Eaton 9-7-2003

Letter to the Editor, Ann Arbor News,
dated 9/7/2003, by Jack Eaton

I write in response to Judy McGovern's September 7 column. She bemoans the City's "capitulation" to members of the Dicken neighborhood and the purchase of parkland that is not "high quality" forrest. She does not affirmatively state what she believes the City should do as an alternative to what the neighborhood has suggested. She simply opposes citizen action.

Is there a "high quality" undeveloped property on the west side of town that she believes is being overlooked in favor of the Dicken Woods property? No, there is no alternative piece of property in our area. The simple fact is the City has few undeveloped parcels of land. If the City seeks to expand its parkland, it will have to select from the available land rather than hold out for an unrealistic ideal of finding high quality forest land.

Is the park acquisition fund limited to purchasing "high quality" forests? No, the fund is meant for the expansion of parkland within the City. Conversely, few of the City's existing parks would satisfy the "high quality" forest standard urged by Ms. McGovern. Parkland is meant for recreation and for relief from urban density. Green space has inherent value to surrounding neighborhoods. Livable neighborhoods are the essential strength of the City.

A more significant point that Ms. McGovern misunderstands is that the property in question is unsuitable for development. If she were to take an unbiased look at the facts, she might find that development of this property will exacerbate the storm water drainage problems in this area. Additionally, development of Dicken Woods would have detrimental environmental impact on the watersheds of Allen's Creek and Mallet's Creek. It is not that we oppose have new neighbors, we simply don't want to suffer the detriments of displacing the water from these wetlands.

Unlike Ms. McGovern, the neighbors have researched these issues, including funding an environmental study, and back our positions with facts. The Friends of Dicken Woods organization has posted supporting information on their web site: Earlier this year, the Planning Commission denied a developer's plan to build on the land because of the legitimate concerns of the neighborhood.

Ms. McGovern concludes her remarks by observing that "the squeaky wheel gets the cash." Her apparent preference would be for wealthy developers to have their way in spite of citizen concerns. The Dicken neighborhood petitioned their government, as have many neighborhoods, and the government responded to the legitimate concerns of its citizens. I am offended that this bothers Ms. McGovern.


Jack Eaton, Ann Arbor