MINUTES OF SPECIAL BOARD MEETING
TRUSTEES OF BARTON HILLS VILLAGE
May 10, 2006
A special meeting of the Board of Trustees was called to order by President Laporte at 6:02 PM at the Village Hall. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Village Administration Center project (site evaluation) jointly with the BHMC Board of Directors and the VAC Committee.
ROLL CALL Present: Trustees Boddie, Butterwick, Laporte, Lindstrom, C. MacKrell, Perry and Wilkes; BHMC President Bultman and BHMC Directors Hescheles, Kelly, Paluszny, Quarton and Stubbs; VAC Committee members J. MacKrell and Teeter; Atty. Reading (amended 6/19/06), Supt. Esch, Asst. Treas. Redies and InSite Consultant Shannan Gibb-Randall. Absent: Trustees Al-Awar and Bogat.
VAC Chair Lindstrom led the discussion between the BHMC Directors, BHV Trustees, VAC Committee members and landscape architect Gibb-Randall concerning possible sites for the proposed Village Administration Center. He summarized the work of the VAC Committee to date in establishing objectives and steps taken to meet those objectives. The Committee has identified three potential sites and asked Ms. Gibb-Randall to evaluate those sites and provide feedback. For her report, Ms. Gibb-Randall used the criteria set by the Committee plus additional criteria of her own, limiting her study to the three sites selected: Village Green, California Avenue, and Garden. Mr. Lindstrom added that no formal vote of any of the groups would be requested, but that all involved would have opportunity to discuss the InSite report and provide feedback to the VAC Committee.
Ms. Gibb-Randall commented on each site:
1) Village Green: A building at this location would be highly visible, with moderate impact on the view from the Barton Shore Drive entrance to BHV. More landscaping would be required to make the building fit into the area, and more structural work fill (amended 6/19/06) would be needed for parking in the trapped watershed of the Green, which is lower than the road. An advantage of this site is ease/safety of access outside the maintenance area.
2) California Avenue: Liabilities to this site are safety and ambiance. Purposefully planning a public building with entrance through the maintenance area would make the driveway a road with unsafe conditions due to putting public traffic in the way of normal maintenance activities. InSite would take no responsibility for such liability, especially since what seems like a small amount of traffic now may become a major problem in the future. Using this site would also be putting forth a poor public face, like inviting guests to a home via the broom closet. Ms. Gibb-Randall felt that the function of the building would be at odds with the location, and would eliminate this site as a viable choice.
3) Garden: This is the site recommended by Ms. Gibb-Randall, based on the beauty of the setting and accessibility without going through the maintenance area. A longer road would be needed to go around the oak tree and a two-lane road would encroach on the drip line of the tree an estimated 7-9 feet out of 50 feet of cover; one lane would probably not encroach at all. Ms. Gibb-Randall acknowledged that it was difficult to know how the tree would be affected, but based on past experience was optimistic that the tree would prevail, especially if it were generously protected by fencing so heavy construction equipment did not travel or rest under the drip line.
--Could the drive be something besides asphalt? The code requires impervious material; also snow removal might be a problem with some materials.
--Making a section of the drive brick or another porous material would help, although it would be more expensive.
--Moving the gas pumps is too expensive to be an option.
--Ann Arbor City owns the road from Barton Shore Drive to the chained gate. What impact does that have? Ms. Laporte explained that a title search is in progress and many questions remain to be answered. This would be a factor in all of the sites and will be resolved before the project moves forward.
--Could parking be put on the road side of the tree with walkways to the building? That would not provide adequate adherence to the ADA (disabilities act).
--People drive to the pool/tennis courts through the maintenance area now without any safety issues.
--Many people coming to the VAC would be unfamiliar with the area and wouldn't be aware of the safety concerns. It would be unwise to plan the building with known hazards.
--Security at the Garden site is a high risk. People camp out (illegally?) on the Ann Arbor City property along the fence, and there have been incidents of vandalism at Barton Dam. The property is designated as parkland, with entrance for authorized personnel only from Barton Lane, but people walk across from the Barton Dam park.
--Security at the Garden site could be addressed by fencing, or a natural vegetation barrier such as a wild rose hedge, along with the usual protection of a building alarm system, motion-activated outside lights, etc.
--A one-lane entrance would be satisfactory, as evidenced by the success of one-lane Foster Bridge. The tree is worth protecting.
--Community and employee input is important.
--Convenience and security for employees were included in the criteria for evaluating the various sites. When asked directly, Mrs. Esch indicated that she thought the Village Green site should be eliminated, and favored the Garden site. Mrs. Redies agreed with elimination of the Village Green site, but favored the California Avenue site.
--Emergency vehicle access needs to be considered. Fire Departments usually prefer a site, especially for a public building, that has two approaches in case one is blocked.
--There is not room on the side of the oak tree farthest from the maintenance buildings to make an entrance drive there.
--Seven to ten parking spaces isn't enough--there are ten to twelve people at a regular meeting.
--All of the sites have room for additional parking, or current available space in the maintenance area could be used after hours, although there would be safety issues related to that as well.
--It is important to protect the tree; even 7-9 feet of encroachment may be too much.
--There are examples of designing around trees where great care was taken but the tree died. There are no guarantees it won't die of natural causes either, so it has to be seen in perspective with other factors in the decision. It isn't the only factor.
Mr. Lindstrom asked those in attendance to participate in a written, non-binding "straw vote", indicating what site would be their first choice, and subsequent choices they could support. The results of the vote showed considerable support for the Garden site. Mr. Lindstrom also was given a copy of BHMC Director Surovell's email on the subject. It was agreed that the joint meeting of the two boards was helpful in focusing on a particular issue such as this, and the VAC Committee was commended for their efforts. Appreciation was also expressed for Ms. Gibb-Randall's work. Mr. Lindstrom asked those present to discuss the project with neighbors and friends, urging them to attend the Annual Meeting/Public Forum on May 16, 2006. He stated that there was still a long way to go, and that no site was perfect, but that community involvement and working together would be required to build a strong consensus in order to meet the goals of the project.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:06 PM.
Jan Esch, Assistant Clerk