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October 2009 Archives

As anticipated, Congress approved $475 million in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Members of President Obama's Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force discussed the program on Thursday when they held their sixth and final regional public meeting in Cleveland. Joe Koncelik fears that the initiative's local match requirement could create problems.

Update: WKSU also reported on the meeting.

Congress appropriated $4 million toward the purchase of 635 undeveloped acres surrounding Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls. The property, the largest remaining private parcel within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, would be incorporated into the park.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial applauds the announcement.

A Plain Dealer editorial supports the proposed renewal of the Downtown Cleveland Special Improvement District.

CWRU supplied more details about the upcoming lecture by Douglas Farr.

Consultants from JJR presented a draft of their waterfront plan (PDF) to Euclid leaders on Wednesday. The City intends to hold three as-yet unscheduled public meetings about the plan.

Update: editors of the News-Herald are "among those eagerly awaiting the final details."

Officials in Solon are discussing a proposed receivership program that the City would employ to address residential abandonment.

While a Congressional conference committee recommended funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at the full $475 million level, environmental advocates say that the lakes need additional protections. Others identify a need for a national policy on oceans and waterways. The public will have an opportunity to provide input at the regional Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force meeting (PDF) in Cleveland on Thursday.

Highway traffic volumes are rising in Greater Cleveland, mirroring national trends. Traffic congestion in American urban areas reached its low point in the second quarter of 2009, and experts say that the increases are tied to the stabilizing economy.

Brent Larkin thinks that the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority needs to provide better leadership and accelerate the timetable of its planned move. Cleveland leaders expressed mixed reactions.

The planned construction of the Medical Mart and new convention center will provide "a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pump new life into the Mall," says Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer. However, he cautions that "the question, as always, is whether the city will rise to the occasion or settle for mediocrity as it often has in the past when it comes to public spaces."

A Plain Dealer editorial about the recent PolicyBridge report on Cleveland's neighborhoods concludes that "this as a time to build, not a time to mourn -- precisely the attitude Clevelanders must adopt."

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration agreed to review the feasibility of adding a connection between Cleveland and Pittsburgh to the list of designated high-speed passenger rail corridors.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners are expected to approve a funding mechanism for the new county land bank today. The land bank will also be the subject of the next event in the Levin College Forum's Building Our Future Beyond Foreclosure series. Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis and land bank president Gus Frangos will participate in the form on November 19.

The Great Lakes Science Center will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony this evening to celebrate the completion of the walkway between the Science Center and the Steamship William G. Mather Museum.

Update: WTAM has pictures of the new connector.

The Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine today announced the establishment of the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods. With funding from the Centers for Disease Control, the new center will "address common health issues faced in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods in and around Greater Cleveland."

Bipartisan legislation introduced in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly would authorize 28 more counties to organize a county land bank. The current statute, adopted earlier this year, applies only to Cuyahoga County.

Update: the Dayton Daily News offers additional information.

While Congress passed an one-month extension of SAFETEA-LU, the 2005 transportation law, it did not remove the $8.7 billion rescission included in the old bill. The cuts have hit alternative transportation projects especially hard, and Ohio is among the states canceling funding for transportation enhancements, CMAQ, and trails projects.

As the U.S. Conference of Mayors marked the 1,000th local leader to sign its Climate Protection Agreement, it published profiles of 16 mayors who are pursuing innovative strategies (PDF) to reduce pollution. Frank Jackson was one of those profiled.

(via Streetsblog Capitol Hill)

Mandy Metcalf disagrees with the conclusions of the report released by PolicyBridge last week. She says that Cleveland needs to "to invest in all neighborhoods and all communities" and that "all of our neighborhoods should not only survive but thrive."

Update: Mansfield Frazier supports the report's findings, but says that they could be difficult to implement.

(via GreenCityBlueLake)

Officials in Cleveland, Euclid, and Lakewood have expressed interest in RTA's proposed new Weekly Shopper Service, a once-weekly shuttle that would succeed its discontinued community circulator routes. RTA will organize a series of community meetings.

Marc Lefkowitz looked at proposals for multipurpose trails and greenways in suburban Cuyahoga County and described the process that led to the construction of the Lake to Lake Trail in Middleburg Heights

Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer praised City Architecture's design for the planned new Collinwood Community Recreation Center. The $10.8 million conversion of a former Big Lots store will strive for a LEED Gold rating.

Upcoming events:

(via GreenCityBlueLake)

Rob Pitingolo examined the relationship between RTA ridership and some of the factors that may influence it, including fares, gas prices, population changes, and unemployment rates.

The Cleveland Clinic completed the purchase of the Cleveland Play House property on Euclid Avenue, buying the 11.29-acre site for $13 million. The Clinic will lease the complex back to the Play House for free until at least the end of 2011. The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland will leave the facilities when the Play House completes its move to Playhouse Square.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more details.

The City of Akron and the U.S. EPA reached a tentative agreement on the combined sewer overflow lawsuit brought by the EPA. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, the City will build additional sewer separation projects, upgrade its wastewater treatment plant, help fund the removal of Canal Diversion Dam on the Cuyahoga River, and pay fines. Sewer rates could rise substantially.

Updates: sewer rates may double or triple during the 19-year sewer project. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial asserts that federal clean water mandates should be "backed by a reliable funding stream to local governments.."

Douglas Farr will give the Richard N. Campen Lecture in Architecture at the Allen Memorial Medical Library on November 5. Titled "Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature", the talk is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

A new report from PolicyBridge (PDF) recommends that Cleveland should carefully target investments in its neighborhoods. It says that "Cleveland must make strategic choices about rebuilding its neighborhoods, making tough decisions about investing aggressively in some while scaling back investments in others."

Issue 83 in Solon is the proposed rezoning of Solar Shopping Center to the new C3-A commercial shopping center classification.

The Indiana Department of Transportation applied for $2.8 billion in federal stimulus funds to plan, build, and launch high-speed rail service between Chicago and Cleveland.

Sunday's Plain Dealer included several opinion pieces on the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's proposed relocation. Former Cleveland Planning Director Hunter Morrison said that the planning efforts "should look beyond the corporate limits of Cleveland and include all of the region's industrial port assets—including the ports of Lorain, Grand River, Ashtabula and Conneaut". Adam Wasserman and Steven Williams of the Port Authority said that the facts support the planned move, and released a draft of the Port's five-year maritime business plan (PDF). Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and mayoral candidate Bill Patmon also weighed in.

Testing for the Ohio Turnpike's noise mitigation pilot project concluded on Friday, and nearby residents said that the sound barriers made a difference. The Turnpike Commission will now review the results of the study and identify next steps. Adding barriers where needed would cost an estimated $39 million.

Voters in Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township will decide whether or not to create a commission that would study the potential for a merger of the two communities. It is Issue 58 in Olmsted Falls and Issue 103 in Olmsted Township.

John Carroll University's desire to create more green space for athletic fields by demolishing six houses remains a contentious issue in University Heights. City Council's University Affairs Committee is exploring alternatives.

Downtown Cleveland property owners continue to discuss the proposed reauthorization of the Downtown Cleveland Special Improvement District for a second five-year period.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Terry Allan of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health highlights inequities in public health faced by residents in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Projections of RTA ridership figures indicate that the transit agency will experience a record low number of riders in 2009. Through August, ridership was down 11.6% for the year.

CWRU's Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development mapped changes in food stamp recipients over time to illustrate the shifting demographics of Cuyahoga County.

Yesterday, the U.S. EPA announced that six Greater Cleveland counties fail to meet 2006 federal standards for fine particle pollution (PM2.5), making official the designation made in December 2008. Ohio must develop a plan for bringing Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties into attainment status.

Update: Brad Chase at GreenCityBlueLake looked at what Northeast Ohio has done and what it still could do to lower particulate pollution levels. The Akron Beacon Journal has more details about the announcement.

Rust Wire recapped the Levin College Forum event yesterday that featured author Alyssa Katz. The next Forum event on October 30 will be a panel discussion about interdisciplinary partnerships for infrastructure investments.

A Plain Dealer editorial urges Congress to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at the full $475 million level approved by the House instead of the $400 million authorized by the Senate.

The proposed Grant W. Deming Forest Hill Allotment Historic District in Cleveland Heights is pending approval by the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board. The City and Ohio Historic Preservation Office will hold a public meeting about the proposal on October 26 at the Superior Schoolhouse.

This week's Scene took a skeptical look at the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's relocation plans.

On November 5, the Cleveland Clinic will break ground for the first building at its new Twinsburg medical campus. Construction of the $71 million outpatient surgery and medical office building is scheduled to finish in fall 2011.

The cool weather and poor economy led to cleaner air in Northeast Ohio this summer. There were only three Ozone Action Days and four days when particulate matter levels were unhealthy.

Consultants for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority said that the Port Authority could take in $1 billion over 20 years through the planned redevelopment of its current downtown facilities.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is beginning (PDF) an environmental impact statement for the modification or removal of the Canal Diversion Dam on the Cuyahoga River in Brecksville. The dam provides water for the Ohio & Erie Canal, but impairs the river's water quality. The study will attempt to balance the historic preservation and environmental perspectives. The public is invited to provide input at a meeting at the Happy Days Lodge on October 28.

Cleveland City Council approved a financial package for the first phase of the Flats east bank development. The incentives include a $30 million loan, a revised TIF agreement, more bonds, and changes to earlier loan agreements.

Although an Amtrak study said that the proposed 3-C Corridor could begin service in 2011 if it receives funding, it may not start operating until the end of 2012.

Christopher Diehl will step down from his post as director of Kent State's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative to concentrate on teaching. He has led the program since May 2007.

Citing a lack of support from residents, the City of Parma canceled the planning study for the proposed Avon-Juniper Multipurpose Trail.

A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge dissolved a restraining order, freeing the City of Cleveland to resume the demolition of the former Howard Johnson's hotel near the East Shoreway and East 55th Street. Cleveland City Council members are pleased. Demolition of the condemned building is expected to resume in the next few weeks.

Update: the demolition is underway.

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray said he intends to join in the appeal of the Lake Erie property lines case to the Ohio Supreme Court. A Plain Dealer editorial strongly supported his choice, and an editorial in Toledo's Blade is even more unequivocal about the decision and need to appeal. An earlier Akron Beacon Journal editorial made similar points.

Update: Cordray filed the appeal, saying that the "ruling by the appeals court undermines the attorney general's authority and duty to represent the people of Ohio."

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park's first step in updating its trails plan is an informal survey of area stakeholders. Backpackers, equestrians, and mountain bikers would all like to see more trails.

Today's Plain Dealer presents additional details about the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's unwillingness to support a grant proposal for a trail at Dike 14 in Cleveland.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "port officials need to be far more forthcoming" about their decision. Port Authority President Adam Wasserman said that there are ownership questions about the site that must be resolved.

The third annual Cleveland Design Competition launched today. This year's competition focuses on the downtown Amtrak station and "challenges entrants to propose designs for a Multi-Modal Transportation Center in Downtown Cleveland at the north end of the historic Mall." The registration deadline is December 1.

Ohio Department of Transportation representatives presented a portion of their plans for the new Innerbelt Bridge to the Cleveland City Planning Commission on Friday. Planning Commission members asked ODOT to consider making changes to the design.

More than 100 people gathered on Saturday to celebrate the rededication of the Irish Cultural Garden in Rockefeller Park.

Last week, the Ohio Department of Transportation submitted its application for $563.8 million in federal stimulus funds for the proposed 3-C Corridor passenger rail line. About 40 states were expected to submit $106 billion in applications for the available $8 billion.

Cleveland Metroparks officials hope to eventually extend the Lake to Lake Trail to Beyer's Pond at the Big Creek Reservation in Middleburg Heights.

The developer of the planned Village View project in Chagrin Falls was unable to obtain financing for the mixed-use development, and a new developer now wants to acquire the properties on West Orange Street and build 11 condominiums.

Members of the West Shore Commuter Rail Task Force intend to begin work on a study of the proposed line between Cleveland and Sandusky. They envision a multimodal transportation hub at Black River Landing in Lorain.

Community Research Partners analyzed IRS migration data to identify the destinations of people moving from Ohio and the originations of people moving to Ohio. The report looked at migration between Ohio and the rest of the U.S., within the state, and within metropolitan areas. From 2007 to 2008, Ohio experienced a net loss of 35,692 residents through domestic migration.

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