By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The City Council voted July 14 to add a green space at Bryant Library, 22100 Michigan Ave.
After months of discussions, a proposed concept to convert the parking lot adjoining the north side of the library into the green space was approved as requested by the West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority.
The plan will keep two handicap spaces close to the current existing spaces, and the two handicap spaces in the bigger parking lot will be restriped.
Four regular parking spaces will be shifted on-street to Mason immediately adjacent to the library where two will be 2-hour short term spots and two 15-minute parking spots. On-street bike parking spaces are planned next to the street parking on Mason.
Also, a similar trash bin location will be maintained, and the light pole and bollards all be removed and a site wall with raised lawn edge is possible, but is not included in the current cost for the project. A 20-foot-by-40-foot tent also could be accommodated within the lawn area and accommodate 100 seated theater style or 64 seated at round tables of eight.
“The green space will improve pedestrian safety at the library and in the district, resolve existing storm water issues at the library, and increase economic growth and quality of life for the downtown and Dearborn residents,” the July 16 East and West Dearborn Downtown Development Authorities Board of Directors meeting documents said. “From the community engagement held during the design study and planning of the WDDDA Connector Streetscape along Howard, Mason and Monroe, it was determined that converting the Bryant Branch Library parking lot to a green space would greatly improve the pedestrian safety in the area, as well as providing an external connection to the library by creating a community gathering space for the library, chamber and community at-large to use.”
A public meeting was held Feb. 26 at the library where residents asked for additional dedicated handicap parking near the library entrance, improve existing handicap parking spaces and signage within the bigger parking lot, improve winter maintenance on the sidewalks and roadway that lead to the library, provide short stay dedicated library parking spaces, and look into future alternative book dropoff locations.
Councilwoman Leslie Herrick thanked the residents who attended that meeting to express their thoughts and concerns about this project. She also said their recommendations were seriously considered and worked into the plans that were brought forward and approved by city council.
“In particular, the needs for handicap accessible parking — there are a couple spots that are going to remain close to the building even though we’re adding this green space so we really listened to what the residents had to say,” Herrick said.
“I would like to add that I’m really glad to see green space being added, we have so much cement in our cities and in west Dearborn in particular that this is a nice addition to the green space that’s in front of the library. It will be a nice gathering spot when we’re able to gather again, to be able to have community activities and outdoor activities related to the library and others.
“Also, it is a place where water can be absorbed into the ground — it will help prevent some flooding or other water issues for the beautiful building that’s the Bryant Branch Library.”
Survey work for the project cost $9,500 while engineered drawings and construction costs are still being determined but are estimated to be up to $80,000, the July 16 meeting documents said.
Some of the project goals include resolving existing storm water issues by removing the impervious surface directly adjacent to the library, providing a programmable outdoor space for library use, reducing disconnected parking resources to improve wayfinding, removing the existing drive lane adjacent to the library entrances and exits to reduce pedestrian and vehicular conflict areas, removing driveways that cross sidewalks within the downtown core, and provide on-street parking on side streets closest to Michigan Avenue, according to a project presentation.
That same presentation with multiple proposed plans from the Smith Group JJR was presented to the city council July 7.
The city identified four sites within the downtown west end for the planning team to study and develop site capacity development diagrams. Further studies will be required to determine the market for and feasibility of each project, the presentation said.
Mid-term and long-term recommendations were made within the larger parking lot near the library, named “Lot B,” and on Mason.
Some of the recommendations were to meter the remaining on-street spots on Mason with pay stations to prevent all-day parking and overflow parking from the nearby gas station, adding an additional drop box to alleviate accessibility concerns, reconfigure the handicap spaces in Lot B to improve parking access, and evaluate and potentially redesign Lot B and the alley between Mason and Howard.
Three concepts were developed for the Lot B redesign that will improve pedestrian access from the parking lot and traffic flow for future consideration of city council and the WDDDA, but would require a greater investment.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])