Making Transit Happen – Ypsilanti Rail Stop


City and SEMCOG will host an Open House
March 18, 2009  4:00 PM – 7:00 PM 
Ypsilanti City Hall – 1 S Huron St

The Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter rail project is scheduled to begin its pilot service in late 2010. The City has been working with SEMCOG to provide for the Ypsilanti stop, and will be holding a drop-in open house session to discuss the needs and considerations for this stop. The stop is planned to be located in Depot Town, and SEMCOG currently expects to provide 4 trains daily in each direction at the beginning of the pilot service.

The City and SEMCOG are considering the needs for the initial startup of the service, as well as the ongoing development and maturation throughout the 3-year pilot program and beyond. Issues under discussion include access to and from the station, by bus, bike, car, and foot; circulation between the station, EMU’s campus, and downtown; anticipated parking needs; and ensuring that the train service supports and contributes to ongoing investment in the Depot Town business district and surrounding neighborhoods.

The open house will be held Wednesday, March 18, from 4-7pm, at the Haab Medical Building (111 N. Huron Street). The open house will be followed immediately at 7pm by the Planning Commission meeting, at the same location, which will include a formal presentation from SEMCOG staff. Questions and comments can be made during the open house, at the Planning Commission meeting, or to the City’s Planning and Development Department. All comments will be provided to City Council and SEMCOG as the project moves forward.

For more information on the Ann Arbor to Detroit rail project in general, please see SEMCOG’s website, .

Please contact Richard Murphy, City Planner, with any questions at<> or by phone at 734-483-9646.

Further Reading…

Mark Maynard has discussion on the rail stop platform locations as well as potential funding from the stimulus package approved by the White House.


Help me sustain a positive vision for Ypsilanti



Here are some of my recent actions on City Council:


·         Voted to safeguard AATA bus routes at their current levels and prohibited elimination of personnel as a funding strategy.

·         Voted to accept EPA funding for environmental cleanup in the Water Street project area adjacent to Michigan Avenue.

·         Voted to revise zoning on Forest Avenue to permit to establish their new facility and return parcels to the tax rolls.

·         Voted to reduce administrative costs in the Ypsilanti Police Department through an early retirement that avoided any layoff of patrol officers.

·         Requested the City update the feasibility study for a Storm Water Utility to recover costs related to storm water management.  (It would require EMU to pay for their significant discharges into the system to relieve the City’s general fund and ensure greater dollars could be directed to critical public safety needs.)


Maxe Obermeyer lost his last shred of decency

Truth should not be victim to politics
Just because a letter to the editor is published in the newspaper does not mean it is vetted for truthfulness.  As a public official, I am often subject to criticism based on a less than factual account of actions attributed to me.  However, once in a great while there is an egregious violation of the facts that I am required to respond to.  Maxe Obermeyer has submitted a letter to the editor published in the Ann Arbor News on Sunday, 03 August 2008, that contains such a blatant misrepresentation of fact that I must respond publicly.  It is widely know that my campaign literature contains reference to my express advocacy for fair and equitable consideration when addressing the city’s budget.  To that point, I have been criticized for my resolution that called for no reduction for AATA bus service in the City for the coming fiscal year.  So be it.  You may disagree with that position, as did one of my fellow council members.
Mr. Obermeyer did not let the facts stand in his way of advocacy for his particular candidate, Michael Bodary, and thus he was willing to willingly propogate statements that are patently untrue.  In his letter to the editor, Mr. Obermeyer stated that "Mr. Gawlas voted to eliminate AATA bus service".  The public record reflects the actions of Ypsilanti City Council on both 08 May 2008 and 27 May 2008.

As reported by the Ann Arbor News, "The council first voted in April to fund the service in full. But Council Member Bill Nickels, D-2nd Ward, was absent for that vote and asked the council Tuesday to reconsider its decision. He called it improper to cut other services to balance the city’s budget while sparing the bus service.The council approved the resolution to keep bus service in full in a 4-1 vote, with Robb voting against it.

Gawlas said many people in the city depend on the bus for transportation, and reducing the service would impact more people than cuts in other services – especially at a time when the price of gas continues to rise. "It’s important for us to maintain the bus service," he said.

From the minutes of Thursday, 08 may 2008, of the Ypsilanti City Council Meeting:

BE IT RESOLVED, that the City of Ypsilanti commits to safeguard this minimum service level and City Council hereby directs the City Manager to identify potential additional funding options including, but not limited to, further contribution from the general fund for the fiscal year ending 2009; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that City Council, both collectively and individually, undertake the task of advancing public understanding of the tentative nature of public transportation as it exists and call for a coalition of municipalities, institutions and private businesses to advocate a regional transportation model that better serves the needs of the County of Washtenaw.

OFFERED BY: Council Member Gawlas SUPPORTED BY: Mayor Pro-Tem Swanson Council Member

On roll call, the vote to approve the resolution was as follows:

Council Member Filipiak Yes

Council Member Robb No

Council Member Gawlas YES

Mayor Pro-Tem Swanson Yes

Council Member Nickels Absent

Mayor Schreiber Yes

Council Member Richardson Yes

Finally, again on 27 May 2008, the City Council again considered the support of bus service provided by AATA and approved the following resolution:

From the minutes of Thursday, 27 may 2008, of the Ypsilanti City Council Meeting:

WHEREAS the City of Ypsilanti has committed to safeguard current service levels provided by the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) and anticipates entering into a Purchase of Service Agreement (POSA) that maintains those levels, and

WHEREAS, the Ypsilanti City Council has previously given direction to the City Manager through Resolution 2008-088 to identify potential additional funding options including, but not limited to, further contribution from the general fund for the fiscal year ending 2009, and Council Budget Session May 27, 2008 4

WHEREAS, the City Council was provided a memorandum from the Assistant City Manager dated 16 May 2008 outlining three options by which the City can contribute in the event other outside funding such as partnerships are unable to be secured,

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council rejects any option that directs the City Manager to eliminate more personnel as a funding strategy for the Purchase of Service Agreement (POSA), and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council hereby accepts the recommendation of staff and directs the City Manager to allocate the necessary balance of funding from the projected excess revenues for the fiscal year ending 2009.

OFFERED BY: Council Member Gawlas  SUPPORTED BY: Council Member Nickels

The roll call vote was as follows:

Council Member Filipiak – Yes

Council Member Robb – No

Council Member Gawlas – YES

Mayor Pro-Tem Swanson – Absent

Council Member Nickels – Yes

Mayor Schreiber – Yes

Council Member Richardson – Absent

Political hyperbole aside (which I understandably expect during the normal political), Mr. Obermeyer’s misrepresentation of the facts is incompetence at best and at worst represents a willful effort to engage in deceitful actions in the advocacy of his chosen candidate.  Ypsilanti deserves better than this and I call Mr. Obermeyer out on his fabrication.


John Gawlas


Supporters (Part 2)


Council Member John Gawlas is endorsed by the Ann Arbor News


Here is what they said in their editorial entitled Ypsilanti City Council Needs Problem-Solvers


“We believe Gawlas has shown responsible leadership since he was first elected in 1996, and that he deserves to continue his work on the council…we’re endorsing Gawlas in this race.”


Endorsed by local entrepreneurs, progressive, environmental and community activists, including:

Matt & Rene Greff § Linda French § Lisa Wozniak

Beth & Lisa Bashert § Kira Berman § Sarah Devaney

Lisa Mills Walters § Fred Davis § Nathalie Edmunds

David Bates § Bill Nickels § Beverly Fish




ANN ARBOR NEWS – Letters to the Editor 7/30/2008

"As an extremely proud citizen of Ypsilanti for the past eleven years, I have watched the city struggle with a number of challenges, many of which are fiscal in nature and have been exacerbated by the lack of revenue sharing from the State and the disappearance of major employers, such as Visteon.  

In the face of these challenges, however, we have been extremely fortunate to have strong leadership in city government, with Council Members like John Gawlas who have worked relentlessly to keep a balanced budget while maintaining core services that the city’s residents care deeply about, including fire, police, and recycling.

Councilman Gawlas has also been out in front on a proposal for a storm water utility to recover costs associated with protecting our local watershed (which will ideally include a fee for our largest resident: EMU).  And, John has been a strong advocate for reducing barriers to private investment in the long-awaited Water Street project, a project the entire City will benefit from when it comes to fruition.

Don’t stay home on August 5th! John Gawlas is much appreciated on City Council. Let’s make sure we keep him there!


Lisa Wozniak"




The real issues in Ypsilanti


Thoughts about real issues we face in Ypsilanti


Water Street has taken longer than we ever expected which is why we cannot afford to wait.  This is a critical element of redevelopment with land cleanup and mitigation yielding long-term benefit for the city.  We must take action and not simply wait to the opportunity to present itself — because that simply maintains the status quo. To keep encouraging investment, we must reduce barriers so that private sector partners can make the highest and best use of existing industrial and commercial property to grow our community.


Quite frankly, I believe it a highly cynical political ploy by some to suggest the income tax is not a dead issue.  While it was right to consider all the options in addressing the fiscal issues facing the city, we citizens ultimately decided that prudent reduction and regional collaboration remain the chosen course of action for city council to follow.  Based on goals adopted by the Mayor and council, the city participated in a regional police authority study with the townships in Washtenaw County (albeit notably absent Ypsilanti Township) that outlined the feasibility and benefits in delivering a higher level of service vs. contracted Sheriff’s deputies.  With the full support of council, Ypsilanti Fire Chief Ichesco and Chief Hopkins in Ann Arbor have worked out an agreement that results in a functional fire district involving these two fire departments.  We are clearly leading the way for others in the county to deliver enhanced public safety to all of our residents.



The following question has been posed to me on more than one occasion, so let me share what I told Christine Laughren of the Courier staff…


“What do you like about the City of Ypsilanti?”

I enjoy that sense of place you will find in Ypsilanti.  Our diverse population, the natural waterway that meanders through this city, historic homes and structures, downtown and depot town districts all contribute to a higher quality of life.  I also like the sense of energy and engagement exhibited by many who have recently moved into this community.  There is a strong sense of community, manifested through volunteer collaboration and a grassroots approach to problem solving.  It helps to foster that feeling of renewal and leads to a newfound sense of optimism for our City going forward.


I also believe it important to build the brand of Ypsilanti.  Such efforts would be an aid in moving the Water Street development project along as well as position Ypsilanti as an appealing community in which to live.  My recommendation is to define a working committee of the Ypsilanti Board of Education and Ypsilanti City Council to compile an agenda of projects entailing marketing, recycling and recreational issues that would benefit the greater community.


When you are deciding how to vote on the August 5th ballot, I trust that you will consider my experience and perspective on the issues before us.


Dare to Compare






Go ahead and compare the two candidates for Council Member in Ypsilanti’s 2nd Ward.


Previously you had a chance to see my answers to the questions posed by Ann Arbor News / MLive for the Voter Guide.  Here’s your chance to compare our responses side-by-side.


You can enter your address to get a specific list of candidates for all offices in the primary, but for brevity I have afforded you a SHORTCUT.



Establishing Priorities – This Candidate’s View

Campaign Questions


I thought it worthwhile to include these questions posed by and my responses as a way of providing more insight into my approach to the issues facing Ypsilanti – John Gawlas


Q: What do you consider the most important issues that need to be addressed?


Redevelopment of commercial and industrial property within the city is critical to increasing the tax base. To encourage investment in our community, we must reduce barriers and seek out tools to assist private sector partners in achieving highest and best use of existing industrial and commercial properties. We should certainly maintain our certification in the Redevelopment Ready Communities program of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. The city must be at the forefront of economic development efforts in eastern Washtenaw County, leveraging the SPARK East incubator and pushing for greater county commitment to a regional transportation model. Long term sustainability for the City of Ypsilanti will require effective collaboration with neighboring communities to safeguard and enhance public safety. The recently completed feasibility study for a regional police authority was an important first step. Of course, the fiscal challenges facing all communities in Michigan point to the dysfunctional model of municipal finance in our state. Revenue sharing must be established as a priority while identifying additional regional options for funding transportation.




Q: What makes you uniquely qualified for the position?


I have been an active community member who has built relationships with the business community, economic development entities, non-profit organizations, volunteer and neighborhood groups. My experience has provided me a broad perspective and afforded greater understanding of how the collaborative process can increase achievement. Having served on numerous boards and committees, I also know how difficult the process can sometimes be to develop trust and consensus. It takes time to comprehend the eccentricity within municipal finance and the manner in which the local, state and federal governments interact. This oftentimes defies simple solutions, requiring one to embrace highly creative approaches to achieve success. In this context, experience in government is an asset that aids in the understanding of how to address complex issues. For over a decade, I have interacted with public officials within this county and throughout the state sharing our successes and failures. It is this knowledge base from which I draw when considering the issues facing my own community


Q: What else do you want voters to know about you?


I have committed a great deal of time to public service but also struggle with the priorities of being a parent. That has taught me significant lessons about patience, honesty, empathy and communication in establishing relationships. I take my role as an elected representative seriously and recognize that criticism or disagreement is a necessary component in honest governance.