Ann Arbor Area Parks and Greenbelt Proposal
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I am astonished at the reaction to Proposal B by some professors emeriti who are writing editorials for the newspaper. These editorials give undecided voters numerous reasons to stay home or vote no, then lamely conclude that the authors will be voting yes, despite their grave misgivings about the proposal.

Proposal B is a political initiative, not a doctoral thesis, and as has often been said, "politics is the art of the possible." It seems to me that the mayor and his advisors carefully examined the failed countywide open space initiative of 1998 and determined what was the maximum open space preservation that could likely be achieved in the face of determined, well-funded opposition from the homebuilders.

Everyone's pet theory is not included. I am reminded of a comment that one of our former school superintendents made: "Just because your advice wasn't followed doesn't mean you weren't listened to."

The proposal is not a panacea, and the mayor and his allies realize that in-town density, soccer fields, affordable housing, and a plethora of other land-use issues will remain to be dealt with after Proposal B (hopefully) passes. This election is about one question only: When our area is completely 'built out' 30 years from now, how much green space will be left? It isn't about affordable housing, soccer fields, or any other distracting irrelevancies the opposition is dragging into the debate, in a deliberate plan to confuse and alienate voters. The correct way to vote on this plan is clear: VOTE YES on Proposal B on Nov. 4th. Each generation gets an opportunity to designate choice green space in our area for preservation. Because of forward-looking responsible citizens and civic leaders of the past, we have the Ann Arbor city parks, the Metroparks, and such beautiful state land as Pinckney-Waterloo Recreation Area in our county. The Greenbelt is our turn. Our grandchildren will thank us for preserving lots of open space and farms around the much denser and more-populated Ann Arbor of the future!

Most of the claims and implications from the homebuilders range from misleading to downright false, and their authors are well aware that they are spreading untruths. For example, the Nov. Observer mentions (p.25) that the builders' claim that Proposal B will slash current park funding is "completely false". This is the claim that is on their signs ("Save OUR Parks--Vote No on B). Likewise with the HBA chairman's absurd claim that the initiative is illegal.

The builders can't use an honest slogan, like "Sprawl is Good--Vote No on B", so they are using expensive poll-driven ads that cleverly raise doubts and confuse voters, so that voters will make a 'safe choice' and vote NO. There is no positive theme to the No campaign, just a batch of unrelated (and often contradictory) negative assertions, each one of which is designed to persuade 50 or 100 voters to stay home or vote no on election day.

The builders found out that Ann Arborites are worried about affordable housing, and they are using this as a wedge issue to split progressive voters away from Proposal B. Ask yourself: Do you think the homebuilders are desperately fighting the Greenbelt because it will derail their plans to build a lot of affordable housing in the townships? A brief drive in the townships will convince you otherwise....

If we allow the deceitful campaign by the homebuilders to destroy this excellent proposal, they will laugh all the way to the bank, immediately forget about affordable housing, and no other community in Michigan will even try to designate a Greenbelt, because the builders will be able to say: "We defeated it in Ann Arbor, so we can defeat it anywhere!"

But I want to close with a positive vision: This community is a desirable place to live because of our quality of life: pleasant neighborhoods, an educated work force working at progressive businesses and institutions, vibrant and diverse people, beautiful natural areas, excellent schools. We who are fortunate enough to live here enjoy many amenities of a small town and of a large city. Proposal B is one small part (but a vital one) in ensuring that we pass on this quality of life to succeeding generations.

UM Urban Planning Dean strongly supports Proposal B. click here.

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Vote YES on Proposal B Nov 4

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