Saline's Ann Arbor Street To Pedestrianize Again

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Saline is getting its pedestrianized street back. City Council voted unanimously on Monday evening to close a section of Ann Arbor Street, between Michigan Avenue and Henry Street, until August 29 of this year. At that time, the city will judge whether or not to extend the time period.

“Pulling any of those businesses out could be like a game of Jenga,” Councilor Dawn Krause said, explaining why she was in favor of the motion because of the inter-dependency of downtown businesses on each other. She added that closing this section of Ann Arbor Street “doesn’t preclude us from helping others.”

This development comes as a triumph to Saline Main Street, a business advocacy effort that works to advocate for small business owners across downtown, run by Holli Andrews. Andrews told the Sun Times News after the vote that Mayor Brian Marl was right when he said that the passage of the resolution meant the difference between life and death for many businesses.

Saline is looking at buying its own barriers to keep traffic away from the patrons of the restaurants and shops who want to frequent their neighbors’ businesses, but do not feel comfortable with being inside an enclosed business. City Manager Colleen O’Toole said that these barriers will be bought permanently for the city and will be filled with either sand or water, so they can be moved, but will be substantial enough to protect anyone in the zone from a vehicle.

The closure has not been without its criticism’s, however. Businesses east and west of the four corners of Michigan Avenue and Ann Arbor Street have complained that not enough attention is being given to businesses outside of downtown, holding up this as an example.

“We’re missing everyone beyond the four corners right now. They need help too,” Councilor Janet Dillon said.

She voted for the resolution. But she questioned how equitably the spaces within the social zone were divided up, wanting more of a common area where no anyone can go anywhere. Public safety and traffic flow issues were also brought up once again.

When asked, Andrews said that she would be fine with the city coming back and adding extra requirements to add more public safety plans for the zone in the next meetings. Several council members expressed interest in pursuing further measures to help businesses outside of downtown in subsequent meetings.

“It really was about closing the gap, getting the business owners directly to talk to the decision makers. They are the ones who have the answers and they really can help with making the right decision so recovery will actually work,” Andrews said.
Image Credit: City of Saline Twitter

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