Michigan Daily reports, ending six months of negotiations. The more than 6,000 union members who have been working without a contract since June will receive a $5,000 bonus and a 22.5 percent pay increase over four years, and will no longer have to work overtime.

U-M is banning all tobacco products on all its campuses, ClickOnDetroit reports. Next month the existing tobacco policy will expand to prohibit battery powered devices such as vapes or e-cigarettes, as well as smokeless tobacco products.

The nonprofit Campus Pride named U-M among the “Best of the Best” for LGBTQ people in the country, ClickOnDetroit reports. The organization’s index is a benchmarking tool to  assess LGBTQ-friendly programs, policies and practices.

The Wolverines vanquished the Iowa Hawkeyes 27-14 last weekend, and remain undefeated as they prepare to face off against Indiana in Bloomington on Saturday.

Municipal offices will be closed next Monday in observance of Indigenous Peoples Day. Safety services and trash pickup will continue without interruption. Ann Arbor – which is built on land once belonging to the Odawa, Ojibwe, and others – has celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day in lieu of Columbus Day since 2015.

Ann Arbor’s first curbside EV chargers are coming to Kingsley and Ingalls, MLive reports. Last month, city council allocated $54,000 from the state for DTE Energy poles in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, a site selected on the basis of electrical capacity and adjacent parking availability.

The Mayor’s Autumnal Green Fair is tomorrow. From 6-9 p.m., Main St. will feature games, prizes, music, a bike show, and a parade, with information on green technology, plant-based food, clean water, and more.

A local teen received an international prize for her environmental work, ClickOnDetroit reports. Thirteen-year-old Isabel “Izzy” Sutton was awarded a 2022 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes for raising nearly $8,000 for environmental causes through the sale of handmade, biodegradable bracelets.

Aaron Orr welcomes customers at 1923, a “bustaurant” named for the year London rolled out its signature double-deckers. Photo: John Hilton.

Marketplace Changes

A “bustaurant” opened at Miller and First, Shelley Daily reports in the October Observer. 1923, a creative repurposing of one of London’s iconic double-decker buses, serves tacos, appetizers, and rolled ice cream and offers rooftop and patio seating.

Michigan-based dispensary Bloom City Club added an Ypsi location last month, ClickOnDetroit reports. The dispensary will be joined by others Saturday at Riverside Park for the Canna Jam, with music, food, and cannabis products between noon and 10 p.m. Tickets are available for sale online.

After fifty years in business, Materials Unlimited in Ypsi is closing this winter, the Detroit Free Press reports. Ranked by HouseBeautiful.com as the best architectural salvage store in the state, the store will be replaced by an artist workspace and venue, along with a recording studio.

Van Boven Shoes in Nickels Arcade closed suddenly last month, Shelley Daily reports in the October Observer. Owner Roger Pothus passed away in December, and his estate is “working earnestly… to figure out a direction for the space.” The shoe store is not affiliated with Van Boven menswear across the Arcade or Pothus’s Renaissance clothing store on Main St., and neither is affected by the closure.

York hosts its inaugural wine festival tomorrow and Saturday, MLive reports. Attendees at the 4-9 p.m. event will have the chance to sample more than 130 wine varieties from around the world. Single-day tickets are $50, or $75 for both days.

Leon Speakers founder Noah Kaplan with his interactive art installation in Grand Rapids. The idea for “Eiro” came to him in a dream. Photo: Courtesy Leon Speakers.


The Rotary Club of Ann Arbor West hosts a “Community Shred Polio” event 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. For a $10 donation per vehicle, people can securely dispose of unwanted personal documents and electronic media at 4420 Jackson Rd. while raising funds to fight polio.

Jewish Family Services and the Alzheimer’s Association Michigan Chapter both host fundraiser walks Sunday. JFS’s 10 a.m. walk in Burns Park will support individuals experiencing life transitions or struggling with mental health issues, while the noon “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” at Pioneer High will help fund research and care. People can register for both the JFS walk and Alzheimer’s walk online.

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

7 Friday: Hear one of the best pianists of his generation, Sir András Schiff, play in a polished style that combines joy with a discernment that teases out musical details other pianists miss. Tonight his University Musical Society performance features works TBA by Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, each preceded by insightful introductions. 8 p.m. Hill Auditorium. Tickets $12–$66 ($12–$20 students) in advance at tickets.ums.org, at the Michigan League, and (if available) at the door. 764–2538.

8 Saturday: Join Washtenaw Audubon Society veteran birder Don Chalfant for “The Big Sit,” an international competition to see as many bird species as possible while remaining in a circle 17 feet in diameter. Also, a chance for novices to learn how to identify birds by eye and ear. Bring food, a beverage, and a folding chair, along with your binoculars. 6 a.m.–2 p.m., Independence Lake County Park, the grassy knoll just past the boat launch, 3200 Jennings Rd., Whitmore Lake. Free; $6 vehicle entry fee required. WashtenawAudubon.org.

9 Sunday: Attend A2 Artoberfest, the Guild of Artists & Artisans juried art fair featuring works by about 100 regional artists in media ranging from jewelry and glass to ceramics and fiber. Also, live musical entertainment and family-friendly art activities. Food & drink available. Oct. 8 & 9, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. (Sat.) & 10 a.m.–4 p.m. (Sun.), Downtown Ann Arbor on N. Fourth Ave, (between Huron & Kingsley). Free admission.

See the Observer’s online calendar for many more local events. 

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