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Dec 16

Thompson Building Aftermath

Comments (3) 2:30 PM posted by admin |

Johnny Carson would have been proud.

Premonition #1

At tonight’s Ypsilanti City Council meeting, whether or not to provide a 45 day extension to a temporary traffic control order to close eastbound traffic on East Cross Street between North River and Park Streets will be discussed. I’m sure in typical City Council fashion, we will beat this one to death, but before we do, let’s recap.

The notion that this topic was beaten to death is an understatement. After two hours and fifteen minutes, everyone was exhausted. Luckily we only had another two and a half hours to go.

Premonition #2

One of two things is going to happen:

1) We are going to negotiate at the Council table. If that happens, it will be a disaster.

2) We are going to table this resolution for an extension until early next week giving us time to negotiate in private issues like liability, securing some kind of assurances (like a performace bond) that the work will be completed by a specific date, and some kind of recovery of miscellaneous costs like restriping.

Negotiating and tabling took place. The atmosphere was surreal and apparently very, very confusing.

The Ypsilanti Citizen ran the headline today
FATE OF THOMPSON BLOCK POSTPONED

That was a little bit of hyperbole.

The issue at hand is a traffic control order. Either Council extends (with additional requirements) the current order set to expire on December 23rd or Council doesn’t. The fate of the building is not an issue here. Whether you love it, hate it, are committed to it, or think that it belongs to the community, no action is going to be taken at the December 22nd meeting that will determine the building’s fate.

The Beal organization presented a plan to re-open westbound traffic on East Cross Street. This is what most people in the community have been waiting for these past 90 days. At the time the engineering drawings were handed out to Council, no one on City Staff had even seen the proposal. Council member Bill Nickels said he would approve the resolution as written and cautioned that if we did not like how things went after than, we could always rescind the traffic control order. I repsectfully disagreed with my colleague saying that we should take the time to ensure the plan is successful. The idea that we could simply revoke the plan on Council’s whim was planning to fail.

I moved to table the resolution until a special 7:30AM meeting on December 22nd. My reasoning was the Beal organization could meet with City Staff the following morning (today) and come to an agreement on whether or not the plan was acceptable to City Staff and what assets (i.e. street lanes and sidewalks) would continue to be required of the Beal organization to reconfigure their stabilization plan for the building over the next 45 days. Once that agreement was in place, Council action was not required to proceed. Council would reconvene on the 22nd and approve the extension with the traffic control order being much tighter in scope because we knew what these assets were.

That’s when things went awry.

Stewart Beal stated that the street could be open within 15 days if the traffic control order extension were approved last night, but if we delayed approval until next week, he would not meet with City Staff.

Call me stubborn, but I think it’s irresponsible to approve a plan that both City Staff and our engineers have not seen.

The postponement passed 4-3 with Mayor Schrieber, Mayor Pro-Tem Swanson-Winston, and Council member Nickels voting against.

All that’s left to do is point fingers.

3 Comments »

  1. Comment by Designated Conservative
    December 16, 2009 @ 5:25 pm


    Unfortunately, the current circumstances are simply the highly predictable end of a chain of events initiated by the then-Mayor Farmer when she engineered the convoluted takeover of this building by Mr. Beal. That the city manager and fire chief are left to deal with this mess is just desserts in so many ways.

    Every time I drive by the crumbling shell I find myself wondering how different the block would be if she had decided not to…..

  2. Comment by trusty getto
    December 19, 2009 @ 5:13 pm


    Oh, I don’t know. Whenever I want someone to cooperate with me, I simply refuse to cooperate with them until they do what I want. Sure, this approach only works about .002% of the time, but when it works, boy, does it ever!

    I’m not sure what the big deal is. Just ’cause it’s unsafe is no reason to complain. I just keep my kids in the house instead of letting them go down to the Ypsi Coop, since there is no way to walk on that side of the street anymore. There are plenty of things to do in the house anyway, and who needs to buy things in Depot Town? We have cars, we can go other places to shop, right? And the guy going the wrong way down the single lane on Cross Street this afternoon, he wasn’t going all that fast. Any collision would probably have not caused a life-threatening injury.

    Just do it his way, Brian. I’m sure Beal knows what he is doing, and I’m sure everyone who lives within a few blocks of this dangerous eyesore will totally understand if it remains the way Beal wants it to remain for another six months. Thii

  3. Comment by trusty getto
    December 19, 2009 @ 5:14 pm


    Thinking in geological terms, six months is just a blink of an eye anyway, right?

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