The Healthy Roads initiative is not supported by Ann Arbor City Council
ANN ARBOR, MI – Ann Arbor’s Healthy Streets Initiative may not return in 2021 after the city council fails to get the required votes.
The initiative, which required eight votes to pass, was defeated 7-4 at the Council meeting on Monday 3rd May. Councilors Jeff Hayner, D-1st Ward; Kathy Griswold, 2nd District; Ali Ramlawi, D-5th Ward, and Elizabeth Nelson, D-4th Ward, voted against the resolution.
The resolution would have placed PK Contracting, Inc. on a contract for $ 215,030.64 to build new facilities and provided $ 320,830 from the balance of the Major Street Fund and $ 33,143 from the balance of the Local Street Fund.
The Healthy Roads program closed sections of multiple arterial and residential roads in 2020 to promote safe walking and cycling and to help residents continue to physically distance themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative also included the reconfiguration of streets and parking lanes for pedestrians.
Several councilors who voted against the initiative questioned its importance given the city’s general multi-million dollar fund deficit.
“We will not overcome a structural deficit by making everything in our community a priority,” said Hayner. “The council must take a line of tax responsibility. And everyone wishes for all the great things we could have and walks this line on a different path. “
Griswold and Ramlawi agreed that money could be spent to address different priorities. Ramlawi said he was comfortable donating money for permanent facilities and slow streets in the neighborhood, but not for the temporary installations.
Nelson, who co-sponsored the initiative in 2020, said the need for healthy streets had declined since the pandemic began when city officials posted signs in public parks urging people not to congregate there.
The 2021 iteration of the program should include temporary slow streets in the neighborhood during the summer and permanent bike path installations on Packard Street.
The city council can still vote to fund the program by six votes as part of the annual budget approval on May 17th. This means that it won’t be funded until the start of the new fiscal year on July 1st. The vote required eight votes in nature on Monday as a mid-year budget change for the current fiscal year ending in June.
Community members have raised concerns that without the Healthy Streets program, unvaccinated children would have less space to play safely outdoors, said Councilor Erica Briggs, D-5th Ward. Briggs also noted the support the resolution had received from Molly Kleinman, the chairman of the city’s Transportation Commission, as well as the majority of residents.
A recent community poll received 477 votes in support of the return of the program and 393 votes against.
Proponents of the initiative argue that the Healthy Roads program also drives the city’s carbon neutrality plan and the proposed transportation plan.
“One of our main goals in our climate protection plan was to reduce car journeys by 50% by 2030. Part of that concerns changing behavior. Getting people to think about their neighborhood behavior is an important step in that direction, ”said Briggs.
READ MORE FROM THE ANN ARBOR NEWS:
Pioneer’s Forsyth sisters carry on the family’s rich running history
2 killed in a crash on US 23 near Ann Arbor
Added murder charge for man who was stabbed three times at the fatal Ann Arbor Hotel