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April 2006 Archives

Like last year, Ohio and Cuyahoga County received failing grades in the American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report. While national figures showed improvement, the metropolitan area was ranked number 10 on the list of most particle-polluted and number 16 in the list of most ozone-polluted cities.

The preliminary findings of the 2006 Northeast Ohio Barometer poll were released yesterday. It shows that residents support regional school funding and consolidating emergency services, but oppose regional government.

The Cleveland Landmarks Commission voted unanimously yesterday to nominate the Broadway Mills Building and adjacent Central Viaduct remnants for Cleveland Landmark status. Both are threatened by ODOT's proposed new Innerbelt bridge.

Proposed Lake Erie ferry service linking Grand River with Ontario likely will not proceed due to a lack of funding and support. A Lake County commissioner says the plan "has zero chance of happening."

A proposed three mile greenway in Euclid was presented to residents at a meeting on April 18. The trail would link the Cleveland Metroparks Euclid Creek Reservation with Wildwood State Park. The next meeting about the trail will be on May 4 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Euclid Central Middle School.

The Lakewood City School District will hold open houses and architectural presentations next month at Horace Mann and Emerson Schools. Beginning in 2007-2008, both buildings will be converted from middle schools to elementary schools as part of the District's seven-year construction program.

Construction work continues on the new Towpath Trail bridge over Granger Road in Valley View.

Last week, the historic Stearns carriage house was moved from its Lorain Road site to a new location at the Frostville Museum in the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation.

A Plain Dealer editorial supports recent actions by Cleveland City Council to assist the Flats east bank development.

The Cleveland City Council authorized $120,000 to tear down the vacant and fire-damaged Memphis School. Officials hope demolition of the building at Memphis Avenue and West 41st Street will be completed early this summer.

Friends of Big Creek found evidence that a leaking water valve was leaching chlorinated city water into the Cleveland Metroparks Brookside Reservation. The Cleveland Division of Water will repair the leak, although they were unable to say when.

The May issue of Inside Business includes articles on the Northeast Ohio real estate market, a local high-performance building team, and a critique of University Circle leadership.

Although Lyndhurst has expressed reluctance about joining a proposed joint recreation district, the other municipalities involved have received positive feedback from residents. City officials in South Euclid, Richmond Heights, and University Heights say the project would provide many benefits to the area.

Bedford City Manager Robert Reid and others have proposed the demolition of the City's 1852 downtown train depot in order to redevelop the site. The proposal has been met with opposition from the Bedford Historical Society.

Yesterday marked the debut of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance's clean and safe program. The "safety ambassadors" and a "clean team" will provide security and maintenance across the downtown special improvement district.

NOACA's Air Quality Public Advisory Task Force is finalizing recommendations for the eight-county area to meet federally-mandated ozone standards. The strategies will be submitted to the Ohio EPA for inclusion in the statewide plan.

Mark Comstock, the Berea municipal judge, says he may issue a court order that would force the City of Berea to build a new courthouse. A plan for a new building was dropped when Middleburg Heights leaders rejected a five-city financing system.

In this week's Free Times, Michael Gill explores the Flats east bank controversy from the point of view of current propert owners.

Ohio EPA director Joseph P. Koncelik explains why he supports the Ohio air pollution bill that has been derided by environmentalists.

Roldo Bartimole writes about urban renewal, despair, and the Cavaliers' planned Independence practice facility.

Last night, Cleveland City Council approved a development agreement and more than $16 million in infrastructure improvements to support Scott Wolstein's Flats east bank redevelopment project. Council also passed an amendment that would allow the City to purchase the land if the project is cancelled. Several Flats property owners remain opposed to the project.

The Nordonia Hills Board of Education yesterday approved a multi-million dollar funding agreement with the developers of a proposed soccer stadium and retail complex near Route 8 in northern Summit County.

(Update: the Plain Dealer and the Nordonia Hills Sun have more information about the decision.)

National Park Service crews are restoring the historic Gleeson House at Canal and Tinkers Creek Roads in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Cuyahoga County Treasurer James Rokakis responds to an editorial by Plain Dealer columnist Kevin O'Brien that criticizes his efforts to seek payments in lieu of taxes from major local tax-exempt institutions.

An HGTV camera crew was in town to film work on the Heritage Lane rehabilitation project on East 105th Street in Glenville. The neighborhood will be featured in the network's Restore America series.

Yesterday, the Plain Dealer took a detailed look at developer Robert Stark's ideas and plans for downtown Cleveland, including his efforts to partner with Warehouse District parking lot owners.

Although threats from development remain, the Cuyahoga River is significantly healthier than it was 40 years ago due to pollution control and remediation, land protection, and increased public awareness.

While the I-271 corridor in Beachwood is considered by many to be the strongest hotel market in Greater Cleveland, five of the hotels have applied for property tax reductions in the last three years.

Many politicians, environmentalists, and businessmen believe Ohio's slow permitting process and lack of incentives are to blame for its lagging ethanol production industry. Although the state is a major corn producer and the fourth-highest consumer of this alternative fuel, Ohio ranks 18th out of the 19 states involved in ethanol production.

In a study published as a follow-up (PDF) to their book Tomorrow's Cities, Tomorrow's Suburbs, University of Virginia professors William Lucy and David Phillips report that while some large cities (including Cleveland) have experienced shrinking populations, their per-capita income increased relative to their suburbs.

(via Crain's Cleveland Business)

Frank Jackson and ODOT reached an agreement about plans for the reconstruction (PDF) of the Innerbelt trench. The compromise calls for the Broadway Avenue exit to stay open, but the Carnegie Avenue and Prospect Avenue exits remain slated for removal.

David Morgenthaler urges Greater Clevelanders to plan regionally, strengthen education, and promote innovation in order to improve the area's competitiveness.

Saturday's Plain Dealer Community News Briefs report that one of the gambling ballot initiatives was certified by the Ohio Attorney General's office, the Cleveland Planning Commission approved the rehab of the former East Woodland Estates apartments at East 75th Street and Woodland Avenue, and that Team NEO plans to collaborate with the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County and Summit County Port Authorities.

Ohio has committed $2.8 million in its efforts to attract the FutureGen demonstration coal-burning power plant. The plant will test and use an array of new clean technologies meant to reduce air pollution in the production of electricity and hydrogen-rich synthetic gas. The plant is projected to bring 1,000 construction jobs and 150 full-time jobs as well as related research jobs.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Rosewood Place development in Lakewood was held on Friday.

Instead of selling his parking lot, Lighthouse Landing developer Victor Shaia has offered to provide parking spaces in the proposed development for Scott Wolstein's Flats east bank project.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority this morning unanimously voted to authorize the use of eminent domain to purchase properties for the Flats east bank development if negotiations are unsuccessful. Cleveland City Council is expected to vote on eminent domain legislation on Monday.

(Update: the Plain Dealer offers more information.)

In the wake of an explosion and fire yesterday at General Environmental Management that injured six workers, the Ohio EPA worked to keep a hazardous waste spill away from the Cuyahoga River, and environmentalists are calling for the facility to be permanently shut down (MS Word).

(Update: the Plain Dealer and Channel 3 provide additional details, reactions, and images.)

NOACA awarded a total of $997,000 in grants to 16 projects (PDF) as part of the Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative program. Among this year's recipients were a transit study for Pearl Road and West 25th Street, two projects in Lakewood, and projects in Fairview Park and Rocky River.

Crain's Cleveland Business toured University Circle's renovated John Hay High School, scheduled to reopen this fall.

Wal-Mart wants to build a 99,000 square foot addition to its 128,000 square foot store on Pearl Road in Strongsville, and turn it into a supercenter.

At a public meeting last week, North Royalton residents offered suggestions for downtown transportation options, including a walking path, a traffic circle, and a median for Royalton Road.

A new open space zoning classification has been introduced in Cleveland City Council, a designation that could be applied to parks within the City. The first use of open space zoning would be Jim Mohan Park, a park along the west side lakefront better known as Dogbone Park.

Board of Zoning Appeals members in Independence are concerned about the impacts of Twin Creeks (PDF), an 11 house subdivision proposed for eight privately-owned acres along Hillside Road within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

If passed next month, Issue 12 in Broadview Heights would eliminate storage units and warehouses as permitted uses in areas zoned for office/laboratory or light industrial use.

The first step in decommissioning the Advanced Medical Systems building is nearly complete. Ward 10 Councilman Roosevelt Coats is encouraged by the progress in remediation efforts, including the removal of highly radioactive Cobalt-60, but feels the process must be monitored closely.

Despite their misgivings, Brunswick Hills Township Trustees agreed to participate in a study conducted by Strategic Public Policy. The study will analyze the pluses and minuses of a potential merger with the City of Brunswick.

Lyndhurst City Council voted on April 17th to table the vote regarding the City's involvement in the proposed joint recreation district. Mayor Cicero wants to explore the possibility of non-governmental funding partners for the project, such as the Greater Cleveland YMCA, before a decision is made.

The Plain Dealer's Thomas W. Gerdel interviewed executives Jim Griffith and Steve Gage of MAGNET about the new manufacturing organization. The audio of the interview is available as a stream and as an MP3 (11.4 MB).

In response to concerns expressed by several neighbors, the Cleveland Heights Planning Commission decided to table a proposal for a conditional use permit, the final component in Ruffing Montessori School's plan to redevelop adjacent property as an outdoor play area, garden and eco-laboratory pavilion for its students.

Some local rail advocates and politicians are promoting a plan for a proposed passenger rail (PDF) connection between Lorain and Cleveland.

(Update: the Chronicle-Telegram has more information.)

The latest report from Ohio PIRG provides details about the risks to public health caused by combined sewer overflows.

(Update: the Akron Beacon Journal provides additional news.)

The Dashboard Indicators for the Northeast Ohio Economy study prepared for the Fund for Our Economic Future identified a set of eight economic indicators to measure economic performance. The research is intended to help public and private decision makers in understanding the regional economy.

A new report by the U.S. Census Bureau on domestic migration from 2000 to 2004 shows that people have been leaving Ohio at a higher rate than in the 1990s. The state registered the fourth-highest net population loss in the period, an average of 31,613 residents per year. The Cleveland MSA lost an average of 12,306 people per year, with Cuyahoga County losing an average of 15,783 people per year. Experts attribute the decreases to national trends, the decline of manufacturing, and urban sprawl.

The National Solid Wastes Management Association is threatening a lawsuit if the Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Joint Solid Waste Management District passes a proposed rule that would restrict landfills in the district from receiving waste from other Ohio districts.

Leaders in Lyndhurst say the City will not join a joint recreation district because of opposition from older residents. Richmond Heights, South Euclid, and University Heights officials will continue to consider their options.

Taking a cue form other Cleveland groups, the nonprofit Euclid Development Corp. aims to strengthen Euclid's housing stock and real estate market by acquiring and renovating vacant properties and putting them back on the market.

Roldo Bartimole links the presence of the tax-exempt hospital giants to the high number of millionaires in Cuyahoga County, supporting the argument that these institutions should make greater contributions to the cities in which they operate.

In this week's Free Times, Lee Chilcote looks at the history of Dike 14 and the differing ideas for its future.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial offers conditional support for allowing Ohio counties, townships, and schools to institute impact fees, provided there is a cap on the total amount.

As part of their Progress Cleveland series, the Cleveland Professional Twenty-Thirty Club will present a panel discussion on regionalism with George Forbes, Norm Krumholtz, Tom Longo, and Elizabeth Stoops on April 24 at 6:00 p.m. in the Forum Conference Center. The moderator will be Sam Fulwood.

(via Economic Developments)

The Earth Day Coalition's Green Pages directory of environmental organizations is now available online.

(via GreenCityBlueLake)

Cuyahoga County Commissioners voted to redirect funding from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Convention Facilities Authority to the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland, reducing CFA funding from $25,000 per month to $8,000 per month until further notice.

Activist Ed Hauser is seeking a Cleveland Landmark designation for the 1894 Broadway Mills Building and nearby remnants of the old Central Viaduct, both in the path of a new Innerbelt bridge proposed by the Ohio Department of Transportation. At ODOT's request, the Landmarks Commission tabled Hauser's request last week, and is expected to discuss the issue on April 27. Hauser also charges that ODOT's development process is flawed, and that the department is not following procedural requirements.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial lauds the positive recreational and economic impacts of the Ohio & Erie Canalway, calling the results of the last ten years of work on the corridor "a not-so-small miracle".

On Monday, the Nordonia Hills Board of Education will vote on a compensation plan put forward by developers of a proposed soccer stadium and retail center on Route 8 in Northfield Center Township and Macedonia. The agreement calls for the district to receive $6.7 to $8.5 million for district athletic facilities, plus additional annual payments in lieu of taxes.

Gambling advocates may have difficulty getting a casino issue passed by voters if proponents are unable to consolidate three competing proposals.

Mayor Currin of Hudson has initiated a conversation with his counterparts in Twinsburg and Stow about property tax-sharing.

At yesterday's Cleveland Landmarks Commission meeting, plans were unveiled for Lighthouse Landing (formerly called Front Street Lofts), two condominium towers and a parking garage on the site of a parking lot east of Scott Wolstein's proposed Flats east bank development. Wolstein is opposed to the project, because his plans call for the parking to support his development.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Verespej of the CWRU Observer feels that the use of eminent domain may be necessary to resolve the Flats east bank property value controversy.

A 208,000 square foot Wal-Mart Supercenter will be built on 23 of the 43 acres in Meadowbrook Market Square at the southwest corner of Rockside and Northfield Roads in Bedford. Groundbreaking is expected in late summer or early fall.

(Update: the Plain Dealer provides more details.)

Neighbors of the proposed ten-house Oak Knoll (PDF) subdivision in Independence are opposed to the development. They cite worries about erosion, flooding, sewer capacity, and aesthetics, and would prefer to see the site become a park.

Owner James Sosan has proposed converting the closed 95 year-old Ohio City YMCA into 18 condominiums while preserving the gym and possibly the swimming pool for neighborhood use. He also wants to build seven townhouses on the parking lot across from the building on West 32nd Street.

On May 2, Brecksville voters will decide Issue 11, a proposal to rezone about 102 acres at the southwest corner of Parkview Drive and Hillsdale Road from office/laboratory to residential. Developer Dino Palmieri is proposing 76 homes with prices of at least $500,000 on half of the site. The other half would remain as greenspace.

Partners Advancing Community Excellence (PACE) hopes that the Lyndhurst City Council will allow residents to vote on the proposed joint recreation district rather than opting out of participation without a public vote. Regardless of Lyndhurst involvement, PACE intends to move forward in discussions with other communities.

Citing the need to remain competitive with neighboring communities, Broadview Heights City Council approved the creation of an incentive grant program to attract businesses to the city. The program is open to non-retail companies with a payroll of at least $4 million.

The Avon Citizens Committee 2006 is gathering opinions from residents about a possible charter amendment that would require referendum zoning for residential to commercial rezonings.

With a parking lot proposed for the site of the historic Hall House at Detroit and Andrews Avenues, planners in Lakewood continue to explore options for preserving and moving the house.

Two neighborhood hardware stores in the East 185th Street area are closing. The owners of Nottingham Hardware and Real Hardware, which have been open since 1927 and 1928 respectively, blame the "Home Depot syndrome".

Scott Muscatello summarizes the April 7 Cleveland Planning Commission meeting, at which, among other decisions, the Cozad-Bates House was designated as a Cleveland Landmark.

Reduced dredging activities and subsequent shallowing in many Great Lakes channels is a cause of concern for some shipping-related businesses. The Lake Carriers' Association says that shallower channel depths have resulted in the need to lighten cargo loads, harming regional economic productivity. They contend that inadequate funding to and improper distribution within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are largely to blame.

Leaders behind the latest ballot proposal on casino gambling have been unsuccessfully attempting to reach a compromise with proponents of a competing ballot issue. However, the recent rejection of all three ballot proposals by the Attorney General may provide an incentive for cooperation.

Hemisphere Development is mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article cited by Crain's Cleveland Business. The article reports on the increased interest in brownfield redevelopment and specifically focuses on Fairport Harbor's Lakeview Bluffs project.

A loan program designed by the Small Business Association will work to aid economic recovery in East Cleveland by helping 12 to 20 businesses in the city to start or expand operations. Most of the financing will be from bank loans guaranteed by the SBA. Monies will also be garnered from the county and city, with additional help from the Hebrew Free Loan Association.

In WCPN's Making Change series, David C. Barnett looks at living in downtown Cleveland and downtown housing growth. He also interviews housing expert Thomas Bier of Cleveland State.

With assistance from Cuyahoga County, Eli Mann and 3M Realty are discussing plans to redevelop a row of near-empty office buildings on Euclid Avenue that they purchased last year as 160 units of rental and for-sale housing with first floor retail.

The Countryside Program, which works with communities and property owners in rural and suburban Northeast Ohio to preserve the look and feel of rural and natural land has moved to the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.

Neighbors of a Gates Hills property owner are upset about the appearance and noise of a natural gas drilling rig set up in her front yard. Regulation of gas wells was transferred from local municipalities to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in accordance with a state law passed two years ago.

On Friday, April 21 at noon, Peter Garforth of Garforth International will speak at the City Club about sustainability in Northeast Ohio.

(via GreenCityBlueLake)

(Update: Chris Varley says the talk will be insightful and valuable.)

While developers of the Flats East Bank project continue their efforts to purchase property, eminent domain has oftentimes been used to develop the Flats. The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority may vote on Friday on whether to authorize financing for the project. Meanwhile, Roldo Bartimole responds to the Plain Dealer's editorial on the conflict between current property owners and the developer.

A third casino gambling plan has been submitted for the state ballot. The distinguishing characteristic of this plan is the inclusion of licensing fees to be paid by potential developers.

Yesterday, 24 speakers addressed the Ohio Eminent Domain Task Force and an audience of over 100 at a 3½ hour meeting in Lakewood. The Task Force will hold four more meetings at other locations across the state.

The Akron Beacon Journal maintains that "Ohioans deserve cleaner air", and that recent state legislation and proposed federal rule changes will result in weaker pollution standards.

The nonprofit NeighborWorks America will soon open an Ohio toll-free hotline staffed by counselors trained in foreclosure prevention. The number is 1-888-995-HOPE (4673).

A study performed by the Associated Press found that most major American cities have gained college educated people in the past thirty years, even while their overall populations have declined. While this influx may aid in revitalization efforts and the rise of the creative class, Cleveland's percentage of college graduates was third-lowest of the 21 cities studied.

Ed Morrison asserts that casinos generally do not work well as an economic development strategy for urban areas, and that "staking the future on gambling . . . will not generate the innovation economy Ohio needs."

Following the discovery that Michael Montgomery failed to disclose a previous arrest, Mayor Jackson decided not to hire him as Cleveland's chief of regional economic development.

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis asserts that tax-exempt local "hospital giants" place extra burdens on taxpayers and should therefore make monetary contributions to Cleveland's struggling economy and school system. This sentiment has been echoed in other cities on both a regional and a national scale.

University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic own and operate several parking garages which are among their tax-exempt properties. Critics contend that these money-making structures should be taxed, while the Clinic argues that if these structures simply contribute to its overall mission. The Cleveland Clinic is now battling the Cleveland School District over the assessed value for property the Clinic bought on East 93rd Street, where they plan to build another parking garage.

At a public forum last week, some Hudson residents and businesspeople voiced their opposition to plans to eliminate the City's part-time economic development position. A second public hearing will be held on April 19 at 7:30 p.m.

As part of the upcoming filming of Spider Man 3, the arts group Exhibit: Cleveland will clean and light additional vacant Euclid Avenue storefronts where they will display works by local artists.

House Bill 299, currently under debate in the Ohio House, would give counties, townships, and school districts the ability to "levy impact fees on new development to finance capital improvements necessitated by that development."

A draft document outlining rules for the Ohio Job Ready Sites (PDF) program would require sites of at least 150 acres to qualify for the funds, which would prevent heavily-developed Cuyahoga County from participating.

A group of University Circle residents called the Neighbor to Neighbor Association will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, April 18 at 6:00 p.m. in Mount Zion Congregational Church to discuss upcoming investments in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, developer Robert Stark's team has withdrawn from the competition to select a firm for the Arts and Retail District redevelopment, possibly because he envisioned a more ambitious plan for the site than the University desired.

In their annual foreclosure analysis, Policy Matters Ohio reports that foreclosure filings in Ohio increased 8.5% in 2005. The state already has the nation's highest foreclosure rate, and the figures mark another record high.

(via Brewed Fresh Daily)

Security concerns have led officials in Cleveland and other large cities to consider restrictions on railroad routes for trains carrying hazardous cargos. Railroad representatives are challenging similar rules enacted by Washington, D.C.

(via Urban Ohio)

The Flats Oxbow Association has voiced its opposition to CMHA developing the Columbus Road site of the Riverview HOPE VI project, citing a conflict between trucks that use the road to move from the Flats to the I-90 and increased traffic that would come from the development.

Yesterday, University Hospitals announced that they will donate the 1853 Cozad-Bates House to University Circle Incorporated. The Cleveland Planning Commission was scheduled to discuss a Cleveland Landmark designation for the house this morning, and preservationists hope it will become a museum or education center.

Frustrated by the lack of maintenance on foreclosed homes, Cleveland Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka ordered the arrest of KeyBank executives last month, but later relented. The bank eventually agreed to surrender responsibility for a vacant house on East 171st Street to the Collinwood & Nottingham Villages Development Corp.

In addition to their planned University Circle expansion, University Hospitals is reportedly considering the construction of a six story, 200 bed facility on Solon Road in Solon.

After two unsuccessful appeals, the City of Maple will pay $60,000 to owners of a house that the City declared a nuisance and tore down in 2001 without sufficient notification.

The City of North Royalton will hold four public meetings to discuss downtown transportation patterns as a part of the City's Transportation & Pedestrian Linkages Study. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. in the Mayor's Courtroom at the police station.

Cuyahoga County Commissioners ordered the cleanup of a drainage ditch in the Woodgate subdivision in Olmsted Township. The developer will pay for the initial cleanup, and homeowners will be assessed for others in future.

The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority will sell 2.7 acres it owns near Woodland Avenue and East 55th Street to developers planning a shopping center for the vacant site.

After completing the restoration of the bell tower on the 165-year-old Barton Road Congregational Church in February, the Olmsted Historical Society is now focusing its efforts on the outside of the church. The society is also working on two Lorain Road buildings at the site of the new Fire Station No. 2, and a one-room school house at the corner of Lorain and Burton Roads.

The City of Rocky River has hired the URS Corporation to perform a soil study along Riverdale Drive in the Yacht Club Basin to determine the soil type along the Drive and the rate of slope movement. Once results are in, the city will decide whether to go forward with an improvement project that includes the elimination of a hairpin turn and the addition of a sidewalk along the road.

Demolition of the Jaite Mill has begun and will continue for the next three months. This project represents the initial step in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park's plans to restore the site to a river bottom forest.

North Olmsted City Council unanimously voted to reject Shadow Woods, a 52 unit cluster home development proposed for a site on Bradley Road. The area is zoned light industrial, but the City's master plan calls for future residential development. City Council will continue to study the issue.

In response to negative feedback from community members regarding the joint recreation district, Mayor Joseph Cicero asserts that Lyndhurst City Council can either place the issue on the ballot for voters to decide, or completely pull out of the process. However, several council members and citizens' group Partners Advancing Community Excellence feel that the proposal deserves to be put on the ballot.

The City of Seven Hills will hold public meetings to discuss the proposed mixed-use Rockside Terrace development next Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room at City Hall.

Cleveland Construction, Inc. is appealing the court decision that awarded the former Cornerstone development to the McGill Property Group, saying their bid was higher than the one that was accepted.

National CommonLife Communities continues to plan a senior housing development behind Ridge Park Square in Brooklyn. They hope to begin construction in May.

Today's 90.3 at 9 on WCPN discussed the recent air pollution legislation passed by the Ohio legislature with guests Matt Carroll of the Cleveland Department of Public Health, Jack Shaner of the Ohio Environmental Council, and attorney Rob Brubaker.

Yesterday, bipartisan bills were introduced in the U.S. Senate and House that would authorize up to $23.5 billion to implement the recommendations of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration. The bills, called the Great Lakes Environmental Restoration Act in the Senate and the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Implementation Act in the House, may face difficulties in the Republican-controlled Congress.

The 10th anniversary of the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway was celebrated yesterday at a symposium where a visitors guide, signage system, and a new website for the Ohio & Erie Canal Association were unveiled.

Bill Callahan examines how an energy efficiency program instituted throughout Cleveland can result in energy savings roughly equivalent to building a 60 megawatt power plant.

Roldo Bartimole comments on the City of Cleveland's use of tax abatements and the shifting of funds from the Convention Facilities Authority.

Today's Plain Dealer Community News Briefs include a report that the developer of Lorain County's Cleveland Quarries project is close to purchasing 900 acres for the development, and that a ruling by a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge that the Maple Heights Board of Zoning Appeals did not take into consideration traffic increases that would result from the building of a Dollar General store on Granger Road.

(Update: this week's Garfield-Maple Sun provides more information about the dollar store ruling.)

The possibility of replacing Little Italy's Mayfield Theater with a parking deck illustrates concerns in the neighborhood about its new master plan.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering changing how it enforces its air toxics program that would result in companies being able to increase emissions of pollutants that cause cancer and birth defects.

A Plain Dealer editorial vehemently chastizes property owners that are attempting to get higher purchase offers from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority in anticipation of the Flats East Bank project.

Case Western Reserve University has chosen three potential developers for its proposed University Circle Arts and Retail District at Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road.

Mayfield Village has developed a draft agreement with Progressive Corp. where the insurance company would expand its headquarters in exchange for "tax incentive grants" worth up to 50 percent of payroll taxes generated by the development.

The Housing First Initiative's partners are seeking funding for on-site services to those transitioning out of homelessness and living in subsidized housing such as Emerald Commons.

A pro-development nonprofit citizens group in Hudson is protesting the City's plan to eliminate its economic development director position.

Governor Taft signed a $1 million bill to pay for drilling a test well that would determine whether Ohio geography is suitable for injecting carbon dioxide emissions from the FutureGen prototype coal-gasification power plant that the state is pursuing.

Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer describes what is at stake for University Circle concerning the choice of architect and design by the Museum of Contemporary Art for its new building in the Arts and Retail district.

The threatened Toxic Release Inventory shows that in 2004, the total amount of toxic discharges released in Ohio declined. The Ohio EPA report lists the largest pollutant discharges by chemical and facility for each county, including those in Northeast Ohio.

Last week, the Cleveland Green Building Coalition began publishing a new weblog which will serve as a "collection of news, articles, audio, info and events about green building in the greater Cleveland area and beyond."

(via Brewed Fresh Daily)

While affordable housing advocates were pleased with predatory lending legislation passed by the Ohio Senate in February, they do not like the version passed by the Ohio House last week.

(Update: The Plain Dealer provides additional coverage.)

The Ohio Eminent Domain Task Force released its preliminary recommendations in its first report (PDF, 3.4 MB). The Task Force will hold its next meeting in Lakewood on April 10 at 3:00 p.m at the Lakewood Park Women's Pavilion.

(via the OPC Listserv)

(Update: Thomas Ott of the Plain Dealer covers the story.)

Environmentalists and business interests continue to spar over the Ohio pollution legislation that opponents have nicknamed the "bad air bill".

On May 2, Boston Township residents will vote on a proposal to establish a joint economic development district with adjacent Cuyahoga Falls.

Thomas Bier of Cleveland State writes about Greater Cleveland's housing surplus and the resulting abandonment caused by continued construction. He calls for a cooperative, regional approach to aid in the renewal of older neighborhoods.

The Akron Beacon Journal profiles new Team NEO CEO Thomas Waltermire.

The Finch Group of Boca Raton, owner of the Park Lane Villa Apartments in University Circle, is converting the building into luxury apartments in a $28.5 million historic renovation.

A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge ruled that a concrete crushing plant operating at East 40th Street near the Northern Ohio Food Terminal is a nuisance and must close, concluding a three year legal battle.

In higher education news, the Plain Dealer reports that Ursuline College will begin offering a master of arts in historic preservation, the first such program in the state. Also, the Kusch, Glaser, and Michelson Houses in Case's South Quad will be renovated in place of planned demolitions.

In response to pressure from residents, Lyndhurst Mayor Joseph Cicero wants voter approval before moving forward with plans for a joint recreation district and recreation center.

As the result of state legislation passed last year, tighter new rules governing construction and debris landfills will go into effect by mid-June.

The April issue of Inside Business includes an overview of University Circle developments with Chris Ronayne of University Circle Incorporated, the thoughts of Dennis Roche of the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland on downtown projects, ideas about alternative energy sources from Ronn Richard of the Cleveland Foundation, plus a look at regional government issues.

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