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August 2009 Archives

Ohio Secretary of State and U.S. Senate candidate Jennifer Brunner spoke at the City Club today. She said that (MP3, 52.1 MB) she would make rejuvenating the state's cities a priority if elected to the Senate.

Last week, North Olmsted City Council's Building, Zoning & Development Committee approved the proposed renovations of Great Northern Mall.

URS Corp. prepared a feasibility study for the proposed Avon-Juniper Multipurpose Trail in southern Parma. It identified several possible routes for a trail that would connect the Big Creek Reservation with the West Creek Reservation. However, many residents object to the concepts because of worries about privacy and crime.

Marc Lefkowitz continued his analysis of Living Cities' involvement in Cleveland and attempted to assess its impacts over the last eight months. He found that "it's impressive by Cleveland standards, but whether Living Cities can pull off broad transformative change in the way we understand community development to work is still far from clear."

Cuyahoga County received six proposals for relocating its offices. The potential move is a fallback plan, in the event that negotiations for the preferred site for the Medical Mart fall through.

The Ohio Department of Transportation's Transportation Review Advisory Council authorized an additional $10 million in funding for preliminary planning of the proposed Opportunity Corridor in Cleveland.

The 2009 APA Ohio Statewide Planning Conference will be held from September 23 to 25 at the Sheraton Suites in Cuyahoga Falls. The Cleveland Section's 21st annual Planning and Zoning Workshop will take place on November 13 at LaCentre in Westlake.

Stakeholders from the recent Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit have been meeting in small groups, both in person and online, to refine the ideas generated at the event. They will compile the recommendations in a written report later this year.

University of Toledo professor Ken Kilbert disagrees with the recent shoreline ruling by the Ohio 11th District Court of Appeals, while a lakefront property owner supports the decision.

Shaker Heights and John Carroll University leaders are working to resolve their differences about student housing in university-owned apartments.

The City of Solon is conducting tests of its stormwater infrastructure in residential areas. Officials expect that implementing the City's stormwater management plan will take a minimum of 10 years.

RTA held a groundbreaking ceremony today for the new East 55th Street rapid transit station. The $8.5 million project is scheduled for completion in fall 2011.

A Cleveland Public Power delegation is visiting Japan and China to investigate solid waste to energy conversion facilities. It is part of their efforts to establish a waste-to-energy plant at the Ridge Road Transfer Station.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial is cautiously optimistic about the concept.

If they receive a Clean Ohio conservation fund grant, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy will purchase and preserve 10 acres along the Chagrin River from the developers of the Spillway project. It would eventually be used the expand the Village of Chagrin Falls' Whitesburg Park.

Update: the Chagrin Valley Times offers more details.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission is conducting an online survey of potential users of the proposed 3-C Corridor passenger rail line. The ORDC will also hold a public meeting on September 16 at the Cleveland Airport Holiday Inn.

(via Greater Ohio)

The Ohio 11th District Court of Appeals yesterday upheld a 2007 lower court decision, and ruled that private property lines along Lake Erie extend to the water's edge, shifting as the water level changes. The ruling (PDF) pleased property owners and disappointed environmentalists, who are expected to file an appeal.

Work is scheduled to begin this week on new Cleveland State University dormitories at Euclid Avenue and East 24th Street. The first phase (PDF) consists of three four-story buildings with room for 380 students, plus a 300-space parking garage. They should be completed by fall 2010. The $65 million project will eventually include five residence halls.

Last week, National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schweiger spoke at the Akron Roundtable about the consequences of global warming, and noted that its impacts are being felt around the world and in Ohio. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that "the challenge now involves the country and the international community acting quickly enough to avoid far more drastic consequences." Today, the National Wildlife Federation released a report titled More Extreme Heat Waves: Global Warming's Wake Up Call. It details the predicted human health impacts of global warming-induced heat waves.

Meanwhile, some climate scientists attribute shifts in Ohio rainfall patterns to climate change. Northeast Ohio has experienced an increase in the number of days per year with heavy storms. A report released by the the Union of Concerned Scientists last month presented scenarios about the future impacts of climate change in the Midwest.

Freshwater mussels were recently found in the lower Cuyahoga River, just upstream from the Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant in Cuyahoga Heights. Because mussels are sensitive to pollution, their presence is seen as a sign of the river's continued environmental recovery.

At Good, Anne Trubek of Oberlin College contemplates growth in the Rust Belt and the emerging ideas for "neighborhoods that no longer need to fulfill their original purposes."

The Ohio EPA is considering a proposal to address erosion issues at Lakewood Park by rehabilitating a retaining wall and expanding the breakwater.

On Thursday, Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority CEO Adam Wasserman and architect Stanton Eckstut described the downtown Cleveland port redevelopment plan at the City Club (MP3, 55.8 MB). On Friday, they presented the plan to the Cleveland City Planning Commission, where members had many questions about the concept. Adam Wasserman and the Port's Luke Frazier outlined the plan on Channel 3. Also on Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave its tentative approval to the Port's relocation plan, issuing a 241-page draft of its Cleveland Harbor Dredged Material Management Plan & Environmental Impact Statement (PDF, 8.4 MB). A Plain Dealer editorial says that the relocation and redevelopment plans need "a good deal more attention to detail". The Port Authority is preparing My Cleveland Waterfront, a website about the plans.

Update: Port Authority Chairman Steven Williams disputed several items in a Plain Dealer story.

Participants in the recent Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit continue to share ideas and reactions about the event. Marianne Eppig, Wendy Feinn, Gregg LaBar, Marc Lefkowitz, and Mike McNutt provide more perspectives. The summit was also briefly discussed on The Sound of Ideas on Thursday. In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Mayor Jackson said that "now is the time to take action" to make Cleveland the first city to attain sustainability.

The cool and wet weather this summer has contributed to an improvement in Northeast Ohio's air quality. Ozone and particulate pollution levels have been lower this summer.

The Solon Planning Commission approved a new zoning classification. The C3-A classification could be used for the proposed new Giant Eagle supermarket and Get-Go gas station at Solar Shopping Center.

In spite of cutbacks and fare increases this year, RTA faces a possible $20 million deficit for 2010, which could force additional cuts in service. Transportation for America compiled the financial problems of public transit agencies across the country in a new report titled Stranded at the Station.

Update: RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese met with Cleveland City Council on Wednesday.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Dominic LoGalbo asserts that Cleveland has a legacy of failed planning initiatives due to a lack of effective leadership.

Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority representatives will present their latest port redevelopment plans to the Cleveland City Planning Commission on Friday. The plan (PDF, 1.6 MB) and presentation (PDF, 15.8 MB) are available for review.

NOACA has begun uploading videos of speakers at its annual summit to YouTube. Available so far are videos of Senator Voinovich and Mayor Hruby of Brecksville.

2009 City Park Facts, a new report from the Trust for Public Land, compares the park systems of 77 American cities. The City of Cleveland has 7.1 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents, and parks make up 6.3% of the City's total area. Cleveland Lakefront State Park was the 11th-most visited urban park in the United States. The National Park Service also announced that national park visitation rose in the first half of 2009.

Cuyahoga County will begin soliciting bids for the construction of a wind turbine at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. The City of Middleburg Heights approved its construction last year.

Even before last week's Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit, local businesses were profiting by adopting sustainable business models. A Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland now must advance the summit's final goals.

Amtrak's study of the proposed 3-C Corridor will be released in mid-September. Information from the study will be used in Ohio's application for federal funding of the proposed passenger rail line.

Update: the Associated Press offers more details.

A Plain Dealer editorial about the EfficientGovNow awards says that they "demonstrate just how far this region has to go when it comes to government collaboration and also how much low-hanging fruit is within reach of communities", while a Sun Post-Herald editorial says that the proposed Westshore Regional Fire District "could not be more timely."

On Thursday, the second day of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit, the appreciative inquiry process continued as participants brainstormed and refined creative ideas for advancing a sustainable Cleveland. Ray Anderson of Interface was the morning's featured speaker. Attendees Carole Cohen, Chris Gammmell, and Marc Lefkowitz shared their experiences.

The summit concluded today with teams working to distill their concepts into tangible recommendations and to prepare written reports. The results will be compiled into a 10-year action plan. The City intents to maintain the summit's momentum by working with a post-summit committee. Joe Koncelik, Marc Lefkowitz, and Carin Rockind provided recaps of the day and entire event, while the Cleveland Public Library posted a Sustainable Cleveland Reading List.

Update: you can also read reactions by Marianne Eppig, Chris Gammell, Ed Morrison, and Robert Stockham.

At a public meeting yesterday, Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority officials and consultants again presented their preliminary plans for redeveloping their current downtown Cleveland lakefront property. The plans call for a four-phase redevelopment to be carried out over 25 years. The plans will also be the subject of a City Club talk on August 20.

The City of Parma and the West Creek Preservation Committee will acquire and preserve a 2.78-acre wooded lot at Brookdale Avenue and West 16th Street. $63,000 of the $95,000 purchase price was provided by the Clean Ohio Fund.

Update: a Parma Sun Post editorial concluded that the "partners certainly are demonstrating their commitment to preserving natural green space, something that future generations of residents will appreciate for many years to come."

Giant Eagle executives have made their proposed new Solon store contingent upon the inclusion of a new on-site gas station. Construction could not occur without a rezoning. A Chagrin Solon Sun editorial says that Giant Eagle should instead revive of one of the City's vacant gas stations.

Berea leaders want the new Cuyahoga County Land Bank to be active in their city. A News Sun editorial says that the Land Bank could help Berea.

The Community Partnership for Arts and Culture will hold From Rust Belt to Artist Belt II on September 17–18 in Cleveland's Gordon Square Arts District. It will continue the conversations of the first symposium held in May 2008.

The Ohio EPA reached an agreement with the Village of Kirtland Hills regarding unauthorized alterations of the Chagrin River near property owned by developer Jerome Osborne. The Village will develop and implement a restoration plan. No agreement was reached with Osborne.

Update: a News-Herald editorial says that the "agreement is a good development".

Notre Dame College in South Euclid opened its new South Hall last week. The four-story residence hall will accommodate 208 students. In January, the College opened its new North Hall. They are the first new dormitories at the campus since 1968.

An editorial in the Sun Press says that "the City of Shaker Heights is treading on dangerous ground" with its decision to restrict the expansion of student housing near John Carroll University.

The Jewish Community Federation building on Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland could house an international welcome center. The Federation is moving its headquarters to Beachwood.

The first house renovated by the Home Repair Resource Center in Cleveland Heights will be unveiled and open to the public from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. today. The Westover Road house was purchased by its new owners in April. Home in the Heights will next rehabilitate a house on Edison Road.

Over the last 10 years, the Housing Enhancement Loan Program has provided $103 million in low-interest loans to more that 7,500 Cuyahoga County homeowners.

At the first day of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit, Van Jones of the White House Council on Environmental Quality offered his support and Frank Jackson outlined his vision for a sustainable economy. Participants also heard from other speakers and took part in an ongoing appreciative inquiry process developed by David Cooperrider. Lynette Young of Sustainable Atlanta was very impressed. Attendees Carole Cohen, Chris Gammell, Gregg LaBar, and Robert Stockham shared their thoughts, too.

Update: Marc Lefkowitz and Annabel Khouri also provided day one summaries.

The annual Dashboard of Economic Indicators compared the economic performance of Northeast Ohio's metropolitan areas with other American metropolitan areas. It found that the area's economy improved between 2004 and 2007, but noted that it is "unclear how the region will fare after the present recession ends." The Dashboard site has not yet been updated with the latest figures.

Update: the Chronicle-Telegram offers more details.

NOACA's Executive Committee recommended allocating $34,600 to Lorain County for a study of the proposed West Shore Corridor commuter rail line. It would match funds raised by the West Shore Commuter Rail Task Force. The Governing Board may approve the funding on Friday.

Update: the board approved the funds.

The Akron Beacon Journal looked at the legacy of George P. Smith of Cuyahoga Falls, an advocate for the Cuyahoga River in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Great Lakes Echo reports that funding from the proposed Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will not be available to address combined sewer overflows or for other sewer system upgrades.

The Sun Post-Herald has more information about the planned renovation of Great Northern Mall.

Update: the North Olmsted Board of Zoning Appeals approved signage variances for the project.

The U.S. EPA is developing national air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) . Area officials expect that Ohio cities will be able to comply with the new limits.

Marc Lefkowitz began his exploration of Living Cities' involvement in Cleveland with a look at how it is supporting systematic change.

In a strongly-worded editorial, the Plain Dealer accuses the Ohio Department of Transportation of misleading the public about its Innerbelt reconstruction plans and its willingness to retain ramps at Carnegie and Prospect avenues.

More than 600 people are expected to attend the three-day sustainability summit in Cleveland this week. GreenCityBlueLake posted the pre-summit briefing paper, and a Plain Dealer editorial described the opportunities the summit should create. Meanwhile, Brent Larkin stressed the urgency of building a water-based economy in Greater Cleveland.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority will hold a public meeting (PDF) about the plans to redevelop its current facilities on Thursday at St. Ignatius High School. Dru McKeown shared his thoughts on the plans.

Consultants for the City of Euclid are developing plans for ways to better connect the City to its Lake Erie waterfront. They will present a revised proposal at public meetings this fall.

One Olmsted, a group of Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township residents, is circulating a petition for a merger study. They hope to place the study on the November ballot.

RTA began operating its proof-of-payment system on the Red Line rapid today. The system was first introduced on the HealthLine. RTA also announced the 15 bus routes that will be cut back or eliminated on September 20. The reductions are in addition to the elimination of the community circulators.

The Brecksville Planning Commission approved plans for an 80-bed skilled nursing facility on the Pilgrim Inn property. In November, voters passed a zoning overlay for the site.

The City of Shaker Heights and John Carroll University were unable to reach an agreement about the increasing amount of student housing at Fairmount Circle, and Shaker Heights City Council passed an ordinance that limits the expansion of student housing.

The Fund for Our Economic Future announced the three winners of EfficientGovNow grants today. The Mahoning River Corridor Redevelopment will receive $57,451, the Westshore Regional Fire District will receive $100,000, and the Mahoning-Youngstown Regional Information System will receive $120,000. The Fund's Chris Thompson said that the government efficiency program "has helped the region take another step in its progress toward a more vibrant economic future."

Update: the awards attracted media attention from across Northeast Ohio.

The retention of the Innerbelt ramp at Carnegie Avenue may be tied to the future of the nearby Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court building, which the County will vacate when its new Juvenile Justice Center in Fairfax is completed. It is not listed in the National Register of Historic Places, but was determined to be eligible for inclusion.

An editorial in the newly-consolidated Chagrin Solon Sun says that "it's time for Chagrin Valley municipalities to put bike racks around town."

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that "the Great Lakes require sustained attention and development" and that the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative needs to provide long-term financial support for their recovery.

The Infrastructurist identified the planned reconstruction of the West Shoreway in Cleveland as one of seven urban freeway removal projects that could benefit American cities.

The Ohio EPA's new Environmental Insurance Program (PDF) will provide discounted environmental insurance for the risks encountered in brownfield remediation.

The discussion on this morning's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN was about the impending service cuts and fare increases by RTA and other local public transit agencies. The City of Lakewood objects to the elimination of its community circulator route, and Cleveland City Council asked RTA leaders to reconsider their decision to end circulator service. RTA will hold a community meeting in each neighborhood served by a circulator.

The City of Eastlake recently adopted a new comprehensive plan. It was prepared by the City's Economic & Community Development Council, the Lake County Planning Commission, and the Chagrin River Watershed Partners.

Cleveland leaders remain frustrated by the erosion of home rule powers in Ohio.

The largest portion of the proposed $400–$475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would be targeted for environmental cleanup of the lakes and the 30 remaining areas of concern in the United States. The Brookings Institution continues to support the investment, saying that multiplier effects will at least double its impacts.

The renovated Capitol Theatre in the Gordon Square Arts District is scheduled to open on October 3. The movie theater is owned by the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization and will be managed by Cleveland Cinemas. It will show a mix of mainstream and independent films.

Chris Warren, Cleveland's Chief of Regional Development, responded to Tom Bier's op-ed from a week earlier. Warren said that "the city of Cleveland has not walked away from its long-standing efforts to promote economic development in Cleveland's Midtown neighborhood."

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