Ivacko 9-7-2003

Letter to the Editor, Ann Arbor News,
dated 9/7/2003, by Tom Ivacko

In her September 7th column, Judy McGovern simplistically claims Dicken Woods is not worth preserving as open space for the sole reason that it is not pristine woodland. Does McGovern truly believe there is only one purpose for our parks: to be pristine woodland? Our parks serve many purposes, as noted in our parks system master plan: "[the parks system] exists to serve the needs and desires of the residents - by providing a full spectrum of recreational opportunities, while enhancing the visual quality of neighborhoods and the City as a whole."

McGovern chose to selectively quote an assessment by one city staff member to argue that Dicken Woods isn't pristine woodland. She also chose not to quote the following from the same assessment: "As 'Green Space' [Dicken Woods] would be an appropriate place for children and others to explore nature and engage in off-trail activities that are frowned upon in more sensitive natural areas." One of the many purposes for our parks is to provide our children with natural areas to explore, and through which to build a stronger understanding of and appreciation for nature. Indeed, the city's master plan says, "it is important to provide children with open and wooded undeveloped areas for creative play opportunities, but there are limited sites available for this type of activity in the West Area." The Friends believe Dicken Woods' location adjacent to Dicken Elementary School makes it even more compelling for preservation, since it will serve to enhance the curriculum at Dicken while also serving these other roles.

The Friends did extensive research of Dicken Woods and it's relationship to the city's and the parks master plans, as well as the Allen's and Malletts creeksheds and their management plans. As the Friends' understanding of Dicken Woods' unique role grew, they built their preservation efforts on logical arguments. In one effort, the Friends outlined how Dicken Woods fit with seventeen individual site acquisition criteria in the parks master plan, as well as five of it's overarching system wide goals. The Friends also received support from highly respected local environmental and educational organizations. All of this information convinced parks commissioners of Dicken Woods' worth as open space. And all of this information is available on the Friends website (http://dickenwoods.org). The News' readers would have been better served had McGovern taken time for some research too.


Thomas Ivacko, Ann Arbor