The majority of Ann Arbor City Council voted on Monday, June 6, to deny release of the draft report on the Ann Arbor Station Alternatives Analysis regarding a preferred location for the proposed station. Mayor Taylor and five other Council Members stated that the release of the draft would be harmful for the city, and that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) are the official bodies in charge of the process.
We are disappointed in the outcome of the vote. We had hoped that Council would see the importance of greater inclusion of the public in information sharing and decision-making. Members of the press and several members of the community have reported that they have submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to the FRA for the information that was denied by the city and MDOT. We support the actions of all who have requested information from the FRA and MDOT regarding the Ann Arbor Station Environ- mental Assessment.
We appreciate the active support for transparency, communication and involvement of the public in the Ann Arbor Station process, that Council Members Eaton, Kailasapathy and Lumm showed, by their presenting the resolution to Council for review. We also appreciate the concurring votes in favor of release of information by Council Members Briere and Warpehoski.
Overall, our reaction to the decision is, “What? Did that really happen?” The Ann Arbor Station is identified as the highest priority for Ann Arbor's Transportation projects, in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan for 2016 - 2021. The budget for the Environmental Assessment, Engineering, and Construction totals nearly $50 million. A project of this proposed magnitude should have had more Council oversight than is apparent, and more communication with the community. The lack of openness for a signficant period of time generates distrust in the decision makers and in the project. We feel that the city should be more open with the public with information for this large and expensive project.
For more details of the discussion and decisions of the meeting, please see:
[Originally posted June 9, 2016]