ypsilanti

Two days, 40+ local artists, 9000 gallons of beer.

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In case you hadn't heard,

The second Shadow Art Fair is taking place tonight, December 1 (8-12pm) and tomorrow, December 2 (11am-8pm), at the Corner Brewery. Be there. It's worth not doing whatever lame thing you were planning on doing this weekend.

Adventures in local blogging, 2006

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A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by Dan DuChene of the Ypsilanti Courier, who is apparently working on a story on the Ypsi blogoverse. I expect to merit about half a sentence as an also-ran, after the laundry list of much more worthy Ypsi luminaries. I am, after all, fairly new to the scene, and I could probably be considered "in retirement", relative to my ArborUpdate level.

At any rate, Dan asked some questions that got me to considering recent changes in Ypsi/Arbor blogland. This really ought to be a year-in-review sort of post, but it's not the end of the year, and I won't remember that long. So.

GIS grants for redevelopment of vacant/abandoned properties

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Mark H. just tipped me off to a grant program by ESRI, Magellan, and the National Vacant Properties Campaign to provide $50k in GPS and GIS hardware, software, and training to 10 governmental agencies to develop applications for "producing or enhancing property inventory and encouraging redevelopment of vacant or abandoned properties within the United States." Applications are due December 1. Who wants to help me develop a proposal for Ypsilanti?

I think we've got a pretty good shot:

  • We've got some vacant and abandoned properties

The effect of a campus' built form on adjoining land uses

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Over on Mark Maynard's page, a discussion of the proposed pedestrian malling of College Place seems to have veered into a critique of on-campus businesses, with the complaint that they don't pay property taxes. The larger issue that I see with housing bookstores and restaurants on-campus - and this holds true across most super-block campuses I've spent time on - is that providing these services on-site helps to emphasize the town/gown dividing line.

"What are they doing to the roads *now?*"

Some of my Ypsilanti readership might have the same question that I did. "So, if MDOT went through and dug up and patched Huron/Hamilton/W. Cross two weeks ago, why are they going back now and milling the whole surface off those roads? What was the point of the first go-round?"

I have unearthed The Answer. The first pass was to saw out sections and patch cracks in the underlying, concrete layer of the roads. They then patched asphalt on top to provide a smooth driving surface until they got around to the second phase, which involved milling off and repaving all of the asphalt top layer. Apparently, this is the method of doing all the necessary work that involves the least disruption of traffic.

Let your HDC be your ZBA?

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Zoning is often accepted by planners in a rather Churchillian fashion - acknowledged to be the worst land use planning tool out there, except for all the others. And, the older your building stock, the worse zoning gets - the existing assortment of buildings falls further and further behind current sensibilities of how to use land. One commonly recognized manifestation of this is in older residential neighborhoods where not a single house on the block could be rebuilt under current zoning if destroyed in a fire. (This was the case when the ICC lost Stevens House a few years ago. The emotional response was to rebuild it back, exactly as it was - but this would have violated the existing zoning in a dozen or more ways. We eventually sold the lot, for over $400,000, and it currently sits empty.)

City Council on the Web

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For some time back, Scott has been pondering the possibility of hosting A2 City Council meetings on the web somehow. The concept is also discussed on the teeter with the other Scott. Certainly the idea is cool (especially Pop Up City Council), but I have my doubts about some of the more extreme hopes being placed in it.

In Ypsilanti, the civic technicians are a little more experimentalist. Steven Cherry posted occasional clips of meetings, alongside the very awesome automated police scanner recordings. Ypsi Councilman-elect Brian Robb has been pushing the idea of podcasting audio feeds of the Council meetings, which, as he notes, are frustratingly not available on CTN.

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