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E-M:/ What the Ann Arbor News won't print about Parks & Greenbelt Proposal

Enviro-Mich message from Anne Heise <aheise@wccnet.org>


The Ann Arbor News has printed an amazing number of stories and "Other
Voices" pieces about Proposal B, which would renew our park acquisition
millage and expand its scope to include purchasing conservation easements
in partnership with neighboring rural townships.  If passed, this unique
proposal would break new ground on a national level.

This is probably the most-covered Ann Arbor event of the past 10 years.
But it's curious what the local paper is *not* printing.

Below is a fascinating Op-Ed piece written by two well-known leaders of
Ann Arbor's business and environmental community.  We can only speculate
about why the News said that they "don't have the space" to print this
essay that cuts to the heart of the choice we face on Tuesday.

While you're reading this suppressed essay consider whether it's worth
your while to help B win.  The election will be close.  Developers usually
win when they spend big money to confuse voters.

Please help make a difference - forever - by coming down to Ann Arbor Open
Space headquarters at 315 W. Huron, suite 120 (lower level) from 8:30am to
6pm Monday to pick a lit drop route that suits you or to call supporters
to remind them to vote on Tuesday.  You don't need to live in AA to help.
Entrances are on Huron and Washington streets, east of the railroad trestle.

*The essay is below.  Feel free to pass this message around far and wide.*

Doug Cowherd  [volunteer]
Co-director, Friends of Ann Arbor Open Space
Chair, Sierra Club - Huron Valley Group

P.S. Questions?  Call 213-2174 or see www.a2openspace.org.  Proposal B
basics, radio and TV ads, replies to developers' lies, how to make a
donation, Greenbelt map, Q&A, and other stuff is on the website.


By Albert Berriz and Mike Garfield

(Albert Berriz is the Chief Executive Officer of McKinley.  Mike Garfield
is the Director of the Ecology Center.)

The two of us don't agree on many things.  One of us is an
anti-bureaucracy, lifelong Republican and Ann Arbor business community
leader who runs one of the country's largest real estate investment firms.
The other is a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat and nature lover who leads one of
Michigan's largest environmental organizations.

But there is one thing on which we strongly agree.  We both
enthusiastically endorse Proposal B, the Ann Arbor Parks and Greenbelt
Proposal.  The plan is good for clean air and water, and it's good for
business too.

Open space preservation is vital for clean water.  In Washtenaw County,
the primary source of water pollution is run-off from "impervious
surfaces" - the roads, driveways, parking lots, and other developed lands
in our urban and suburban areas.  Scientists have found that when a
watershed, or a "sub-watershed," gets built up enough that 8-10% of the
surface is impervious, then water quality begins to seriously decline.
According to research by the Huron River Watershed Council, several
sections of the Huron River are now near that tipping point, including
sections in the proposed greenbelt area.

Ann Arbor's air quality is also near the tipping point.  During the summer
months, ground-level ozone (a cause of smog) in Washtenaw County now
reaches levels that violate new federal safety standards. The number one
source of ozone and other criteria pollutants in Washtenaw County is
vehicle exhaust, and increases in tailpipe exhaust are directly linked to
the longer distances residents need to travel to work, to school, and to
stores.  By guiding new growth to already-developed areas of the county,
Proposal B will help protect the air we breathe.

Proposal B is also critical to the success of Ann Arbor businesses.
Several national studies have demonstrated the economic benefits of
preserving open space.  In one recent survey, small business owners ranked
open space as the most important factor in their choice of where to locate
their businesses because this is critical to winning the fierce
competition for talented employees.  In a National Park Service study of
the economic impacts of protecting greenway corridors, the authors found
that "corporate CEOs say quality of life for employees is the third-most
important factor in locating a business, behind only access to domestic
markets and availability of skilled labor." The Ann Arbor area's open
spaces help attract the high-tech and life sciences businesses that are
essential to our economic vitality and employment base.

In addition, the proposal will guide development to where it belongs - to
the City and to neighboring areas where infrastructure already exists.
The plan lays the groundwork for increased development density in downtown
Ann Arbor, commercial thoroughfares, and some neighborhoods.  It is a
critical component of the economic engine that can drive the Ann Arbor and
Washtenaw County area forward.

We are not the only business and environmental leaders who are willing to
stand together in strong support of Proposal B.  It's endorsed by every
major environmental organization in Washtenaw County - the Huron River
Watershed Council, the Washtenaw Land Trust, the Ecology Center, and the
Huron Valley Group of the Sierra Club - and by numerous state and regional

It's also endorsed by our area's most prominent business leaders:  Bill
Ford Jr., Bill Martin, Joe Fitzsimmons, David Canter of Pfizer, ProQuest
CEO Alan Aldworth, Richard and Norma Sarns, Gilbert Omenn, Bill Milliken
Jr., Howard Holmes, and many others.  Proposal B is endorsed by Ann
Arbor's Downtown Development Authority, the State Street Area Association,
and by Paul Saginaw of Zingermans'.

Of course, there are B supporters beyond Ann Arbor's business and
environmental communities.  Farmers and farm preservation groups support
it.  Parks and recreation organizations support B.  Several neighborhood
groups and labor unions back the plan. All of the adjacent township
governments support it.  Virtually all of Ann Arbor's elected officials
are united behind Proposal B.

In fact, the only active opposition is coming from the Homebuilders
Association of Washtenaw County, which has pledged to spend at least
$400,000 to defeat the proposal.  The HBA has tried to appeal to Ann Arbor
voters by arguing that the plan will take money away from parks.  The only
flaw in that argument is that it's not true - Proposal B actually adds
money to the City's parks acquisition fund.  The HBA argued that the plan
was rushed to the ballot, even though a nearly identical plan was put
before county voters five years ago.  While that plan was defeated
countywide, it was approved by City voters.

Over one hundred years ago, a visionary Ann Arbor leader bequeathed
Nichols Arboretum to the University of Michigan, and the land was
preserved for posterity.  Today the Arb remains one of Ann Arbor's great
treasures.  On November 4, Ann Arbor residents can cast their vote for a
visionary new plan to save our most important open spaces.  If the
proposal succeeds, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will thank us
for our foresight.

It's rare that business and environmental leaders unite so strongly behind
one proposal, but in this case, we're proud to send one unified message.
For the good of the Ann Arbor community, we strongly urge you to vote YES
for Proposal B.

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