Ypsilanti officials want to clarify details of a lawsuit filed against the owner of a sculpture park at the Water Street Redevelopment Project.
The city filed suit against organizer Jeff Clark and anyone else who did not have permission to use the site, giving them 15 days to remove the installation artwork at Water Street Commons. Local writer Mark Maynard received a warning letter regarding an area of the property he previously requested to use.
Ypsilanti Community Development Director Beth Ernat says the actions were a procedural difference in what the city needed to do legally. “One person had permission to be on the property at one point,” she says. “We sent them a letter...to let them know that we would not be continuing that permission. The other person had entered the site without permission and that lawsuit that was filed is for anyone accessing the site without permission. They were two completely separate actions.”
Ernat says Clark has until May 4 to remove artwork from the site. A new fence will be installed after that deadline. The city will also increase police patrols of the area.
The changes were made to keep residents from being exposed to contamination at the Water Street property and to protect the city from potential legal actions, Ernat says. “We understood that there was contamination [at the site]. We’re just finding it at higher levels [than previously known]. We’re being proactive, reactive to the situation.”
In 2015, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority expressed concern over excessive levels of PCBs and other dangerous contaminants at the Water Street property, which Ypsilanti planned to develop as Section 8 housing and part of Riverwalk Commons.