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September 2009 Archives

Greater Ohio, building on input provided at June's Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit, has prepared a draft of its Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Policy Platform and is gathering comments and suggestions. The document will serve as a model for platforms for other Ohio cities.

Urban designers Alex Washburn and Fred Salvucci will participate in the Lockwood Thompson Dialogues at the Cleveland Public Library Main Library on October 29. The event is free and open to the public.

Northeast Shores Development Corporation purchased the LaSalle Theater in North Collinwood and intends to renovate the landmark building.

Additional 2008 American Community Survey data released by the Census Bureau includes information about income, poverty (PDF), and food stamp receipts. The poverty rate rose in Ohio and the Midwest, while in Northeast Ohio, the number of people with incomes near the poverty line increased. An analysis by the Brookings Institution predicts that poverty rates will remain elevated for years.

The Ohio Division of the Federal Highway Administration conducted a Review of Ohio Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning and Safety Efforts (PDF) at the Ohio Department of Transportation and the state's metropolitan planning organizations. It included a set of recommendations to improve the conditions for bicycling and walking. Meanwhile, two Ohio Senators introduced a bill that would establish a safe lateral passing distance for motorists passing cyclists.

Channel 3's Jeff Maynor toured the Tyler Village complex in Cleveland.

Cleveland City Council approved a $2 million loan to the developers of the proposed aquarium at the Powerhouse in the Flats. Councilman Cummins cast the sole dissenting vote.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the aquarium plans are interesting.

The Gordon Square Arts District celebrated the completion of the Detroit Avenue streetscape project on Saturday. The grand re-opening of the district's Capitol Theatre will be held on October 2, and the festivities will continue for 10 days. A Plain Dealer editorial says that "this should be an important and joyous week for the residents of Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood."

Update: WCPN and the Plain Dealer have more information.

As anticipated, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommended building a new 157-acre confined disposal facility north of East 55th Street in Cleveland. The $277 million project would provide capacity for 20 years of dredge material from the Cuyahoga River and Cleveland Harbor.

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District leaders are negotiating with state and federal officials about the district's plans to eliminate combined sewer overflows. NEORSD officials want 30 years to resolve the problems, but the U.S. EPA is insisting on a 20-year timetable.

The Gund Foundation announced $5.6 million in grants yesterday. The largest award was a $4 million grant to the Fund for Our Economic Future, a 30% increase in the foundation's support for the effort. The Cleveland Foundation awarded $14.8 million in grants, including $250,000 for two ParkWorks programs.

Eaton Corp. closed on its purchase of 53 acres in the Beachwood portion of the Chagrin Highlands for its new headquarters campus. The price was not revealed.

Update: the Ohio Treasurer's Office issued $10 million in bonds for the project.

The U.S. EPA's research vessel Mudpuppy is sampling the sediment behind the Cuyahoga River dam in Summit County's Gorge Metro Park. Results of the tests should be available early next year. The Ohio EPA wants to remove the dam, but FirstEnergy would like it to stay.

Baldwin-Wallace College is preparing a study on municipal collaboration for leaders in Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, and Pepper Pike. It should be completed by November.

After some delays, two types of noise barriers are being tested along the Ohio Turnpike in Berea and Strongsville through a noise mitigation pilot project.

The next event in the Levin College Forum's Building Our Future Beyond Foreclosure series will be held on October 8 and is titled Reconsidering the American Dream. It will be a discussion of proposed federal housing policy reform, and author Alyssa Katz will give the keynote address.

Residents and business owners along the path of the proposed Opportunity Corridor in Cleveland are skeptical that its construction would benefit them. Marc Lefkowitz noted that "the city will walk a tightrope between satisfying the traffic concerns of west siders commuting to The Clinic and University Circle and its promises to make this a boulevard with land-uses consistent with a healthy urban fabric."

On Tuesday, Frank Jackson made three announcements about sustainability in Cleveland. He promoted Office of Sustainability Director Andrew Watterson to Chief of Sustainability, a new cabinet-level position. He unveiled the 25-member Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Council, which will be responsible for guiding the City's 10-year sustainability strategy. He also revealed the 63-member steering committee for the second sustainability summit, to be held next year.

The U.S. Census Bureau released 2008 American Community Survey data on Monday. Social, housing, demographic, and economic data are available for areas with populations of 65,000 or more. It showed decreases in median household income across Ohio, especially in the state's major cities. For the first time, the ACS included data on health insurance coverage, and Northeast Ohio's big cities had a greater percentage of people without coverage than state and national averages.

Trail projects in Brooklyn Heights and Cuyahoga Heights were among the 15 Ohio projects awarded grants through the Recreational Trails Program.

Update: one of the planned trails is a portion of the West Creek Greenway and would connect the Henninger House in Parma to Brooklyn Heights Village Park.

The proposed Regional Prosperity Initiative continues to generate mixed reactions. Some leaders in Wayne County support the concept, while others have doubts.

The board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority approved modifications of the current downtown port facilities. The $10.3 million project includes filling in a slip, building a warehouse and a road, and purchasing a mobile crane. A Plain Dealer editorial says that Port Authority officials must operate with more transparency.

MMPI is working behind the scenes on the engineering, design, and marketing of the planned Medical Mart in Cleveland. Construction is scheduled to begin late next year.

The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority was one of 36 public housing authorities (DOC) awarded federal stimulus grants. CMHA will receive $17.7 million for the redevelopment of its Garden Valley Estates in Kinsman.

On Friday, the Federal Highway Administration issued its approval (PDF) of the Ohio Department of Transportation's plans to rebuilt the Innerbelt freeway in Cleveland. ODOT is now free to begin implementing its plans.

GreenCityBlueLake and Rust Wire present highlights from the second From Rust Belt to Artist Belt conference, held last week in the Gordon Square Arts District. In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Gordon Square Arts District Chairman Lawrence Schultz describes the neighborhood reinvestment as "a unique economic dynamo" that is "rewriting the way the arts can rapidly shape neighborhood redevelopment."

Update: GreenCityBlueLake has more stories from the event.

Joe Koncelik believes that Northeast Ohio needs to prepare for the likelihood of tighter federal ozone standards.

American Public Media's Marketplace reported from Cleveland on two foreclosure-related topics. The first story followed up on a report issued earlier this year comparing foreclosures in Collinwood and Braddock, Pennsylvania. The second focused on the potential pitfalls of online real estate purchases.

The Great Lakes Expo Center is a new meeting and convention center in Euclid. The 215,000-square-foot facility on Babbitt Road is a former Kmart store.

The City of Cleveland is seeking $37 million in federal stimulus funding for the planned reconstruction of the West Shoreway.

The interior makeover of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is half complete, as manager BAA modernizes the terminal and converts the airport's retail establishments to its airmall concept.

GreenCityBlueLake and Rust Wire summarized aspects of this week's German Marshall Fund workshop.

A $16 million gift from the Mandel family will fund the move of the Jewish Community Federation from downtown Cleveland to Beachwood.

Governor Strickland appointed Lisa Patt-McDaniel as director of the Ohio Department of Development. She has served as its interim director since May.

State and local governments committed $54 million in new public loans and grants for the stalled Flats east bank project, which may enable developers (PDF) to resume construction of a downsized first phase next spring. Formerly a $500 million project, the $270 million development now includes a 450,000-square-foot office tower, a 150-room hotel, a 3-acre riverfront beach, and 14 acres of greenspace.

Update: two Plain Dealer reporters discussed the announcement, and an editorial said it "seems like a win-win".

Amtrak yesterday released a draft of its feasibility report (PDF) on the proposed 3-C Corridor passenger rail line. It said that the service could be operating by 2011 with nearly 500,000 riders at a cost of $500 million. It would include six daily stops at two Cleveland stations, the lakefront Amtrak station and RTA's Puritas rapid station.

Update: most attendees at an ORDC meeting supported the proposal. Others want more information.

Jim White of the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization spoke at the City Club today "about the recovery of the Cuyahoga River as a part of a new regional economy (MP3, 54.1 MB)."

The topic of this morning's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN was the proposed Opportunity Corridor in Cleveland. Phyllis Cleveland, Deb Janik, and Steven Litt appeared as guests.

As anticipated, the U.S. EPA declared that eight Greater Cleveland counties now meet federal ozone standards. The region likely will not comply with new federal standards scheduled to take effect next spring. The announcement does not affect the E-Check program.

Update: the EPA also announced that it will reconsider the new standards "to ensure they are scientifically sound and protective of human health." They could be made more stringent.

GreenCityBlueLake posted a list of 28 initiatives (PDF) that were developed at the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit and compiled by the City of Cleveland.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more details.

An evaluation by the U.S. EPA's Office of Inspector General estimates that at the current rate of progress, it will take more than 77 years to complete the cleanup of the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The complete document and a summary (PDFs) are available online.

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis and Dan Moulthroup of WCPN described the new Cuyahoga County Land Bank on The Take Away.

The City of Cleveland will soon begin the renovation of Perk Plaza at Chester Avenue and East 12th Street in downtown Cleveland.

On Friday, NOACA's Governing Board approved changes to its membership. The weighted voting provision was removed, and six new members were added. The new seats on the 44-member board went to the cities of Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Lakewood, and Parma, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, and the Medina County Engineer. Under the previous rules, Cuyahoga County representatives controlled 50% of the votes in an unweighted vote and 62.5% of the votes in a weighted vote. Cuyahoga County members now make up 54.5% of the board, while Cuyahoga County's population is 61% of the five-county region. The Governing Board also narrowly approved a rule that requires its president and vice president to be elected officeholders.

The completion of the replacement Fulton Road Bridge in Old Brooklyn has been delayed. It is now scheduled to open in May 2010.

A draft of a study (PDF) by the Ohio EPA of 30 construction and demolition debris landfills found pollutants in their leachate. Each landfill had 3–29 pollutants at levels in excess of health or water quality standards. Five of the landfills surveyed are in Cuyahoga County.

Work on the renovated plaza at the Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building is nearly complete. The $15 million downtown project includes 27,000 new plants and trees and public art by Pae White.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, David Cooperrider of the Weatherhead School of Management wrote about sustainability in Cleveland and the recent summit. He believes that Northeast Ohio is poised to become a leading sustainable economy, and that the summit was the end of the quiet crisis.

Marc Lefkowitz looked at food deserts in Cleveland and their connection to chronic health issues. Author Michael Pollan also has been making connections between food policy changes and health-care reform.

A panel will award funding to 40–50 of the 103 projects submitted for Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland grants. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the "lots in Cleveland are about to get amazing makeovers."

Smart Growth for Coastal & Waterfront Communities is a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It presents 10 elements that "augment the existing smart growth principles to reflect the specific challenges and opportunities characterizing the waterfront."

(via Kaid Benfield)

David Jones of the News Herald summarized the history of the Lake Erie property lines case and considered how it may proceed.

The Fund for Our Economic Future is considering a second round of funding for the EfficientGovNow program and is gathering feedback from first round participants.

Update: the survey results are now available.

At a boat tour on Wednesday, Mayor Jackson explained how he intends to implement the Cleveland lakefront plan that he inherited from the Campbell administration. He also described a number of related initiatives, including the planned port relocation and decision to retain Burke Lakefront Airport. In addition, Jackson said that he wants the City to loan $2 million for the proposed aquarium at the Powerhouse in the Flats.

The lower deck of the Detroit-Superior Bridge will host the Bridge Project on September 25 and 26. The Pop-Up City festival will feature several events, including the fifth Cleveland Pecha Kucha Night and a student design charette. Kent State University and Villa Angela-St. Joseph students have prepared concepts for new uses for the bridge's lower level.

Update: Cool Cleveland's Thomas Mulready interviewed Terry Schwartz about the project.

RTA broke ground today for the new Stephanie Tubbs Jones Transit Center in downtown Cleveland. The $6.4 million project is entirely federally funded, and 87% of its construction costs were covered by stimulus dollars.

Lakewood City Council is considering legislation that would expand the City's historic preservation ordinance to cover the interior of historic structures.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information about the Lakewood proposal and similar legislation in Cleveland.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority is no longer pursuing a proposed Lake Erie ferry from North Coast Harbor to Port Stanley, Ontario, at least partly due to issues on the Canadian side. However, planning continues for the initiation of ferry service between Lake County and Port Burwell, Ontario. Port Authority officials instead want to proceed with modifications to the Port of Cleveland and the development of cargo container shipping. The Port Authority will apply for federal stimulus funds to establish a containerized shipping line between Cleveland and Montreal.

In addition to upholding the lower court decision, the recent appeals court ruling in the Lake Erie shoreline case also said that the Ohio attorney general had no standing in the case. The Ohio Environmental Council called the decision a "gross misinterpretation of the [Ohio] Revised Code".

A group of Brooklyn residents submitted petitions for two issues to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, but not in time for them to appear on the November ballot. The group is seeking to recall Mayor Patton and to have a citywide vote on the proposed redesign of the I-480 interchange at Tiedeman Road.

All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Architectural Ideas for Cleveland will present "a collective exhibition of architectural ideas for vacant sites in Cleveland, Ohio" on October 30 and 31 at the Sculpture Center. Proposals are due by September 30.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association and the National Park Service are launching the new Trails Forever initiative, an effort to repair and expand the park's trail network. One of their goals is to raise a $10 million endowment by 2016, the interest from which would be used to enhance the trails. Meanwhile, the environmental cleanup of the former Krejci Dump in the park was extended through the end of November 2011. Contamination at the site is more extensive than anticipated.

Hospice of the Western Reserve recently purchased the 12-acre St. Joseph Christian Life Center property from the Cleveland Catholic Diocese. The hospice intends to eventually demolish the site's landmark four-story retreat house.

The owners of the Bailey Building in downtown Lakewood plan to remove its 1960s concrete facade to reveal the original 1920s brick building.

The first phase of the Cleveland Institute of Art's Campus Unification Project, the renovation of its McCullough Center, began earlier this year and will continue through fall 2010. The planned expansion is scheduled to begin in January 2011.

RTA is proposing a new Weekly Shopper Service, a scaled-back replacement of its eliminated community circulator service. The one-year pilot project would require partnerships to cover 50% of its operating costs, and could begin operations in January.

A 98-acre farm in Eaton Township is returning to nature as the new Margaret Peak Nature Preserve.

On September 14 and 15, the German Marshall Fund will host a Great Lakes Regionalism & Economic Development Workshop at CSU's Levin College of Urban Affairs. Attendees will "examine the concept of regionalism, how regional identities are fostered, and how regional strategies can help promote economic development."

(via GLUE)

The U.S. EPA and a group of local partners are conducting the Cleveland Multiple Air Pollutant Study, a two-part air quality study of Cleveland and the surrounding area. The program is a national model intended to help identify the sources (PDF) of a variety of specific pollutants.

Solon City Council voted to place a rezoning issue on the November ballot for the proposed new Giant Eagle supermarket and Get-Go gas station at Solar Shopping Center. If approved by voters, the 20.99-acre site would be rezoned from C-3 commercial and O-3 office zoning to the newly-created C3-A commercial shopping center classification.

Update: the Solon Times spoke with residents about the proposal.

Cleveland Metroparks Executive Director Vern Hartenburg announced his retirement on Wednesday. He has held the position since 1988, and will stay on until a replacement is selected in the spring. A Plain Dealer editorial said that "he will be sorely missed".

The City of Brecksville is ready to enter into an agreement with the developers who will be managing the redevelopment of the Brecksville VA hospital campus.

Keeping the aging commercial spaces along Pearl Road occupied poses a challenge for Parma Heights leaders.

Ohio Rail Development Commission officials are quickly trying to fulfill requirements for federal funding of the proposed 3-C Corridor passenger rail line. They intend to apply for up to $450 million of the $8 billion in stimulus funds available for high-speed rail. The requests of Midwest states that would be served through the Chicago Hub Network are expected to be among $102 billion in requests from 40 states and Washington, D.C.

The Jane and Lee Seidman Tower was topped out on Wednesday. The new 72-bed patient tower is part of the $163 million expansion of Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights.

The expanded Wal-Mart on Pearl Road in Strongsville opened on Wednesday. The renovation doubled the size of the store and converted it to a supercenter.

Update: the Sun Star Courier has more details.

The Fund for Our Economic Future adopted the new Fund for Sustainability, an outgrowth of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit. When it is more fully funded and gains guidelines, it will provide loans to sustainable businesses.

Whether the E-Check program continues in Northeast Ohio may depend on how the U.S. EPA designates the region under its new ozone standards. It could be named as a moderate nonattainment area or a marginal nonattainment area. The Ohio EPA currently intends to extend E-Check until at least June 2011.

Update: Envirotest will continue to operate the program through the end of June 2011.

The Ohio Department of Development has been without a permanent director since Lee Fisher stepped down in February, and a Plain Dealer editorial says that appointing a director should be a priority. The paper had earlier raised the issue in May, when Lisa Patt-McDaniel was named as interim director. Meanwhile, Karen Kasler of the Statehouse News Bureau asked what the department should be doing and whether it should continue to exist.

A New York Times editorial describes the proposed Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as an important start and "a small down payment on a project that could ultimately cost $20 billion."

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority withdrew its support from a proposal to build a trail at Dike 14 in Cleveland, because it wants more time to consider how Dike 14 relates to the planned port relocation. On September 26, the Dike 14 Education Collaborative will hold Migration Mania (PDF), an open house with self-guided walking tours (PDF).

The Levin College Forum will continue its Building Our Future Beyond Foreclosure series with an event titled "Feeding Cleveland: Creating a Sustainable Local Food System" on September 16. It will feature Penn State professor Clare Hinrich, and registration is free.

Architect Miguel Rosales has developed six concepts for the planned pedestrian bridge at Cleveland's North Coast Harbor. The City plans to select a design this fall, begin design work next year, and start construction in 2012. Steven Litt said that the project could "set a new standard of excellence for public infrastructure in Cleveland, if not the entire state." The City is conducting a poll where people can vote for their favorite design.

The new Cuyahoga County Land Bank may acquire its first properties this week, and about 250 parcels by the end of the year. Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis thinks that it also can help prevent abandoned houses. The Land Bank's board adopted a new six-month business plan on Friday.

The Ohio EPA proposed changes to the state's wetland mitigation rules in early 2006, but they remain unimplemented due to objections from developers. Between 2006 and 2008, more than 477 acres of wetlands and 106 miles of streams were filled in. Ohio EPA officials hope to reach a compromise in October.

The Lake County Mayors and City Managers Association has taken no action on the proposed 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative since it was presented to members in April. Painesville City Manager Rita McMahon expects that building consensus will be difficult.

The newest stretch of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is 2.25 miles long and includes 1,645-foot section that floats over Summit Lake in South Akron. It will be dedicated on Friday.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that investment in the Towpath Trail "already is paying off handsomely."

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the dormitories under construction at Cleveland State University may enable it to "shed for good its cold commuter-school image and remake itself as an attractive, lively campus."

Richard Stuebi compared the recent sustainability summit in Cleveland to a meeting of climate change skeptics in Springfield, Missouri. Meanwhile, participants from BrownFlynn reported on their involvement and followup activities, and a waste to profit group is gathering support.

The Downtown Cleveland Alliance is hosting more public forums today and tomorrow about the potential renewal of the Downtown Cleveland Special Improvement District.

Update: Jeremy Borger shared more details.

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