Ann 7 Arbor Council Members Challenge Staff Refusal to Respond to Requests fo

At the most recent public meeting on the Ann Arbor Station Environmental Assessment, in mid-May 2015, members of the public were told by city staff that information regarding a recommended alternative location for the Ann Arbor Amtrak station would be provided within a month. As of June 2, 2016, over 12 months later, we continue to wait for information.

The last bit of formal information provided to the public was the Executive Summary of the Final Purpose and Need document, which was sent to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). We were told through informal communication, that a draft Alternatives Analysis of potential station location was also submitted to the FRA.

Requests for a copy of the draft Alternatives Analysis document were submitted by the press and by members of Protect A2 Parks to the city and to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), using the formal Freedom of Information process. Our requests were denied. Rationale for the denial was that releasing information on the potential location of a new train station based on the draft alternatives analysis would interfere with the frank discussion of the project by staff and consultants.

Council Members Jack Eaton, Sumi Kailasapathy, and Jane Lumm have prepared a resolution to be considered by City Council on Monday, June 6, requesting release of the draft alternatives analysis. Their resolution indicates that “the public interest in disclosure outweighs any interest that officials and employees of the City of Ann Arbor have in withholding communication between the City, the MDOT and the FRA regarding the City’s alternatives analysis for a possible new rail station.”

We agree with the Council Members, and appreciate their support for public involvement with the decision process. The resolution that they will bring to Ann Arbor City Council will be discussed on Monday, June 6. We recommend sending letters to Council in support of the resolution, for release of the draft Alternatives Analysis that has been kept from the public for over a year.

Additional reading:

Text of Resolution DC-1 16-0842 (Scroll to view 2 pages):

[Originally posted June 3, 2016]