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Archives for October 18, 2016

What should Ann Arbor do about deer? Council to decide next month

ANN ARBOR, MI – Ann Arbor City Council members are getting ready for what could be a contentious night when they vote on the city’s next deer cull.

Anticipating there might be a lot to discuss, and likely a large crowd of public speakers and protesters, the council is reserving the evening of Nov. 14 to hold a special meeting and public hearings specifically focused on the deer issue.

At that meeting, the council will consider approving a combination lethal/nonlethal plan for winter 2017, including bringing sharpshooters back into the city to kill up to 100 more deer and launching a new effort to sterilize up to 60 deer.

Mayor Christopher Taylor, who continues to oppose lethal measures, announced the special meeting as the council voted 8-2 on Monday night, Oct. 17, to give initial approval to firearms ordinance changes to allow the next cull.

The two opposed were Taylor and Chip Smith, D-5th Ward.

Graydon Krapohl, D-4th Ward, was absent.

“I believe that the discharge of lethal firearms in the parks is inconsistent with the community values,” Taylor argued Monday night.

Taylor was the lone dissenter when the council approved the first deer cull last year, and it appears only Smith, who is new to council, shares his view. A majority of council members appear ready to support another cull.

The ordinance changes, along with a contract with a vendor to carry out the deer management plan for winter 2017, await final approval on Nov. 14.

Several residents opposed to the cull were in attendance Monday night, some of them holding “Stop the Shoot” signs. Some spoke out, urging council members to rethink their position on killing deer.

Ann Arbor releases plan to kill 100 deer this winter, sterilize up to 60

Sharpshooters hired by the city killed 63 deer in 14 city parks and nature areas during the city’s first annual cull in January and February. The cull proved to be hugely controversial, prompting several protests and lawsuits against the city, and the Humane Society of Huron Valley launched a “Stop the Shoot” campaign visible in the form of yard signs dotting lawns around the city.

The city’s stated goal is to reduce the deer population in order to reduce negative deer-human interactions, such as complaints about damage to gardens and landscaping, and to support biological diversity in nature areas.

The Nov. 14 meeting, where the debate will continue, starts at 7 p.m. inside the council chambers on the second floor of city hall, 301 E. Huron St.

The ordinance changes given initial approval Monday night allow the possession, discharge and transportation of firearms in public in connection with a permit issued by the state of Michigan for a City Council-approved wildlife management effort. Rules for crossbows and bows also were added.

While the vote was 8-2 on those changes, the council voted 10-0 to give initial approval to changes to park regulations that are needed to allow the deer management efforts, including darting and sterilizing deer.

“This change, as I read it, is a necessary condition for both lethal and nonlethal forms of deer management,” Taylor said in support of that change.

Hope Carroll, a 1st Ward resident who identified herself as a lifelong Ann Arborite, spoke in opposition to the cull.

“I also ask you to respect the city ordinance that disallows the use of firearms in our community parks, and that you vote to keep our ordinances intact,” she told council members. “I ask that you consider the negative impacts of gun violence on our children and that you as city representatives send a clear statement to our children that guns and violence are not appropriate ways to solve our differences.”

Carroll said the cull remains an extremely divisive issue in the community and she believes there are many nonlethal alternatives.

Council Member Zachary Ackerman, D-3rd Ward, thanked Taylor for securing a special meeting to deal with the deer issue on Nov. 14, saying there is a need for a focused conversation on the topic.

Council Member Jane Lumm, an independent from the 2nd Ward, said any residents who want to express their views can do so at that meeting.

Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, said part of the reason for a special meeting is so residents don’t feel the council is rushing the issue.

“You can come and speak with us, you can write to us, you can meet with us and talk about your concerns,” she told residents Monday night. “It is not just an orderly process and a process that we’ve done before, but it’s actually an extraordinary process because we’re trying to build into it opportunities for you to hear what we’re hearing and opportunities specifically for us to focus on this issue and not have a multitude of issues that we’re trying to get through that night.”

Council Member Chuck Warpehoski, D-5th Ward, said the firearms ordinance changes are bringing local law in line with state law.

“We need to do this because the state Legislature has deprived us of our ability to exercise local control to determine what types of restrictions and regulations of firearm possession and transport and use make most sense — or highly limited our ability to make those local determinations,” he said.

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First look at Westfield’s huge new project planned for Warner Center

Last week, Westfield filed plans with the city for an enormous new mixed use complex set to replace the aging Promenade shopping mall in Woodland Hills. Now, the Australian developer has released new details about the project, which will bring 1,400 units of housing and two hotels to Warner Center.

The redevelopment is part of a wave of projects spurred by the new Warner Center 2035 plan, which was designed to reinvent the western Valley’s downtown as a more urban live-work community. In reference to the plan, Westfield is calling its project Promenade 2035.

A view of the community from the corner of Owensmouth Avenue and Erwin Street

In spite of the name, the 34-acre complex Westfield is proposing is actually a bit less dense than what was approved for the site in the 2035 plan. According to a fact sheet released by the developer, the project will consist of several low-rise structures clustered around the corner of Topanga and Erwin, with taller buildings planned alongside existing high-rises.

Plenty of open space will be integrated into the community, with a one-acre public square at the center and smaller parks and courtyards scattered throughout the grounds. Additionally, nearly every building will be topped with rooftop gardens and landscaping features.

The project site will also be opened up; new streets and thoroughfares will cut through the complex, integrating the community—essentially a brand new neighborhood—with the rest of Warner Center.

View of Promenade 2035 from the neighboring Village at Westfield Topanga

The complex will feature a range of housing options, from live-work studios to apartments to “luxury villas.” In addition to about 1,400 total housing units, Westfield is planning to construct 572 guest rooms to be divided between two hotels.

One of the most intriguing elements of the project is a large “entertainment and sports center” with seating for up to 15,000 spectators. Westfield notes that the venue could be adapted to host ” professional, youth and community sports as well as live music performing arts and speaker series.”

Promenade 2035’s entertainment and sports center will overlook the public square

All told, Westfield expects that Promenade 2035, which will also include more than 600,000 square feet of offices and 244,000 square feet of retail, will cost $1.5 billion. The developer plans to construct the project in several phases, with a timeline based on need and market demand.

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When is a weed really a weed, and more gardening tips

When is a weed really a weed, and more gardening tips

18 October 2016 , 9:29 PM by Gabrielle Lyons

How do you get rid of bindi-eye from laws, what do you do about green panic grass and more gardening tips relating to pesky weeds from Jerry Coleby-Williams, Gardening Australia’s Queensland presenter.


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5 garden tips for the week starting Oct. 8 – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

• Cooling trend: Daytime temperatures will soon be getting cooler (believe it or not) as days grow shorter, and plants will require less water. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks you can start gradually reducing the amount of water you put on the lawn and other shrubbery and then stop watering completely for the winter.

• Pomegranate season: Pomegranates are beginning to ripen now. Harvest one or two to check for sweetness. Beware of overwatering — just kidding. However, too much moisture from irrigation or rain causes ripe fruits to split. When whole, undamaged mature pomegranates are picked off the tree and refrigerated, they will keep for over six months.

• Pest control: To prevent nocturnal rodents from eating your maturing avocados and oranges before you can enjoy them, keep the trees trimmed away from power lines, the house and shrubbery, and even up several feet from the ground. Also try wrapping the trunks of the trees 3 to 4 feet high with aluminum sheeting available from local hardware and home-improvement stores, secured in place with wire (only at the top and bottom). Rats can’t climb up the slippery metal. Reposition the sheet metal at least once a year to allow the trunk to grow.

• Prime-time for primroses: Primroses don’t like the heat, but they will get a strong foothold if planted soon, and they will provide wonderful color throughout winter and spring. Choose from the billowy, pinkish fairy primroses (Primula malacoides), or the bolder English primroses (P. polyantha). These come in brilliant colors including yellows, blues and reds. Plant primroses in partial shade incorporating plenty of compost or mulch. Feed lightly with liquid fertilizer about two weeks after planting.

• Root of the issue: Horseradish roots may be harvested from now through spring. Dig pieces of horseradish root from the outer parts of the root clump as you need them. Peel, grate and mix with vinegar or cream to make horseradish sauce. New starts may be planted in late winter or early spring. Easy to grow with regular watering, especially in rich soils.

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Gardening Tips with Ohio’s Garden Sage

Harvesting apples, vegetables and herbs as well as preparing for winter weather keeps gardeners busy all autumn long. We discuss what needs to be done in your garden this fall, plus some current gardening trends.



Join Ann Fisher and Ohio’s Garden Sage Debra Knapke for an evening of “Drinks and Dirt” brought to you by WOSU Public Media, and the folks at Chadwick Arboretum, The Groovy Plants Ranch, and Lowes of Central Ohio.

The event opens with a Q A session on gardening with a focus on succulents. From there, each guest receives all the materials and hands-on instruction they need to create their very own succulent terrarium. Drinks and light snacks will be served. Drinks and Dirt is scheduled for Thursday February 9 at the 4-H Center on the Ohio State University campus from 6-8 p.m. This event is exclusive to members who donate to support WOSU.

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5 garden tips for the week starting Oct. 15 – Daily Breeze

Battle Bermuda grass

To stop or get better control of Bermuda grass in garden plots or flower beds spray now with Ortho “Grass-B-Gon” grass killer (containing fluazifop-P-butyl). This product specifically attacks grasses and will not usually injure other plants. Spray to wet the grass fully, and apply twice, seven days apart before it cools off too much. Do not mow or cut the grass before or after spraying, and do not water within an hour of applying this product.

Spring into action

It’s time to plant bulbs for spring blooms. Many stores and garden centers already have a good supply. If you purchase crocus, daffodil, hyacinth, narcissus and/or tulip bulbs, store them in the refrigerator for four to six weeks before planting. Amaryllis bulbs don’t need the chilling, so you may purchase and plant them right away. And if you already have large clumps of bulbs growing in your yard, now is a good time to divide them and replant some of the divisions in other parts of your garden.

California natives

Autumn is the best time to plant native California trees and shrubs. You may want to visit the arboretum or a botanical garden to see some examples. Consider Blue sage (aka Cleveland sage, Salvia clevelandii), a low-growing shrub; California lilacs (Ceanothus), which come in lots of different sizes, plant habits, and flower colors — mostly blue; Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), the very large, spreading evergreen oak that grows almost anywhere here; California sycamore (aka Western sycamore, Platanus racemosa), the large-growing, large-leaf, deciduous native tree with tan bark that peals off at times during the year; Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos spp.), evergreen groundcovers, shrubs or trees with clusters of white or pinkish bell-like flowers in spring; or Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis), a relatively small deciduous tree covered with tiny sweet-pea-like flowers in spring; and these are just a few of the many selections. Remember that even though they are drought-tolerant, that is only after they have adapted to the new environment. They MUST have regular water for two or three months. Then, after that, you can let them go pretty much on their own.

Prime-time for pumpkins

Harvest pumpkins and winter squashes. They are ripe when the shell hardens enough so you cannot easily puncture it with your fingernail. Leave a couple inches of stem for best effect and longest keeping quality. Store in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. Be sure to laugh a lot as you and your kids make jack-o-lanterns with the pumpkins.

Nut season

Harvest walnuts and pecans as the husks split. Remove nuts immediately from husks to prevent worm infestation. Spread out in a low box or shallow tray and allow to dry in a shady spot with plenty of open air. After several days or a week, check to make sure they have reached the proper degree of “doneness” by taste-testing a few. At that point they may be stored for use throughout the winter, or cracked and cleaned to freeze the nutmeats in resealable plastic bags available as needed.

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Gardening: Cover crops play an important role in nourishing fertile soil





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Garden DesignFest puts best Mornington gardens on display

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Braille trail, sensory garden, and marimba bench enliven accessible park project

Fall can be an idyllic time to explore the outdoors in New England. A newly opened park in Watertown, Massachusetts, wants to make sure everyone, from the elderly to the visually impaired, can experience nature on their own terms.

The Watertown Riverfront Park and Braille Trail, which opened in July on a site next to the Charles River in the western Boston suburb, features a quarter-mile braille trail and sensory garden, which helps visitors appreciate non-visual aspects of the outdoors. Travis Mazerall, a landscape architect from Sasaki who led the design team for the park project, says the landscape architects and designers worked to satisfy the needs of the entire public.

“Universal design is just part of the design for us, we don’t separate the two,” he says. “It’s important to, say, have benches for elderly people so they can take breaks. There are always strategies that allow you to go above and beyond the requirements of accessible design.”

The trail system and the marimba benches in the Sensory Garden

The park’s sensory garden

A nature area in need of an update, the park now consists of a new trail system, with a new set of braille signage and cable system to guide the visually impaired, as well as a sensory garden featuring woodworking by local artist Mitch Ryerson, including marimba benches and handcrafted wooden boat benches that tap into a range of different sensory cues.

The overhaul, which also included contributions from Chester Engineers and GPI Engineers, was undertaken with the goal of strengthening connections with the neighborhood through bike paths and better trails, swapping invasive species with native plants, and strengthening the embankment on the river. But designers also wanted to make it more engaging for everyone.

Mazarall says community feedback and dialogue, especially from the nearby Perkins School for the Blind, helped architects accommodate and anticipate the needs of a diverse groups of potential visitors. For instance, guide ropes and the new angled signage system allows blind park visitors to rest their hands and arms while checking out signage; oftentimes, designers forget that flat, vertical signs aren’t the most comfortable way to read braille. Better and wider trails accommodate bikes as well as wheelchairs. Granite benches offers more spots to rest and take in the landscape.

The renovation, which started as a pro-bono project, didn’t have a huge budget. But by widening their scope and investing in small, smart solutions, designers turned Watertown into a true community site.

Carved wooden boats in side the sensory garden

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Calumet area community leaders meet to address flooding issues

During heavy rains, Bobby Evans places pallets at the edge of his front yard in Dolton so children waiting for the school bus can board without having to wade through an unexpected river.

“One little boy, I used to have to pick him up to get him on the bus,” Evans said.

Evans and his wife, Barbara, have lived at the property on 156th Street since 1985. Over the years, when it rains, the five acres or so of vacant land behind him, made up of forest preserve and Illinois Department of Transportation land, turns into a steady gush that spills over onto his property.

“The water starts at 154th Street out of the forest preserve and all of it channels around to the front of my house,” Evans said. “It just runs like a river for three weeks.”