The Ann Arbor City Council met at Larcom City Hall Monday evening for the first time since the New Year, and their first meeting after the 2022 election, to discuss pedestrian safety on city sidewalks in the winter and the progress of a January 2022 resolution that sought to improve sidewalk safety. According to a 2021 memo, Ann Arbor administrators must provide a cost estimate of any programs concerning winter sidewalk maintenance, so the Council reviewed a budget analysis of recent developments at their meeting Monday.
The budget analysis, included in a December 2022 memo about the cost of maintaining Ann Arbor sidewalks, provides the cost of paying additional staff to maintain the sidewalk in the winter. In addition, the budget accounts for a new snow-clearing program the city recently implemented, known as A2 Snow Match. The projected cost of implementing all of the changes for two years amounts to approximately $953,305.
Councilmember Dharma Akmon, D-Ward 4, encouraged the rest of the Council to look over the budget.
“I wanted to draw my colleagues’ attention to (the December 2022) memo … this was a resolution that was passed by the Transportation Commission,” Akmon said. “It directs Council to work with the city administrators to determine who’s responsible for the acquisition, operation and maintenance of the snow plows and street sweepers … and to consider in the upcoming budget cycle.”
A2 Snow Match is a volunteer-based program that aims to assist Ann Arbor residents with shoveling snow off of the sidewalks in front of their residences. The program has currently recruited 31 volunteers, though they are still actively recruiting. The program uses geographic information systems software to match volunteers with residents who need the most assistance.
Any Ann Arbor resident who is at least 55 years of age or has a physical disability t and does not have any other aid available to them is eligible to sign up for assistance.
After the budget was presented, the Council discussed potential revisions to the language in the original resolution — specifically regarding the use of the word “disability.” Councilmember Ayesha Ghazi Edwin, D-Ward 3, said the city plans to rework the definition of disability to be more inclusive.
“Currently, language states that one must have a ‘physical disability’ in order to qualify for the program,” Ghazi Edwin said. “City staff is going to work on revising that to say physical, mental or other disability so we’re not functioning with any hierarchy of disability.”
During the public comments section of the meeting, Ann Arbor resident Adam Goodman spoke on behalf of a local pedestrian who was recently struck by a vehicle on Jackson Avenue and is now in critical condition. Goodman claimed he had already spoken with the Council about this issue in September.
Goodman said he now plans to contact the Michigan Department of Transportation directly about sidewalk safety concerns in the city and he encouraged other Ann Arbor residents to do the same.
“The Michigan Department of Transportation does not seem to care about anything except free-flowing hard traffic,” Goodman said. “The least the MDOT could do is add a few crosswalks to improve pedestrian safety and access in the city.”
Daily Staff Reporter Emma Lapp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.