Runnymede Path on Capital Improvements Plan

Jan 20, 2024 | Ward 4 News, City Council

In 2022, I worked with City staff on a plan for improvements to a path at the end of Runnymede. This path is a city connector used by residents accessing bus stops on Pauline as well as children attending Dicken School. My efforts faced strong opposition from a majority of Council, led most aggressively by Ward 4 Council Member Jen Eyer.

Runnymede Path Ann Arbor map April 2022

This week, Ryan Stanton of Mlive reported on the status of this crumbling path at Runnymede.

Stanton’s article explains my efforts in 2022 to negotiate a City easement and get this path improved, at an estimated cost of $400,000. This year, the path has been added to the City’s Capital Improvements Plan at an estimated cost of $750,000.

Runnymede Path in Ann Arbor Capital Improvements Plan January 2024

Consistent with what was proposed in 2022, work on this path will include a City easement. It will be funded primarily by state/federal grants ($485,000) and the City ($100,000). The resident owners of 53 condo units at Walden Village will be asked to pay the remaining $165,000 toward improvements.

This week, the president of the Walden Village condo association spoke to Mlive and “expressed concerns the complex has a number of older residents on fixed incomes.” He explained that asking these residents to cover $165,000 is not realistic.

In 2022, I wrote about why it was appropriate to get a City easement for this path and invest in improvements:

The City of Ann Arbor recognizes the value of public funding for infrastructure to support non-motorized transit. In 2011, voters in Ann Arbor approved a millage to fund the repair of sidewalks in the public right-of-way. In 2020, voters in Ann Arbor approved a millage to fund the construction of new sidewalks. The premise of both of these millages: the community benefit of safe pedestrian access should not depend on a property owner’s ability to pay a City assessment.

Notably, if this path were located in front of any single family home in Dicken, residents would not be asked to shoulder the cost of improvements.

Council opposition to improving this path in 2022 was remarkable and I wrote about it:

In response to my resolution, one of my colleagues posted a string of claims on multiple platforms of social media: disputing the fact that I had worked with City staff, inflating the actual cost of the project, insisting that I had somehow interfered with a process that was close to success, and disparaging the Ward 4 condo residents I had been talking to. On social media, those messages prompted many more attacks on residents of Ward 4 and attacks on anyone outside of Ward 4 who supported the proposal. Ward 4 residents were vilified for simply seeking a solution to a problem.

I am very curious to see how this project moves forward. Though it is now listed and included in the Capital Improvements Plan, funding for work would not be available before 2025/26. Additionally, residents of Walden Village condos have not agreed to (and cannot be forced to) cover the $165,000 in cost that has been assigned to them.