On August 26, the county reached a “high” level of community spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Wednesday, Washtenaw County reported fifty-five new cases, no hospitalizations, and no deaths in the past twenty-four hours, with a weekly test positivity rate of 3.7 percent. washtenaw.org
The City of Ann Arbor requires all employees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by October 8. Employees who fail to provide proof of vaccination by the deadline will be subject to disciplinary actions that eventually will result in termination of employment. Click on Detroit
The Washtenaw County Health Department issues a mask mandate for county schools, both public and private, going into effect after the Labor Day holiday. Of the county’s ten public school districts, only Manchester is currently mask-optional. MLive
The Blind Pig canceled its “Grand Re-Opening Extravaganza” last weekend when a doorman tested positive for Covid-19 after a shift on Saturday. Talent buyer Jason Berry is skeptical about public concern for the safety of club staff. “No one cares, they just want shows. Demand is such that we've become essential workers, more or less. And by 'we' I mean live music staff and live musicians themselves, all over the Earth. Patrons are exposing us all to Covid on a nightly basis.”
Plans for a new railroad station grind to a halt. After years of costly planning and petitioning by city officials, the Federal Railroad Commission put the brakes on the environmental assessment for a proposed Amtrak station by the Michigan Medicine complex on Fuller Rd., citing exorbitant costs, excessive parking, and lack of need. MLive
A pair of high-rises that will include affordable housing are planned for the Y lot next to the Blake Transit Center. It’s one of several city-owned sites the Ann Arbor Housing Commission is considering for approximately 1,500 units of affordable housing over the next twenty years. About forty percent of the new dwellings would be subsidized affordable apartments, the rest either market-rate rentals or condos. MLive
Members of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization marched in front of U-M residence halls last weekend demanding pay raises for lecturers at the U-M Flint and Dearborn campuses. After nine months of unsuccessful negotiations, LEO is threatening to strike if the university does not agree to a contract by September 8. Michigan Daily
After shutting down most construction during the first phases of the pandemic, U-M is moving ahead with major projects across the Ann Arbor campus. Here is a look at eight of the biggest projects currently underway, totallng $1.5 billion. University Record
Drivers divided: In case anyone doubted it, last week’s a2view survey confirmed that people are polarized on the change to two-way traffic on Ashley and First. We got 262 responses and counted 250 after eliminating multiple entries from the same IP address. Only 18 people chose “I couldn’t care less either way.” Most clustered at the extremes, with seventy-six people picking “I never want to drive again!” and fifty-six declaring “I love it! I am dancing in the streets!” Overall, negative responses slightly outnumbered positive ones, 121-110.
Providing new fuel to the fire, S. Main St. went on a “road diet” last week, shrinking from four lanes to three (one each way, plus a center turn lane) from William to Stadium to make room for bike lanes. It’s a trial run that will be suspended come winter, but Packard is permanently losing left-turn lanes at State and Hill streets to make room for bike lanes. MLive
The city’s third protected bikeway is coming to Division between Packard and Catherine. Construction will begin in late September/early October, replacing parking along the east side of Division. Downtown Development Authority
Following storms that caused power outages across the region, councilmember Elizabeth Nelson will propose a resolution to conduct a feasibility study for a public power utility at Monday’s council meeting. The idea isn’t new—the energy commission has been in discussions about a municipal utility for months—and a coalition of climate-action groups is holding an Ann Arbor Public Power Fundraiser at Burns Park on Monday. Over forty municipalities across the state already have public utilities.
The city has replaced approximately 23,500 aging water meters since last year, but 3,000 customers remain unresponsive. The city, which offers contactless replacement, is no longer accepting the pandemic as a reason to delay. MLive
Results of the Washtenaw County Conservation District resource assessment are in. “This was the largest survey the WCCD has ever conducted in our 73 year history,” says executive director Megan DeLeeuw, and results show “residents are most concerned about the impact of development growth, zoning, and land preservation. We also see an increased concern with the quality of forests and woodlots, including loss of diversity and invasive species.” In response, the agency will add education and technical assistance promoting land use and conservation. washtenawcd.org/2021surveyresults
Burns Park butterflies. Local environmental educator Lynda Asher spent her post-op convalescence watching pollinators buzzing about her native perennial garden. When she learned that monarch butterfly numbers had plummeted by ninety percent locally, she decided to take action and is raising and releasing hundreds of monarchs every year. The Observer’s Cynthia Furlong Reynolds has our story.
New murals for Argus Farm Stop on Liberty and Growing Hope on Michigan Ave. Artists Yen Azzaro of Ypsilanti and Mary Thiefels and Danijel Matanic of Ann Arbor were commissioned by the Ann Arbor Art Center and its partner Toyota to create the farm-themed murals. The Argus mural is complete, and the Growing Hope mural is expected to be completed this month. Ann Arbor Art Center
Ann Arbor Observer correction: an article on the new school year in the September Observer mistakenly said that the AAPS International Baccalaureate program was suspended. We'd misunderstood superintendent Jeanice Swift's reference to the district's International Exchange program. "In fact the enrollment numbers at Mitchell, Scarlet, and Huron remain strong and our Diploma Programme results last year were strong," emails district spokesperson Andrew Cluley. Our apologies to IB parents and to Superintendent Swift for the error.