City claims building park stairs too pricey, later tears out free stairs built by a resident


I’m sure that’s not at all unintentional.

It seems to me that the bottom line is this:
The city had a choice to either block off an unsafe pathway in their park, or to take the proper measures to make it safe.

Whether there are other access points in the park or other parks in that city need renovations more is highly irrelevant; such considerations do not negate the responsibility on the part of the park to maintain a modicum of public safety… a responsibility it seems that they were neglecting until it was brought to the public at large’s attention.


That is only true once the stairs were erected. Prior to that there is some assumed risk in using an unsanctioned and unimproved path.


Across the street from my front window is a slope on city park property. It used to have 3 rotting 8x8 treated timber steps, in serious disrepair, but still very much in use. After an elderly neighbor slipped on them spraining his ankle, the steps were removed - not replaced with new ones, just removed for “safety’s sake”. Now, I get to watch everyone slipping down the 4’ dirt/mud slope that remains, no grass was planted, nothing. They could have replaced them and put of a handrail cheap, but in Ann ARbor more likely they would have hired an engineering firm, a landscape architect, ADA and LEED advisor, etc etc. and it would have cost 10K. What is a citizens recourse in situations like this?

I could give many more examples of our city simply removing something to reduce their liability instead of fixing it, replacing it, or adding to/bettering the “people’s solution”. What is it about a bureaucracy that transforms simple solutions into expensive messes? LAck of oversight? Lack of leadership? Too much oversight? Paralyzed by legal fears? Whatever it is, I could do without it.


Forgive me if I don’t just automatically believe that arbitrarily.

From what I understand:

  1. This is publicly maintained property, in a park. (If Canada works the way the US does, that means it’s technically taxpayer funded.)

  2. People were using the pathway prior to the existence of any stairs, and had requested that some be put in, repeatedly.

  3. The requests eventually caused someone in a city government office somewhere to seek out quotes for the construction costs.

Again, we’re back to hypothetical “what if’s” instead of “what happened was…”

There’s no way now to “prove” that a person who fell and was injured prior to the erection of the stairs would not be able to successfully sue the city for damages, especially in light of the fact that the city was fully aware of the need.

There’s a good reason that they still put up ‘caution’ and ‘slippery when wet’ signs in public spaces after it rains; it’s a “given” that wet ground is slippery, but without signage stating the obvious it’s still a potential liability, despite any “assumed risk.”


Fake News, I bet. Have you seen the body? Have you run DNA tests on the body? If not, then how do you know for sure that Ford and bin Laden are not sharing falafel somewhere? Thank goodness Trump is in charge.

Yes, that’s sarcasm.



A shortcut like this (the original dirt steps), created organically by people just trying to save a few steps, can be very difficult to remove. The city would need to build a solid, unclimbable fence (maybe even a wall!) to prevent using the slippery shortcut.

I see this all the time on corner lots; a small shortcut forms, saving perhaps 8 steps. A rut just wide enough for single file walkers or bicyclers. Lawn owner attempt simple solutions (signage, porch-sitting-fist-shaking, simple post & rope fence), all to no success. For owners who really want it to stop, 6’+ high wrought iron fencing seems to work.

It’s easy to just put it down to laziness and lack of respect for other’s lawns. But there’s some sort of “Madness of Crowds” thing going on. I’ve always been freakishly cautious to not corner cut other’s lawns.

I’ve committed to not put up a fence if ever I own such a lot. Instead, I’d wait until the inevitable short cut is created and then make it into proper walkway, with paver stones, solar LED lights, and maybe even a couple of shrubbery for that nice two-level effect. Even though I’m pretty sure my nice walkway would lead to an even shorter shortcut (well, longer from a Pythagoras point of view), as the “crowd” seems to need to make shortcuts.

Props to the old guy for doing something. I’m half-convinced he knew his non-code-compliant stairs would shame the local gov’t to get a proper estimate and make the problem go away. Wouldn’t surprise me to find out he’s a construction contractor who knows how to play the game.

I may have thought about this too much…



Well… yeah, because generally before one does something, one should consider the hypotheticals of what could happen to make a good decision. Thus pointing out all the things that could have gone wrong is perfectly valid in evaluating someone’s decision.

I’m not even saying he did the wrong thing here, but “It all worked out in the end” is not the right defense for his actions.


So you’re with the “do-nothing” camp.

Duly noted.



and he didn’t have to spray paint a dick on anything.


Depends. If he thought “This will force action” then it was a good call. If he thought “This will fix it!” then it was an insanely stupid decision.

But really I just wanted to point out that your ends justifying the means rationalization is disturbing, regardless of how good a decision it actually was.



well, pointing out more than a couple of the most likely - or miscalculating the risk/benefit with a thumb on the scale towards imagined catastrophe beyond a reasonable measure of caution, is disruptive, actually. Certainly discussing them all is a power play and waste of even your time.

Disruption is not perfectly valid. It’s valid at times, but so is consensus and so are cooler heads.


Whenever I imagine someone making an argument based on special unique knowledge of the future (or an ability to read minds) I imagine that person speaking to me from the back of a unicorn.


Okay, this isn’t made to sound snarky, I promise, but you really, really don’t want to put the word “actually” in bold. It makes you look like one of those “well actually” people, and that doesn’t look good. Take it from someone who kinda is a “well actually” guy.

And yes, fine, pointing out all the things that could reasonably have gone wrong is perfectly valid in evaluating someone’s decision. Better?


I’m just guessing, but I’m pretty sure that’s exactly why he did it; to emphasize how you “sound.”


I’ve noticed @One_Brown_Mouse tends to use a lot of bold text in general (similar to how I often employ italics), so I kinda doubted that the was the point, but I could be wrong.

That being said, I felt my disagreement was perfectly legitimate in this case. @Melz2 made a statement (i.e. As long as the result was okay, considering the other hypothetical possibilities is outside the point) which I disagreed with (i.e. The ends alone do not necessarily justify the means used, so considering other possible outcomes seems sensible in evaluating the means.) While a comment thread isn’t just for arguing with strangers, I generally feel it to be a valid place to go “Wait, a minute, back up, because what you said doesn’t parse and/or has disturbing implications” provided it doesn’t turn into a full on flame war (Which is why, while I have opinions on that other thread about the Iranian woman, I’m not saying a damn word on that powder keg).

I am, and, again, this isn’t sarcasm, or means to be snarky, open to hearing why you consider my disagreement inappropriate. Private message is fine if you don’t want to do so in this thread. Or, if you have better things to do than educate me, I understand that as well.


Then that’s all that matters then; isn’t it?


In fairness, Mr. Astl didn’t take a stand. He just made the first steps.