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Re: E-M:/ Ann Arbor's stalled Greenbelt




I just had to respond as I feel so deeply.   I agree with Chris.  This article does not confirm the feelings of Mr Hanson and Mr. Cowherd.  Let me take it a step further, as I am so disappointed in the situation.  Honest critiques are critical and healthy to make sure a project is on track, but to be critical without due cause is not a quality I look for in my community leadership.  Alas, this article demonstrates that the sour grapes are still just as sour today as they were when the City Council made their appointments to the Greenbelt Commission.

First, the Greenbelt is not stalled.  These things take time, especially if you want it to be done right.  The only real ruler for progress we have is the time line of other, similar programs. Washtenaw County's limited "sensitive lands" preservation program took 26 months from passage to first purchase of land. The Lexington Ken. program took 24 months.  In contrast, the Ann Arbor Greenbelt program should be making its first purchase in the area of 18 months after passage.  Washtenaw County program is great, as will be the Ann Arbor Greenbelt once the most sensitive aspects of a good strong program are accomplished; i.e., setting up the structure.  Nothing will kill a project faster than a hastily or ill planned infrastructure.

Secondly, many of us have also experienced the phases of a project, each requiring different talents and skills to bring that project to the next level.  It does take a village and a diverse body to create a representative and whole result.  Competent, strong environmentalists were appointed to the Greenbelt Commission and are doing a fine job. Among them are Mike Garfield. Exec. Director of the Ecology Center who was the leader of the Greenbelt Campaign, is chair  of the Commission and Laura Rubin Ex. Director of the Huron River Watershed Council is Vice Chair.  Bob Johnson of City Council, also a strong environmentalist also serves on the Commission and is a life member of the Sierra Club.

Each of us in our careers have experienced a "Moses Moment", when we need to pass the torch and let a new generation or a new group of leaders bring our favorite project to fruition.  There are many brilliant and talented people in every community, and they should be given an opportunity to play a role.  This was a moment for some to step aside gracefully allowing other competent passionate people in town a crack at it. 

It deeply saddens me to see it come to this as there are so many better ways to expend ones energy.   I hope that everyone will pull together on the Greenbelt or find another exciting project to bring to fruition.  There is much good work to be done, so let's get to it!

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Lauri Kay Elbing
Master's of Science Candidate: UM-School of Natural Resources & Environment
Former Congressional Staff Member