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November 2004 Archives

Mayors from Ohio's largest cities are working together to lobby state lawmakers in order to stop cuts to the Local Government Fund. For many municipalities, especially cities and older inner-ring suburbs, the cuts could result in revenue losses of around 10%.

Starting tonight, the City of Cleveland will convene a series of public meetings on the spending of CDBG funds and the City's 2005-2010 Consolidated Plan.

The deadline for removing the two remaining disassembled Hulett ore unloaders from Port Authority land is the end of the year, but the Cleveland Landmarks Commission plans to ask for an extension. Preservationists hope to rebuild the Huletts, possibly at Canal Basin Park in the Flats or on the lakefront near the Great Lakes Science Center, but cannot begin raising funds until a plan is in place.

The East Cleveland Public Library is in the midst of a $3.8 million expansion, which includes an auditorium, a community room, and a computer lab.

The latest installment in the Plain Dealer series "The Price of Poverty" is a feature on Slavic Village and the racial integration, poverty challenges, and absentee landlord issues facing the neighborhood, as well as the roles that Catholic schools play in maintaining stability in a neighborhood that is in transition and becoming more diverse.

With development proposed for the Siedel Farms, the City of Strongsville is rapidly running out of developable greenfields. Meanwhile, the University of Akron is preparing to open a satellite campus on a 121 acre site in Medina County's Lafayette Township.

The City of Shaker Heights granted additional powers to its Landmark Commission, giving the board the ability to block exterior changes to historic structures. Previously, the commission could only delay work for six months.

Bedford Heights leaders are continuing work to make the Forbes Road Park a reality. Development of the 29 acre park should begin in the spring, and is expected to take two years.

On November 20, the U.S. Congress approved $121,250 from HUD to aid in the demolition expenses of the old hospital in Broadview Heights.

In one of the last steps needed before construction can begin, the Rocky River Planning Commission gave final approval to renovation plans for Beachcliff Market Square. The $28.5 million project calls for conversion of the existing theater to retail space, demolition of the newer addition, and construction of 102,000 square feet of new retail and office space.

Preparation continues for the Crocker-Stearns Road extension project. Groundbreaking is scheduled for 2006, with completion expected by 2008.

Public reaction to potential design elements of the Fulton Road Bridge replacement has been generally positive.

Despite vocal opposition from residents, Wadsworth City Council voted to use emergency powers to rezone a recently-annexed 150 acre area, after declaring an attempted ballot initiative invalid on a technicality. Over 93 acres were zoned for commercial and approximately 57 for residential. A 500,000 square foot retail complex, which earlier was awarded a number of zoning variances, is planned for a site in the area.

Contrary to earlier reports, the new Hannah Gibbons School was not granted a zoning variance. The Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals wanted to wait until the School District acquired the properties in question before approving the variance. The ruling is not expected to delay the building's construction schedule.

The City of Euclid's settlement with Providence Baptist Church is still a source of controversy. Mayor Cervenik defends the decision as fiscally prudent, but the Euclid Awareness Committee plans to appeal the agreement.

The Convention Facilities Authority continues its work on searching for a site and creating a mechanism for financing and running a possible new convention center. Authority members hope to quickly finish deliberations over the site.

The lack of progress on a new federal highway bill may stall Ohio road and bridge projects.

The County Engineer's Office may be taking over bridge inspections from the City of Cleveland.

The Van Rooy Coffee Company building on the West Shoreway has been redeveloped for office space as the company moves out to Brooklyn Heights. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in April, with an open house scheduled for Tuesday.

The list of potential sites for a new County administration building has been narrowed to four. County officials hope to focus in on one site by the end of this year.

Residents of Woodgate Farms in Olmsted Township received notice of a special assessment to cover the costs of extending infrastructure to the suburban community, two years after many of them moved in.

Upcoming events:

City of Solon officials are considering updating zoning codes to reflect modern definitions of family in order to address isolated complaints from residents and to change a presently unenforceable definition in the codes.

An estimated $15 million in the state capital budget has been earmarked for projects in Greater Cleveland, including $3 million for lakefront redevelopment and $3 million for mixed-use development on The Flats' east bank. At the federal level, the $388 billion Congressional spending bill includes funding for the Euclid Corridor project, the Fulton Road Bridge replacement, and for improvements at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Legal battles continue regarding an adult bookstore on Brookpark Road in Cleveland. Store owners had challenged the City's zoning, but did not wait for a resolution before opening the store last week. Cleveland officials will ask the Common Pleas Court to order the store closed until the dispute is settled.

The Cleveland City Planning Commission has approved plans for developments in the Detroit-Shoreway and North Collinwood neighborhoods with the construction of the Battery Park neighborhood on the former Eveready battery plant on W. 73rd St. and redevelopment of Lake Shore Boulevard from E. 156th St. to E 169th St., including the return of the historic carousel to Euclid Beach.

Lakewood Public Library unveiled its planned expansion which will begin construction in Spring 2005, highlighting a determination from Library Director Kenneth Warren to continue to improve its service amidst concerns about regionalization of library services.

Shaker Square celebrated its 75th birthday this past weekend.

The $388 billion federal spending bill includes $25 million for implementation of the Euclid Corridor project.

The Plain Dealer reports on the Ohio Rail Development Commission's plan to develop a statewide passenger rail network. The $3.5 billion plan appears to have support from the Bush Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration, while Representative LaTourette, member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has pledged to focus on high-speed rail options.

Locally-owned independent retailers are aggressively trying to take market share back from chain stores by staging marketing campaigns and pooling resources on a neighborhood level.

Jay Walljasper recalls his recent visit to Cleveland and discusses the challenges facing us and the assets we need to nurture: "Cleveland is a surprising, interesting city that shows us a lot about what's gone wrong in urban America and offers some glimpses of what we can do to make things better."

(via Brewed Fresh Daily)

Due to a recent change in Ohio law, municipalities are unable to regulate petroleum wells, and all decision-making power now lies with ODNR. Consequently, despite the City's previous rejection of the request, natural gas drilling could soon be underway at Knollwood Cemetery in Mayfield Heights.

Instead facing another challenge of the Village's zoning regulations, Moreland Hills officials quickly purchased a 5.5 acre site on Hiram Trail and added the property to the Village's green space land bank. Two different developers were interested in building cluster homes on the site.

The former Marycrest School site on Brookside Road in Independence may be purchased by Royal Manor Health Care, who plan to convert it to a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center. The company has not proposed senior housing on the 22 acre property, nor have they ruled it out.

Use of tax abatements for residential construction has become a controversial issue in Avon Lake.

The Lakewood School District acquired the two final properties needed to begin the first phase of their construction project, purchasing QuickChange auto service on Detroit Avenue and a single family home on Cohasset Place, both of which will be demolished.

The City of Bay Village Tree Commission, looking to maintain the health of the City's trees, has asked City Council to increase its budget from $15,000 to $30,000 per year.

The Fairview Park School Board has placed their half of the Gemini Project on the ballot. The 4.89 mill property tax levy will be voted upon in a special election on February 8. The City of Fairview Park could follow suit with the other half of the project as early as Monday.

Cleveland City Council declared Kilbane's Pub on Lorain Avenue as blighted and authorized an eminent domain purchase. The bar, long identified as a source of neighborhood problems, may be redeveloped as a sports bar and restaurant.

City of Cleveland CEO Darnell Brown says that contrary to the claims of some residents, work on the Collinwood High School stadium plans is "well underway", adding that the City is working on environmental cleanup of the site and acquiring additional land for parking. They hope to break ground in the spring and complete construction before next football season.

High costs of a proposed recreation center in Beachwood have the caused City Council to reject the idea and to consider alternatives.

Leaders of Grace Tabernacle Baptist Church in Lyndhurst, who had hoped to move to the former Heights United Presbyterian Church on Lee Road, are disappointed that the church is being converted to a youth center.

A Plain Dealer editorial responds to comments about University Circle by Peter B. Lewis, saying while the paper shares the billionaire's concerns about the slow pace of change, an active approach would be more helpful, and that Cleveland's Lakefront Plan and the Cuyahoga Valley Initiative could use his help.

Michael Gill of the Free Times provides his perspective on the recent unveiling of the Lakefront Plan.

Regional and independent library systems throughout Northeast Ohio are awaiting (and arguing over) the impending award of a grant to study the mechanics of merging eight independent library systems into the county system. Independent librarians claim that the study will not explore whether the merger would benefit taxpayers and patrons, while regional advocates argue that consolidation will bring fiscal stability.

The Free Times' City Chatter column includes a brief report on a national study which found that 77 percent of inner-city jobs are held by commuters, labor issues around the construction of the Warehouse District's Pinnacle Condominiums, and last month's release of a University of North Carolina study (PDF) which showed that over 40 percent of its human subjects had significantly elevated levels of mercury in their hair, an indication of possible contamination of fish and water from coal-burning power plants.

A day after the opening of Arbor Park Place, Cleveland Police shut down a neighboring gas station which a Common Pleas Judge declared a nuisance for repeated drug activity.

CMHA, like most other public housing authorities, automatically denies housing to people with criminal records, a practice that, according to Human Rights Watch, is exclusionary and does not make communities safer. CMHA officials maintain that their present policy is considered too lenient by most residents.

The Fund for Our Economic Future is the impetus behind the development of a set of economic indicators which will be used as a "dashboard" for monitoring the economic health and direction of the region. The Upjohn Institute for Employment Research will be hired to put the dashboard together, which will also include quality of life indicators.

After a contentious struggle, the City of Euclid and Providence Missionary Baptist Church have signed an agreement to allow construction of housing and a church on 68 acres of vacant land.

Frank Mills provides his thoughts on why Glenville should emerge as the next popular city neighborhood and what may be lost forever by the Lakefront Plan's changes to Whiskey Island.

The Convention Facilities Authority has hired PriceWaterhouseCoopers to study the benefits and feasibility of constructing a new Convention Center. The study should be done by February 2005.

A Rocky River homeowner wins a case to keep a nine-foot-high skateboard ramp that was constructed before municipal approval of an ordinance restricting the size and construction of backyard play structures.

Residents of the Central neighborhood celebrated yesterday's opening of Arbor Park Place, a shopping center that replaces the long-embattled Longwood Plaza, and which is contributing to the renaissance of Central. Key to the new development is Dave's Supermarket as the anchor tenant, whose target market includes the many nearby residents without cars.

In this week's Cool Cleveland, Thomas Mulready interviews business consultant Andy Birol about community attitudes, and Roldo Bartimole says that today we are paying for public subsidies of the 1990s.

University Circle institutions must do a better job of collaborating creatively to revitalize the district, according to Peter B. Lewis.

Oglebay Norton won approval of a reorganization plan to emerge from bankruptcy protection late this year or early next. The possibility remains that Oglebay will sell its 12 lake carriers, which may be purchased, along with docks and warehouses, by a group of merchant seamen.

The October/November 2004 edition of the EcoCity Digest links to last week's Ohio Wind Power Conference and provides supporting information illustrating how wind turbines can be used in Northeast Ohio to generate clean power and create manufacturing and research jobs.

The latest Bruce Blog includes a link to an initiative to bring the benefits of green building to modest and subsidized housing, including CMHA's new developments, kudos for County Engineer Bob Klaiber, and encouragement to the City of Cleveland to encourage urban cycling,

Ohio's working poor need more assistance, according to a study by Columbus-based Community Research Partners. According to the study, one in five jobs in Ohio pays less than poverty-level wages as industrial jobs are being replaced by low-wage retail jobs, illustrated by the emergence of Wal-Mart and Kroger as the state's two largest employers. Retail employment is expected to keep pace with broad employment trends in the near future.

Fairview Park's City Council and school board are about to decide the funding mechanisms for the "Gemini Project", which will create a joint city/school district recreation complex. The school's construction costs would be covered by a bond issue while the city would cover its share of the costs through a possible income tax increase. Voters will consider the separate ballot issues at a February 2005 special election.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission is gathering public input on its Ohio Hub Study. The high-speed passenger rail system concept calls for connecting Cleveland with other major cities in the region and for linking into a national network. A public meeting in Cleveland is tentatively scheduled for January or February.

Attendees of "The People's Meeting", a gathering of people who live in poverty, called for education, better jobs, afforable and safe housing, and access to resources and information as ways to lift Clevelanders out of poverty.

Inner-ring suburbs are seeing an increase in the number of rental properties, raising concerns from municipal officials that these homes will suffer from deterioration and poor maintenance.

Reaction to the City of Cleveland's Lakefront Plan has been mixed, with members of the community voicing concern over a variety of issues, including the preservation of lake vistas, concern over the economics of the plan, questions about impacts to health and ecology, and the balance between public and private lakefront space. City planners emphasized that further revisions will take place over time. Meanwhile, Cuyahoga County Commissioners appear to be backing off the purchase of Whiskey Island.

The Port Authority's latest step towards the implementation of a Cleveland-to-Canada ferry includes discussions with Canadian port representatives to address Canadian requirements for ferry service.

Today, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District board may begin deliberation on the sale of property to the Fuchs Mizrachi School, which has been planning the purchase of the land for expansion and relocation. Concerns about the support for the funding of public education, the relocation of private schools nearer to their students, and the efficiency of public school districts form the core of discussion.

Solon residents overwhelmingly voted to a rezone a 27 acre site on Aurora Road to senior housing, but City Council continues to debate over the most appropriate use of the site.

Developers are interested in building cluster homes on a 12 acre site along Pettibone Road in Solon. Although the City's zoning code doesn't permit cluster homes, City Council has previously allowed them through granting developers hundreds of zoning variances.

Although they were granted permission by Maple Heights City Council, developers of the proposed Dollar General store on Granger Road have not applied for building permits. They may be waiting for a resolution to the lawsuits brought against the City over the store before starting construction.

When ODOT refused to offer assistance, Garfield Heights Mayor Thomas J. Longo approached NOACA about funding transportation improvements in the Transportation Boulevard area. The Mayor is concerned that commercial developments like City View Center could lead to transportation congestion problems once completed.

Strongsville officials are pleased with alterations made to the SouthPark Center expansion plans, and City Council is expected to approve the plans in December. Construction may begin in mid-2005 and be completed by fall 2006.

The City of Cleveland expects to take ownership of the former Monarch Aluminum/Club Aluminum Products factory on Detroit Road. The property was abandoned by its owner four year ago, and since there were no bidders at a recent Sheriff's auction, the City will acquire the site via receivership. Redevelopment options, including renovating the building or tearing it down to make way for a business park, are under consideration.

In the face of continued inaction from City Hall in building a stadium for Collinwood High School, the Euclid-St. Clair Development Corporation has issued a request for proposals from consultants for a feasibility study on a recreation complex project.

Warrensville Center Synagogue is suing the City of Lyndhurst over its refusal to permit construction of a new building on Cedar Road. The City did not grant a zoning variance in 2001 that would have exempted the Synagogue from the City's two acre minimum lot size, and the Synagogue is claiming religious discrimination.

The Rocky River Planning Commission, which was expected to approve the City's master plan before the end of the year, has instead decided to study the plan's focus areas until next June.

The City of University Heights has offered $950,000 to purchase five acres near Gearity Elementary School from the Board of Education. Mayor Rothchild wants to sell the vacant land to Fuchs Mizrachi School, who would then move out of the old Northwood Elementary School, which the mayor hopes to convert to a community center.

The Brooklyn Sun Journal provides another summary of the City of Cleveland's lakefront plans.

Providence Baptist Church's failure to win rezonings in the election earlier this month did not settle the controversial issue. The Church's lawsuit against the City of Euclid remains open, and while the Church has proposed a settlement, all parties concerned are awaiting a ruling on the case.

Next week, a public open house will be held to present conceptual designs and gather public input about the Fulton Road Bridge replacement project. It will be on Wednesday, November 17, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Estabrook Recreation Center on Fulton Avenue in Cleveland.

Mayor Campbell spoke at last night's meeting of the Cleveland Professional Twenty-Thirty Club. She outlined Cleveland's plans to attract younger professionals, a population that Ohio has had trouble retaining.

Doing business in Northeast Ohio has its advantages and drawbacks, and some feel improvement is needed in education, energy costs, taxation, and bureaucracy.

In the second installment of their 7th Generation series, WCPN examines the potential for Ohio to become a national leader in wind power and looks at the model provided by Bowling Green, Ohio. For more information on the subject, see the NEOWind weblog.

Today's Plain Dealer provides highlights of the City of Cleveland's Lakefront Plan and includes another reminder about this week's public meetings. The first meeting is tonight at St. Philip Neri Community Center on E.82 Street, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Because the development of City View Center in Garfield Heights is the first Ohio example of retail development on a landfill, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is exhibiting unprecedented care to ensure that trapped methane gas from the continued decomposition of garbage is kept under control.

Playhouse Square won an award from the Urban Land Institute for the restoration of several historic theatres and the development throughout the Theatre District. ULI specifically cited the creative thinking exhibited by the Playhouse Square Foundation.

A full-page display of the Cleveland Lakefront Plan was published in Sunday's Plain Dealer along with announcements of the three public meetings to be conducted by the Cleveland City Planning Commission.

Plans to transfer ownership of Carter Manor, a historic building in the Gateway District, have come to fruition with the agreement by HUD to allow John Ferchill to spend $27.8 million to purchase and renovate the building, including the preservation of affordable housing and the development of street-level retail.

The cities of Cleveland Heights, Lyndhurst, and South Euclid are exploring the sharing of recreation facilities in what may be another example of municipalities moving away from a single city/single recreation center model.

Steve Litt reviews the Regional Sewer District's new headquarters, asserts that "its building is the kind of investment a public agency ought to make in Cleveland", and makes the link between past investments in public buildings (such as those along the Mall of the downtown Group Plan) and how current public buildings should be constructed.

Ohio tied for eighth place in Site Selection Magazine's annual list of most attractive states in which to do business. Topping the list were Texas, New York, and Illinois.

Debate continues in Shaker Heights over a proposed Walgreens at Shaker Plaza. Developer Wald & Fisher insists a drive-though is necessary, while the City and many residents are not in favor of one. No resolution was reached at a recent Planning Commission meeting, and the issue could land in the courts.

Tuesday's extremely close vote on a zoning change in Moreland Hills is expected to trigger an automatic recount by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Preliminary work on the Chagrin Falls streetscape improvement project is underway. After delays prevented it from starting this summer, serious construction is scheduled to begin in the first week in January. The project should be completed by next November.

The Solon Planning and Zoning Commission tabled a developer's request to extend Springside Lane and construct eight homes along the road, saying they need more time to examine and review the plans. Many residents are strongly opposed to the development, citing potential flooding, loss of neighborhood character, and safety problems.

Work is expected to begin soon on Emerald Commons, a $6 million, 52-unit development at the northwest corner of W.79th Street and Madison Avenue. The building will provide permanent housing and support for the formerly homeless.

Since the start of 2003, Olmsted Township has had the most new housing starts of any community in southwest Cuyahoga County. The Township edged out Strongsville and North Royalton, which have exhausted their supplies of easily-developed land.

The Lakewood Planning Commission and Heritage Advisory Board voted to nominate Birdtown for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood is the largest company town built in Greater Cleveland.

The City of Lakewood is strongly considering opting not to hire an outside consultant to conduct a parking study, and instead assigning the task to City planning staff. A consultant may still be required for later stages of the study.

A delay in acquiring property has led to a delay in construction of an access road, which in turn has led to a temporary halt of work on the Cornerstone development in Parma Heights. Construction is expected to resume on November 18.

Maple Heights City Council upheld the construction of a Dollar General store in the latest chapter of a long fight between the store's developer and neighborhood residents. City Council cited a desire to avoid legal action from the developer, but may be facing further lawsuits from citizens.

The Westlake City School District has established a task force to determine the fate of the Red Brick, its oldest school building. Formerly used as an elementary school and an administration building, the District has offered to lease the vacant building for one dollar per year to any group willing to restore and maintain it. They are also conducting a survey to gather input from residents.

Today's Plain Dealer Business Diary includes news of a US EPA citation of ISG for alleged clean-air violations from its Cleveland Works. ISG maintains that the incident was limited to the West Side operations start-up last year, and that the matter is now under control.

The Medina County Park District's effort to acquire a Chippewa Township farm via eminent domain may have become more expensive. Yesterday, a magistrate ruled that boundaries of the 68-acre site extended into Chippewa Lake, making it more valuable. The District had offered $530,000 for the site, while the owners were asking for $3 million. The eminent domain trial is scheduled on December 8.

Election Recap

Cleveland Metroparks:
Issue 120 (levy replacement and increase): passed

City of Euclid:
Issues 33 & 34 (Providence Baptist Church rezoning referendum): failed

City of Garfield Heights:
Issue 39 (Transportation Boulevard area rezoning): passed

City of Hudson:
Issue 25 (Promenade of Hudson rezoning): failed

Village of Moreland Hills:
Issues 55 & 56 (rezonings): passed

Village of Oakwood:
Issue 62 (Macedonia Road rezoning): failed

City of Solon:
Issues 80 & 81 (senior housing zoning category creation and Aurora Road rezoning): passed

City of Strongsville:
Issue 88 (Pearl Road rezoning): passed

For more results, visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections or Cleveland.com.

With its last major greenfield development underway, the City of Willowick is beginning to experience problems similar to the ones faced by other built-out communities.

The subject of this year's Western Reserve Studies Symposium is "Land Use and Prosperity in the Western Reserve." Topics of scheduled sessions include conservation tools, farm viability, balanced growth, and local community planning. It will be held on Friday, November 5, starting at 8:30 a.m. at the University Farm in Hunting Valley.

(via Cool Cleveland)

Former Clevelander Michael Devlin compares Cleveland to Boston at Cool Cleveland.

Myers University has opened its new MidTown Campus in the Stager-Beckwith Mansion on Euclid Avenue, which formerly was home to the University Club. The building houses classrooms, conference facilities, offices, a workout center, and the Myers University Club.

As part of the reauthorization of the U.S. Economic Development Administration, JumpStart, Inc. was awarded $735,000 in federal funds to aid in their economic development activities.

This week's Plain Dealer development news includes Ferchill Group's plans to convert a Pittsburgh bakery building into apartments and the sale of a 124,000 s.f. retail strip in North Randall.

A Cleveland Catholic bishop advocates for rezoning land in Euclid for Providence Missionary Baptist Church, arguing that the rejection of Issues 33 & 34 would set a negative precedent against other religious institutions.

Continuing the Plain Dealer's series of guest columns on arts and culture is a submission from Chris Carmody, founder of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, who advocated for building on a thriving arts and culture base and integrating cultural assets into our large-scale private and civic plans.

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