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April 2007 Archives

The Plain Dealer re-launched its "A Region Divided" series as "A Region Uniting?" and plans to pose many questions about regionalism in Greater Cleveland. Editor Doug Clifton says he hopes the series will "advance the discussion and rekindle citizen and official interest in tackling the problems of parochialism that so often stifle our loftiest ambitions." The launch was accompanied by a recap of the previous series, a look at the likelihood of some ideas and the economic impacts of demographic trends, and interactive maps showing Ohio migration and the destinations of former Greater Clevelanders.

Demolition teams were only able to implode two of the six arches of the Fulton Road Bridge on Saturday. It took three attempts to implode the sections of the 75 year old Cleveland bridge. Workers blamed a faulty charge line, and ODOT is working to schedule a time when the implosion can be completed. presents video, a time-lapse animation, and a photo gallery. Channel 3 and Channel 5 also covered the event.

(Update: the incomplete implosion will not cost taxpayers additional money. Crews will attempt to bring down the rest of the bridge at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday)

Flats east bank developer Scott Wolstein has "a chance for something special", says Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt. Wolstein revealed that he is considering five elite out-of-town architecture firms, as well as two local firms. He also indicated that he wants the development to have a contemporary design, and not a nostalgic style reminiscent of the nearby Warehouse District.

The Akron Beacon Journal profiles the accomplishments, tools, and plans of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. Between 2000 and 2005 the amount of land in Ohio preserved by land trusts grew from 20,265 acres to 50,700 acres.

Cuyahoga County Probate Judge John Donnelly ruled against a group of Cedar Center tenants who sought to keep the City of South Euclid from acquiring the northern half of the shopping center. The City will purchase the property for $16.4 million and select one of the four developers interested in redeveloping it as a mixed-use project.

A Plain Dealer editorial praises the efforts of suburban Cuyahoga County mayors to promote regionalism, concluding, "We enthusiastically support the leaders who are trying to widen the scope of regionalism here. When communities in Northeast Ohio stop wasting resources on redundant systems and structures, all taxpayers will benefit."

The Tri-City Senior Center continues to experience financial difficulties, and is seeking $60,000 from the cities of Berea, Brook Park, and Middleburg Heights. The Center's proposed joint taxing district issue is now slated for the November ballot.

A federal appeals court rejected Advanced Hydrosolutions' suit to gain access to Gorge Metro Park, overturning a lower court and indicating that the case belongs in state court. The company is seeking access to the park to conduct environmental tests for a proposed Gorge Park Dam hydroelectric project, which is opposed by the Metro Parks, Serving Summit County.

In a Plain Dealer editorial, Parma Heights Mayor Martin Zanotti promotes the proposed seven-city fire district that is under study in southwest Cuyahoga County, saying, "The cost of government has become an albatross around the neck of our region." Editor Gloria Millner interviewed him about the proposal.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the newly-designated Cleveland Art Quarter is "a great idea that could have a big economic impact, especially on tourism and redevelopment."

The Village of Chagrin falls has received three proposals for the redevelopment of city-owned land along West Orange Street. Two are resubmissions of previous proposals, and a third calls for the construction of two four-unit townhouses.

Some North Royalton City Council members worry that the North Royalton Greenways Plan might lower property values in the City.

Frances Whitehead and Lisa Norton have proposed the idea of the "superorg" as a model for integrating the artist's perspective, ecological design, and industrual regeneration in the public planning of the Towpath Trail Extension. Their work is being shown at SPACES gallery as part of the Shrinking Cities exhibition.

The City of Brecksville hired Wade Trim to conduct to assess the middle branch of Chippewa Creek. The study will examine the overall condition of the riparian area and provide suggestions for addressing the stability of the banks and channel.

Cathedral Worship Center, currently in Wickliffe, wants to build a 37,000 square foot facility at the former Sims Buick property on Euclid Avenue in Euclid. The proposal requires City Council approval.

The Shaker Heights Neighborhood Revitalization Committee declared 44 properties as public nuisances. If the owners do not address the identified problems, the City will make repairs through its nuisance abatement program.

The US EPA proposed a new rule that would make easier for utilities to it make changes to power plants without installing new pollution controls. Critics say that the agency is ignoring the recent Supreme Court ruling on greenhouse gas emissions. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson refused to say how soon the agency will comply with the ruling.

Real estate investor Sako Satka is close to completing a renovation of the historic Faerber/Morse House on Lake Avenue in Lakewood. An attempt by the home's previous owner to dismantle and auction its architectural details promted Lakewood officials to establish a waiting period for demolitions and to consider creating a landmark designation program.

The Cleveland Division of Air Quality launched the Citizens Air Monitoring Program, a new initiative that will supply vacuum canisters to residents so they can collect air samples.

Scene editor Pete Kotz chastises Sam Miller for advocating regionalism while operating as "an insider who's always plucked for himself."

Yesterday, Charter One Bank announced that it was adding new programs to its UPtown Initiative. The effort was launched last spring, and is aimed at investing $150 million in University Circle and its surrounding neighborhoods over a three year period.

The Plain Dealer provides a summary of the senior housing debate in Solon. Solon Taxpayers Against Rezoning, opponents of the proposed development, offer their perspective at their website.

(Update: a debate on the proposal was held on Monday.)

The Cuyahoga County Department of Development will hold a free training session on the Ohio Historic Tax Credit program on May 8 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Tri-C's Corporate College East. The seminar is free, but registration (PDF) is required.

A group of nine suburban mayors from across Cuyahoga County agreed to support a regionalism effort. The plans have not been drafted, but will not call for municipal consolidation, and will recommend the formation of new countywide economic development agency.

In the latest installment of their Making Change series, WCPN reports on an eminent domain forum held yesterday at CSU, which featured keynote speaker Jeff Finkle of the International Economic Development Council.

On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved conceptual designs for the new Cuyahoga County juvenile justice center planned for East 93rd Street and Quincy Avenue in Fairfax. The 581,000 square foot facility is now scheduled to open in 2009.

The Plain Dealer reminds readers that Burke Lakefront Airport is built upon landfill and dredge material, and would require extensive remediation and stabilization in order to be redeveloped. Meanwhile, some suggest that instead of closing Burke, the Cuyahoga County Airport should be closed and its traffic shifted to Burke.

Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt offers some suggestions for addressing the controversies raised by ODOT's $1.5 billion plans for the reconstruction of Cleveland's Innerbelt. He notes that while the window for making dramatic revisions is brief, there is still time to reexamine maintaining traffic at ramps that ODOT proposes closing, to reanalyze the southern bridge alignment, and to consider capping large sections of the trench.

The partially demolished Fulton Road Bridge in Cleveland will be imploded on Saturday at 8:00 a.m. Spectators can watch the blast from Cleveland Metroparks Brookside Reservation football field. The $46.4 million replacement bridge is scheduled to be completed in late 2009.

Mayor Currin of Hudson, chair of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and Managers Association, says that the eminent domain restrictions under discussion in the Ohio Legislature would impede economic development.

Officials at the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority think that the rapid growth in international container cargo traffic may outstrip the capacity of ports on the East and West coasts. One of the reasons the Port Authority's relocation study was delayed was to obtain expert opinion on Cleveland's prospects for increased trade.

In a Plain Dealer editorial, Christopher Knopf of the Trust for Public Land explains the organization's vision for Cleveland, which includes improving public access to Lake Erie. He states that Northeast Ohio's natural spaces are a vital part of the region's quality of life, which in turn is a major factor in business location decisions.

The latest models from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory indicate that Ohio's winds can support commercial turbines that could meet a large portion of the state's electricity needs. Research on Great Lakes wind potential is due out in about six months. Environment Ohio has more details.

GreenCityBlueLake recaps one of the community workshops led by the Project for Public Spaces earlier this week on plans for the redesigned and relocated East 120th rapid station in Little Italy.

Cleveland Clinic representatives cautioned that their plans to build a medical campus in Twinsburg have not been finalized.

The West Creek Preservation Committee and the City of Parma received a $15,000 grant from the Ohio Historical Society for the continued restoration of the historic Henninger House on Broadview Road.

Construction of Fairview Park's Gemini Project is on time and under budget, and both the new Gilles-Sweet school and the new recreation center should be completed this year.

Middleburg Heights City Council adopted a green building policy that includes a strategy for encouraging developers to incorporate high performance building techniques.

Some Independence residents are unhappy about the recently-introduced senior housing legislation, because it would bypass the requirement for voter approval by not including provisions for multi-family housing.

Broadview Heights City Council hired a company to design two stormwater projects and study another. The work should be completed by July 1, and City Council hopes to have a funding mechanism in place by then.

Officials in Beford Heights are considering rezoning a property on Columbus Road near Holy Trinity Church for use as senior housing, but it appears that the process will not be completed soon.

An owner of Ameri-Con Homes agreed to remove construction debris and erect a fence around unfinished foundations at the Valley Ranch subdivision in Garfield Heights. A formal sentencing in the case is scheduled for May 15.

Although demolition work continues, construction of the Bridgeview Crossing shopping center in Garfield Heights remains halted while a stormwater management plan is reviewed. Developer Snider-Cannata Interests submitted a plan on April 6.

Preservation Ohio released their 2007 List of Ohio's Most Endangered Historic Sites. The only Northeast Ohio structure on the list is the Cleveland Trust Tower, which the Cuyahoga County Commissioners recently voted to demolish.

Cleveland City Council is expected to disregard Frank Jackson's proposal to scale back the City's residential tax abatement program and extend the current policy of awarding 15 year abatements. Mayor Jackson has not indicated if he would veto the measure.

(Update: Channel 3's Tom Beres interviews Frank Jackson.)

The City of Cleveland is using a $6 million bond to fund the demolition of abandoned houses. Over 150 have been demolished this year, and Mayor Jackson plans to demolish 700 dangerous properties this year.

Adam Harvey posted images of a booklet that was published by the Cleveland Landmarks Commission in 1977 on the architecture of East Tremont.

(via Tremonter)

The West Creek Preservation Committee will host a series of public meetings about the planned West Creek Greenway, which would link the West Creek Reservation to the Towpath Trail. The first meeting will be held on April 25 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Brooklyn Heights Community Center.

Political science students at Baldwin-Wallace College polled 417 Cuyahoga County residents about the future of Burke Lakefront Airport. The results show that a consensus on the best use of the site has not emerged, but a majority want increased public access to Lake Erie, regardless of whether the airport remains.

Roldo Bartimole reacts to the recent Plain Dealer editorial about Mayor Jackson's residential tax abatement proposal, calling the piece "simplistic and disingenuous."

As part of the Ideas for Tomorrow series, Peter B. Lewis and Frank Gehry will speak at the Cleveland Clinic on April 25 at 5:30 p.m. The event is free, but registration is required.

An area that covers parts of four neighborhoods on Cleveland's near east side has been named the Cleveland Art Quarter, or The Quarter for short, because the live-work district is home to many artists and their studios.

Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt is not impressed by the designs of three new buildings planned by University Hospitals for their University Circle campus. Conceptual plans for the three buildings were recently approved by the Cleveland City Planning Commission. The new buildings are part of UH's Vision 2010 plan.

Christian Menn, the famed Swiss bridge designer hired by ODOT and Michael Baker Corporation in 2005 to consult on the plans for a new Innerbelt Bridge, complained that his input was ignored. He said that the selected design is unattractive and more expensive than necessary, and that he wants nothing more to do with the project.

A Plain Dealer editorial backs the Cleveland City Planning Commission's decision on the plans for the western end of the West Shoreway redesign. "The planning commission - which is supposed to consider what is right for the entire city, not a sliver of it - was right to endorse the original vision."

The Creativity Exchange analyzed the latest US metropolitan area population estimates and prepared graphs that show the cities with the greatest population losses, including Cleveland.

Boston Heights Village Council approved a controversial rezoning of the former Boston Hills County Club, rezoning almost 66 acres from residential to retail. Developers want to build a shopping center on the rezoned portion of the site and 100 houses on the remaining area. Residents opposed to the development plan to fight the rezoning.

Governing Executive Editor Alan Ehrenhalt was "surprisingly optimistic" in his talk at Cleveland State yesterday about the future of downtowns. "The single most important development in American cities in the last five years is downtown living."

A new report from U.S. PIRG says that Ohio had the fourth-highest level of carbon dioxide emissions in the nation, and the third-highest for those produced by coal-fired power plants. Ohio's emissions grew from 244.9 million metric tons in 1990 to 261.8 million metric tons in 2004, a 7% increase.

The Flats east bank eminent domain trial is scheduled to begin on May 7. It's expected to last at least two weeks.

North Royalton leaders are preparing a tax increment financing package that will be used to support the planned Town Center District development. Mayor Luks and other officials will also attend the annual ICSC convention in Las Vegas next month to court prospective retailers.

Supporters of the two options for redesigning the western end of the West Shoreway in Cleveland continue to disagree about the plans. Councilman Jay Westbrook described the situation as a standoff, and ODOT does not intend to reconvene its Lakefront West Subcommittee until City officials obtain consensus.

In the first of a two part series, the Solon Herald Sun summarizes the senior housing controversy in Solon and explains the views of the proposed development's supporters.

The Broadview Heights City Council Stormwater Committee met for the first time last week. They hope to craft a plan for funding stormwater improvements in the City that does not involve the previously rejected assessments.

Middleburg Heights officials are reviewing the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement presented by the City of Cleveland, but are apprehensive about adopting it.

A City Council committee in Berea recommended building a new courthouse for the Berea Municipal Court on the site of the former Serpentini Chevrolet lot on Front Street.

Bay Village City Council and the Cahoon Park Trustees will decide whether to repair or demolish the decaying concrete trusses in the park. Estimates place the cost of repairing the historic interurban trusses at $84,000, while removing them would cost $52,000.

The Cleveland Clinic plans to build medical campus on Darrow Road in Twinsburg, starting with a a 75,000 square foot hospital to be completed in 2008 or 2009. University Hospitals is also building a medical center in the City.

(Update: The Plain Dealer has additional details.)

Alternative expansion plans for the expansion of Cuyahoga County Airport are under consideration after the Cuyahoga and Lake County Commissioners rejected the initial option of expanding into Willoughby Hills.

Foreclosure crisis roundup:

The US EPA finalized their Clean Air Fine Particle Implementation Rule on March 29. Most counties in Greater Cleveland were designated as nonattainment areas.

Heritage Ohio is accepting nominations for their Top Preservation Opportunities List (PDF), which will include "properties that have not yet been preserved—historic and architecturally-significant structures that have a good chance for survival and reuse." The submission deadline is May 6.

Akron Beacon Journal editorial writer Steve Hoffman is encouraged by the efforts of the Northeast Ohio Sourcing Office to promote intergovernmental cooperation, and hopes its success will lead to a reduction of redundant municipal services.

Frank Jackson yesterday proposed scaling back Cleveland's residential tax abatement program. Tax abatements on new construction would be reduced from 15 to seven years, but houses that incorporate green building techniques or elder-friendly designs would be eligible for 12 year abatements. He also wants to extend tax abatements for rehabilitated homes from 10 to 12 years. Some City Council members are skeptical about making changes to the program, and developers oppose the proposed reduction.

(Update: a Plain Dealer editorial urges City Council to reject the proposal.)

Earlier this year, Ohio Representative Larry Wolpert introduced House Bill 69, which would permit counties and townships to establish transfer of development rights programs. The Ohio Home Builders Association is opposed to the legislation.

Sun News columnist Joe Yachanin agrees with Miller's Sam Miller's call for a unified Cuyahoga County government. Roldo Bartimole takes the opposite view and also criticizes the Plain Dealer editorial board for its stand on the Cleveland Trust Tower.

Last week, the 121-year-old street clock at 1112 Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland was removed and shipped to Fredericktown, Ohio after it was donated to the Fredericktown Historical Society. They plan to restore and install the clock for the Knox County village's 200th anniversary.

The Cleveland Metroparks acquired 33 acres of forest in Mayfield Village for $2.1 million. The property will be added to the North Chagrin Reservation and includes the headwaters of Foster's Run and Beecher's Brook, tributaries of the Chagrin River. The purchase was aided by $1.4 million from the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program.

The Ohio Historic Preservation Office completed its review of five structures (PDF) listed for demolition by ODOT for the Innerbelt reconstruction project, and found that four of them are eligible for inclusion in the National Register for Historic Places.

The owner of a strip of land needed for the Towpath Trail near the border of Akron and Coventry Township is preventing the trail's construction by demanding $80,000 for the land, which was appraised at $26,000.

A Plain Dealer editorial supports Cleveland State University's plans for a new arts complex on Euclid Avenue and says that "school officials are going about it the right way."

The international Shrinking Cities program will come to Cleveland beginning on April 20, when their exhibition opens at SPACES Gallery and at the Cleveland Urban Design Center. Nicole Minten-Jung, Shrinking Cities Assistant Curator, will speak at the UDC before the gallery opening on the 20th, and a symposium will be held on May 11 at Josaphat Arts Hall. Additional events and lectures are planned. It will run through June 8.

Metropolitan area population estimates released yesterday by the US Census Bureau show that the fastest-growing areas of the nation continue to be the South and the West, and that immigration is keeping many areas from shrinking. They say that the estimated population of the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor MSA fell from 2,148,010 in 2005 to 2,114,155 in 2006, a loss of 1.6%.

(via The Creativity Exchange and Crain's Cleveland Business)

Cleveland Ward 14 Councilman Joe Santiago recently pledged $60,000 from his ward allocation to the Clark Metro Development Corporation. Without the funds, the organization would have run out of money in June.

Cleveland City Council's Public Utilities Committee approved Mayor Jackson's proposal to seek bids to provide free citywide wireless Internet access. City Council is expected to consider the measure later this month.

The City of Strongsville received a $100,000 grant from the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission for the restoration of Old Town Hall on Route 82. Restoration of the historic building is expected to cost in excess of $400,000.

Strongsville officials approved expansion plans for the Wal-Mart on Pearl Road, and a groundbreaking is expected within weeks. A 60,000 square foot addition will constructed for the existing 125,000 square foot store, which will be converted to a supercenter. They hope to complete construction by late summer.

The Dalad Group and Richard E. Jacobs Group want to develop the 64 acre Crow property on Miller Road between I-77 and Brecksville Road in Brecksville. They would like to build 400,000 square feet of upscale retail on the site and a gated residential community at its north end. Their plans also call for developing part of the neighboring VA property that was recently obtained by the City.

Developers of the proposed senior housing development in Solon may debate opponents of the project on the City's cable television channel, but some City Council members are uncertain if it would be an appropriate use of the channel.

The Paper Mill Vision Committee in Chagrin Falls supports the adaptive reuse of the former Ivex Paper Mill on Cleveland Street, and submitted four recommendations to Mayor Brick. They also suggested lowering the dam to reduce liability and remove it from ODNR's jurisdiction. The Trust for Public Land is also interested in preserving greenspace at the site.

The Cleveland Clinic's purchase of office space on Science Park Drive in Beachwood may lead to another dispute with the Beachwood City Schools over whether the properties are exempt from property taxes.

The Towpath Trail Partnership Committee, a group of eight nonprofit organizations and government agencies, will host a public meeting about the proposed extension of the Towpath Trail from Harvard Road to Steelyard Commons. It will be held on April 17, from 4:00 to 8:00 at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

The second edition of the Ohio Coastal Atlas is now available online. Prepared by the ODNR Office of Coastal Management, it's intended to provide decision makers in northern Ohio with a complete picture of Ohio's coastal resources. The 2005 first edition is also online.

The proposed downtown Cleveland medical mart would require both public and private funding. Estimates place the cost at around $350 million, and Merchandise Mart Properties says it could generate nearly $331 million annually in direct spending. The project remains tied to the proposal for a new convention center.

A panel of scientists said that by the end of the century, the Great Lakes region will have a significantly different climate because of global warming. They predicted that Ohio's climate will be much like that of present-day Tennessee or eastern Texas.

WKYC's Tom Beres interviewed Sam Miller about his push for a Cuyahoga County unified government, and Cool Cleveland's Thomas Mulready interviewed Brad Whitehead of the Fund for Our Economic Future on the launch of Advance Northeast Ohio: QuickTime (5.4 MB), Windows Media (8.5 MB).

In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act gives the US EPA the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. The ruling in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency means that the EPA must regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gasses unless it provides a scientific basis for its refusal. President Bush said he did not plan to impose caps on emissions.

The Supreme Court also unanimously supported a case against Duke Energy and upheld regulations that require the installation of pollution control technology on older coal-fired power plants.

Cleveland State University unveiled plans for a $50 million arts building on Euclid Avenue next to the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Conceptual plans prepared by Westlake Reed Leskosky include an eight story tower and three theaters. Construction could begin as early as 2010, and the University is seeking private donations to fund its construction. Additional renderings of the conceptual plan are available at Cleveland vs. The World.

The Cleveland and Gund Foundations jointly announced that they will only award capital grants to building and renovation projects that employ green building techniques.

This morning on WCPN's Sound of Ideas program, architect Robert P. Madison, incoming CUDC Director Christopher Diehl, and Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt discussed the fate of the Cleveland Trust Tower. A Plain Dealer editorial says the Cuyahoga County Commissioners "made the right choice" in voting to demolish the downtown skyscraper.

Yesterday, Mayor Jackson named Chris Warren, former director of Cleveland's economic development and community development departments, as the City's Chief of Regional Development. He will begin work in June.

This morning's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of the new Advance Northeast Ohio action plan. The guests were Brad Whitehead of the Fund for Our Economic Future, Tom Waltermire of Team NEO, and Andrew Jackson of the Greater Cleveland Commission on Economic Inclusion.

Of the two alternatives for the western end of the West Shoreway redesign, the Cleveland City Planning Commission endorsed the plan that was not the preferred option of neighborhood stakeholders. The alternative adopted by the Planning Commission includes fewer ramps and provides more greenspace for enlarging Edgewater Park.

A Plain Dealer editorial backs Sam Miller's call for regional government in Cuyahoga County.

(Update: Sam Fulwood says that the proposal could eliminate waste caused by the duplication of municipal services, while Roldo Bartimole thinks it's a ploy to get public funding for a new downtown convention center.)

The Cleveland City Planning Commission approved Cuyahoga County's request to tear down the Huron and Prospect Buildings and three pedestrian bridges at Prospect Avenue and East 9th Street, but did not vote on the proposed demolition of the adjacent Cleveland Trust Tower.

Minnesota remains the only state that has ratified the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, and it faces obstacles in several states, including Ohio. There is no deadline, and supporters are confident that it will be endorsed by the state legislatures.

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