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November 2009 Archives

More than 100 people attended the last of five public meetings about the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's proposed regional stormwater management program. Some residents objected to the new stormwater fee it would entail.

Update: leaders in Summit County remain opposed to the program.

Frank Jackson, displeased with what he views as a lack of communication from MMPI, yesterday sent the company a list of questions (PDF) about the the proposed changes in the design of the Medical Mart. He also said that the City will hire a consultant to independently assess the condition of Public Auditorium. Steven Litt reviewed MMPI's revised plan and is dubious of its merits.

The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority is using the $69 million it received in federal stimulus grants to improve conditions at its Garden Valley Estates, Woodhill Homes, and other public housing estates.

The Cleveland Clinic broke ground today for its new Avon Family Health & Surgery Center near the planned I-90 interchange at Nagel Road. The 186,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in 2011. Earlier this month, the Clinic began construction of a location in Twinsburg.

Update: the Morning Journal and Chronicle-Telegram have more details. A Morning Journal editorial says that its construction will be good for Avon.

The tax sharing component of the proposed 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative continues to draw opposition in Lake County. The Initiative issued an interim revenue sharing report (PDF) in September.

The U.S. EPA issued a request for proposals through the $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The competitive grant process will "provide funding to address the most significant Great Lakes ecosystem problems". Projects must be submitted by January 29.

A Plain Dealer editorial urges the Ohio Department of Transportation to incorporate more local input into the design process for the planned new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland. It notes ODOT's dismissive attitude, saying that "the agency consistently has treated Cleveland like a stepchild who should be glad she's getting anything for Christmas."

Details about the upheaval at the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority continue to trickle in:

In Sunday's Plain Dealer, Harvey Webster advocated for establishing the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve at Dike 14 in Cleveland.

On the most recent Feagler & Friends program, architect Peter van Dijk, Levin College Dean Ned Hill, and the Plain Dealer's Steven Litt discussed the changing plans for the Medical Mart in Cleveland. A Plain Dealer editorial said that the project should move forward. The paper also posted MMPI's photographs of Public Auditorium's obsolete utilities.

Update: the Plain Dealer shared more details of MMPI's presentation on the issues with Public Auditorium.

Local officials remain disenchanted with the way HUD manages its inventory of vacant houses. Earlier this month, HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development Mercedes Marquez defended the department's practices in a Plain Dealer op-ed.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "the problems could be resolved if HUD had open and frequent communication with cities and housing groups".

The City of Broadview Heights is preparing to hire G2M Design Collaborative of Avon to conduct a master land use study (PDF).

Members of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority board revealed today that they are reconsidering plans to relocate to new facilities north of East 55th Street and efforts to attract container shipping. They also indicated that the Port Authority faces a budget shortfall this year and reflected on recent events. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told the Port Authority that failure to establish a new confined disposal facility by 2015 could halt dredging of the Cuyahoga River and the Port of Cleveland.

The owners of the Quay 55 apartments asserted that board member John Carney has conflicts of interest and called for his removal. Longtime port staffer Rose Ann DeLeon resigned on Wednesday, becoming the third official to leave in the last six weeks.

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that African Americans are more likely to live in proximity to a polluting industrial facility than white Americans. The disparity was especially acute in Midwestern cities.

The City of South Euclid intends to renovate five to seven houses through its $800,000 Green Neighborhoods Initiative, and will apply green building and universal design techniques. The City is also preparing to establish its first community garden at a previously vacant lot on Warrendale Road.

Kent State University surveyed participants in the EfficientGovNow process. The majority of respondents said that they are advancing on the regionalism initiatives identified as part of the competition.

The Village of Kirtland Hills is finalizing its plans for the restoration of the altered 8,700-foot stretch of the Chagrin River.

The Euclid Tech Center is a proposed 98,000-square-foot office/research & development building at Euclid Avenue and East 69th Street in Cleveland. Its developers are seeking financial assistance from the City and State to build the $20 million project.

The Plain Dealer and Channel 3 have more details about the dispute between the Ohio Department of Transportation and Fred Finley, owner of the Cleveland Cold Storage building.

Update: a judge returned control of the building to Finley pending a January hearing.

Members of the new White House Office of Urban Affairs recently visited Cleveland to gather feedback about the federal stimulus program.

WCPN looked at how the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and the Ohio EPA have invested their federal stimulus dollars.

Steven Litt has questions about MMPI's revised concept for the Medical Mart in Cleveland, and participants on yesterday's Sound of Ideas program raised more questions. Cleveland City Council members demanded answers from MMPI representatives at a meeting yesterday. MMPI officials gave their reasons for rejecting Public Auditorium and presented alternate configurations they considered before concluding that Mall C would be the best site. Scene remained unimpressed, as was Roldo Bartimole.

While 20 companies are interested in leasing space at the Medical Mart, none of them have signed agreements. If negotiations bog down, Cuyahoga County leaders could suspend monthly payments to MMPI.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority again declined to share the reasons for CEO Adam Wasserman's recent exit, and the Plain Dealer repeated its call for better communication and transparency from the Port Authority. An article in this week's Scene tells the story of Wasserman's two-year tenure.

Meanwhile, the Port Authority board today delayed the port's planned move to a new dike near East 55th Street. The Port Authority also admitted that it cannot meet the deadline to supply the $158 million local match for the construction of the dike.

In order to balance its 2010 budget, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority proposed cutbacks of between 12% and 21% of current service levels. A 12% reduction would entail the discontinuation of all or most of 32 bus routes. RTA will hold eight public hearings in early January.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Business Civic Leadership Center may help to advance and focus the outcomes of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit. A representative of the BCLC, which is conducting a sustainable communities competition, attended an Entrepreneurs for Sustainability event yesterday.

Update: GreenCityBlueLake has more information about the SC2019 Outcome Showcase.

The Cleveland edition of GLUE's "I Will Stay If..." campaign will take place on Wednesday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Speakeasy in Ohio City. The evening will feature opportunities for networking and idea-sharing, plus presentations from Lillian Kuri, Randell McShepard, and Matt Zone.

The Countryside Initiative is offering one farm for lease in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Edgar Farm in Valley View. The Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy will accept proposals through January 15.

In the wake of Adam Wasserman's departure from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, a Plain Dealer editorial said that "the port has to change, and it will change if it wants its trajectory to be up, not down and out." Brent Larkin thinks that more dramatic changes are necessary.

The $21 million renovation of the Union Gospel Press building in Tremont should be completed by the end of the year. About half of the units in the 175,000-square-foot complex have been rented.

The U.S. Department of Justice, the Ohio Attorney General, and Akron City Council approved the settlement of the lawsuit over the City's combined sewer overflows. It is subject to a 60-day public comment period and approval by a federal judge. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial assessed the repercussions of the agreement.

The final draft of the Euclid Waterfront Improvements Plan (PDF) is available for public review, and the Euclid Planning and Zoning Commission will hold public hearings about the plan on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District issued two reports: a survey of water quality and habitat in the middle Cuyahoga River (PDF) and an assessment of West Creek (PDF).

The owner of the Cleveland Cold Storage building says that he has been treated unfairly by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Also known as the Distribution Terminal Warehouse, it is one of several historic buildings that ODOT intends to demolish for the planned new Innerbelt Bridge.

Dru McKeown summarized Douglas Farr's recent lecture, and Rust Wire reported on Timothy Beatley's talk last week. Both spoke about sustainable urbanism.

MMPI's announcement that they now intend to build the Medical Mart at the northern edge of Mall C surprised Cleveland leaders, and they are concerned about the proposed changes. Steven Litt considered the architectural and urban design implications of the new site and how Public Auditorium would fit in. Commissioner Hagan defended MMPI, while Mayor Jackson still wants the company to renovate Public Auditorium.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial said that the recent events underscore the need for better communication. MedCity News compared the project's timetable with those of competing developments in Nashville and New York City.

The new wind turbine at Pearl Road Auto Parts in Cleveland began producing electricity on Friday. It was erected in September. Owner Jon Kaplan also started PearlWind, a turbine purchasing and installation company.

The Cleveland Metroparks are using geographic information systems technologies to help manage their 22,000-acre network of parks.

The Cleveland Clinic held a groundbreaking ceremony on November 5 for the $96 million Twinsburg Family Health & Surgery Center. The 190,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in 2011.

The new 147,244-square-foot Costco in Strongsville is scheduled to open next week. Meanwhile, specialty grocer Chandler & Rudd in Shaker Heights closed earlier this month after 145 years of business.

Materials from the recent All You Can Eat event are now available online, including a project gallery and video of the panel discussion.

A new report from Policy Matters Ohio examined the distribution patterns of transportation projects funded by federal stimulus dollars. One of its findings is that 63% of the funds distributed by the state's metropolitan planning organizations went to suburban and exurban projects. The report recommends reviewing decision-making processes to ensure that MPOs do not encourage urban sprawl.

The Earth Day Coalition highlighted the Cleveland Clinic's efforts to encourage bicycle commuting.

Chagrin Falls Village Council approved a zoning overlay for the proposed 11-unit residential development on West Orange Street. Some residents disagreed with the decision.

Update: the Chagrin Solon Sun has more information.

Steven Litt suggests that advocates of a bike lane for the new Innerbelt Bridge should hire an independent engineer to draft plans for a bridge that would include the bike lane.

In order to balance its 2010 budget, RTA leaders are considering additional service cuts and extending earlier temporary fare increases.

Update: WCPN has more details.

The board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority is being criticized for its silence about the departure of CEO Adam Wasserman and his $300,000 buyout. A Plain Dealer editorial says that "Wasserman's exit puts the onus for more transparency and accountability on the nine-member Port Authority board to which he supposedly answered."

Update: Channel 3's Tom Beres spoke with Cuyahoga County Commissioners Hagan and Jones.

Dangerous by Design, a new report from Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Project, examined pedestrian safety in American cities. It highlights the hazards of inadequate investment in pedestrian infrastructure and the need for better design. The Cleveland MSA was one of the safer large metropolitan areas for pedestrians.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch looked at the situation in Ohio.

The discussion on The Sound of Ideas this morning was about sustainable development and lessons that Cleveland can learn from other cities.

Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority President and CEO Adam Waserman stepped down today. The Port Authority board spent hours in closed-door meetings over the past week. Wasserman had held the post since 2007. Maritime Director Patrick Coyle resigned last month after only three months on the job. CFO Brent Leslie will oversee the Port until a new president is named.

Citing higher than anticipated costs, MMPI dropped its plans to renovate Public Auditorium and to use it and neighboring properties as the site of the planned Medical Mart. MMPI officials say they are considering multiple alternatives, but are focusing on building it on Mall C, also known as Strawbridge Plaza.

Update: the changes could also delay the project.

The Cleveland Downtown/Flats Design Review Committee approved changes to the design of the planned new Innerbelt Bridge on Thursday, and the Cleveland City Planning Commission discussed the plans today. Cyclists are not pleased with ODOT's treatment of bicycle lane issues.

Update: the Planning Commission criticized the plans for the new Innerbelt Bridge, but praised the designs for the pedestrian bridge at North Coast Harbor. GreenCityBlueLake continues to advocate for accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians.

The National Park Service completed (PDF) its environmental assessment for the proposed replacement of the Tinkers Creek Aqueduct in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It recommends the construction of a replacement aqueduct. The assessment's public comment period ends on November 29.

The City of Middleburg Heights will create a 24-hour railroad quiet zone at the Smith Road crossing.

Michael Scott of the Plain Dealer asks if the recommendations of the federal Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force will be good for the Great Lakes. An interim report it issued in September suggested the formation of a National Ocean Council.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will hold five public meetings this month (PDF) about the proposed regional stormwater district. The first meeting will be in Mayfield Heights at the DeJohn Community Center on November 9.

The Lorain County Commissioners hired Parsons Brinckerhoff to conduct a study of the proposed West Shore Corridor commuter rail line.

Now that Ohio voters have passed Issue 3, Dan Gilbert says that work on a downtown Cleveland casino could begin in fall 2010 and that it could open in 2012. He shared conceptual renderings of the casino in September. A Plain Dealer editorial makes suggestions for ways it could be leveraged to improve downtown.

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission is compiling a list of projects (PDF) for potential funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. It includes funding for the removal of two dams on the Cuyahoga River.

The City of Berea is using a streetside inspection program to assist in the enforcement of residential exterior maintenance requirements.

The City of Westlake razed the former Hubbs Motel on Center Ridge Road. There are no plans to immediately redevelop the site, which the City acquired as part of a settlement last year.

Election recap

Broadview Heights
Issue 12 (commercial rezoning): passed

Issue 17 (Planning Commission alternates): passed

Issue 83 (retail rezoning): passed

The proposed Olmsted Falls-Olmsted Township Merger Study Commission passed in Olmsted Falls (Issue 58), but failed in Olmsted Township (Issue 103).

For complete results, visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

The historic Tudor Arms in University Circle is under renovation and is scheduled to reopen as a 154-room Doubletree Hotel in spring 2011. It will also house a restaurant and 25,000 square feet of office space.

On November 10, Clean Fuels Ohio and the Levin College Forum will host a discussion about the future of transportation in Ohio.

John Austin of the Brookings Institution thinks that the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will be "a major shot in the arm" for the region's metropolitan areas. A Plain Dealer editorial called it "great news for the Great Lakes".

The City of Cleveland awarded $449,405 in Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland grants to 58 neighborhood projects (PDF). The awards were classified as greening, urban agriculture, and phytoremediation projects.

An industrial design class at the Cleveland Institute of Art is using a biomimicry approach for devising improvements to fish habitats in the lower Cuyahoga River.

On Friday, President Obama quietly signed the appropriations bill that included $475 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and $4 million for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Update: officials with the Trust for Public Land believe it will take several years to complete the Blossom land purchase.

The exterior renovation of the Bailey Building in downtown Lakewood began last week. The work is scheduled to finish in the spring.

Update: the Lakewood Observer and Sun Post-Herald have more details.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority recently posted two planning documents about the proposed redevelopment of the existing downtown port faculties. The Master Planning & Development for Cleveland's Downtown Lakefront (PDF, 46.6 MB) draft was led by Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects, and the Cleveland Waterfront Market Demand and Development Options (PDF, 4.2 MB) report was led by the PA Consulting Group.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded $6.25 million in grants from the Clean Ohio Trails Fund to 25 projects, including three in Cuyahoga County. Bedford Heights received $374,726 for the Richmond Road All-Purpose Trail, Cuyahoga Heights received $500,000 for the Cuyahoga Heights Multi-Use Trail, and the West Creek Preservation Committee received $103,125 for the O'Malley-Henninger Greenway.

Cleveland Area History is a new weblog that describes itself as having "an opinionated, vocal, approach to history, preservation, and related issues in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area."

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