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SG-W:/ Vote YES for Ann Arbor Parks

**** Please forgive cross-postings****

If you live and vote in Ann Arbor, I urge you to vote YES on the 
parks renewal millage at the very bottom of Tuesday's election 
ballot.  The millage level is unchanged from the level of the 
previous millage, and it provides critical funding for the city's 
park system to do the non-routine repairs and restoration needed to 
keep the parks in decent shape.

The ballot proposal has been endorsed unanimously by the entire City 
Parks Advisory Commission, by the Ecology Center and Sierra Club, by 
Mayor John Hieftje, by his Republican mayoral challenger Marcia 
Higgins, and by the Republican mayoral candidate in the last 
election.  Unfortunately, the Ann Arbor News has been editorializing 
against the proposal, misrepresenting the position of millage 
supporters, and refusing to print several letters to the editor in 
support of the proposal.  Since the parks proposal has been otherwise 
little publicized, we fear that voters may get most of their 
information about the plan from the News.

So, in a small gesture for equal time, below is a brief article about 
the parks plan submitted to (but not printed by) the Ann Arbor News. 
Please circulate this note as widely as possible, and remember to 
vote YES for parks on Tuesday.  And feel free to contact me with 
questions by email or by phone at 761-3186 ext. 104.

Mike Garfield



Doug Cowherd and Mike Garfield

Ann Arbor has a fantastic parks system with gorgeous natural areas and
extensive recreation facilities.  What the parks system does not have -
unless residents vote for it - is money to do the non-routine repairs and
restoration necessary to keep the parks in good shape.

On November 5th, Ann Arbor residents will have the chance to vote on a
ballot proposal labeled "A Replacement Tax For Parks." If approved, this
Parks Repair and Restoration millage will continue the current level of
funding provided by the expiring millage it is designed to replace.  The
cost to the average homeowner will remain a little over $3 per month.
These funds will pay for things like planting and caring for trees,
landscaping, resurfacing playgrounds, repairing electrical systems, and
restoring natural areas.

Before putting the replacement millage on the fall ballot, the Ann Arbor
City Council passed a resolution that provides greater accountability in
dealing with millage funds.  Council members specified that Parks Repair
and Restoration millage funds can be spent only on work done in City
parks, they capped City overhead charges at 2%, and they clearly defined
the activities that can be paid for with these funds so that millage money
can't be "raided" for other purposes.  These reforms were exactly what we
needed to make sure that voter-approved millage funds will be spent in the
way that residents expect.

Environmentalists should be especially interested in this Parks millage
because it pays for the Natural Area Preservation (NAP) program which
restores and protects our best natural places.  The NAP program is best
known for the work they do with "prescribed burns" and physical removal to
fight the invasion of non-native plants that threaten to squeeze out
native plants and destroy the habitat required for native Michigan plants
and animals to thrive.  NAP also maintains trails, collects and plants
native seeds, and conducts other stewardship activities.  Millage funds
pay for the professional expertise necessary to train and supervise the
local volunteers who are projected to spend 5000 hours working on these
projects next year.  This leveraging of our tax dollars makes this perhaps
the most cost-effective operation in City government.

The Ann Arbor News has questioned the involvement of the leaders of the
Sierra Club and Ecology Center in determining the millage language.  We
believe it is our duty as leaders of local civic organizations to ensure
that Parks millages are clear to voters and limit spending only to the
legitimate purposes approved by voters.

With the new safeguards in place that guarantee frugality and
accountability, the Parks Repair and Restoration replacement millage will
provide the funds required to take good care of the 2000 acres of parkland
that we're so lucky to have. If you love your parks, this is a millage you
can vote for with enthusiasm.


Doug Cowherd is Co-Chair of the Huron Valley Group of the Sierra 
Club.  Mike Garfield is Director of the Ecology Center.

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