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January 2010 Archives

The planned I-90 interchange (PDF) at Nagel Road in Avon was one of five Ohio highway projects placed on an accelerated timetable by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Construction is now scheduled to begin in 2011 and end in late 2012, about a year earlier than originally planned.

The discussion on this morning's Sound of Ideas program was about ODOT's plans for the Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland. The guests were Cleveland City Planning Director Bob Brown, Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer, ODOT District 12 Deputy Director Bonnie Teeuwen, and CPC Director Paul Alsenas.

Brian Zimmerman of Milwaukee was selected to succeed Vern Hartenburg as executive director of the Cleveland Metroparks. He's scheduled to start work in March.

The 144-acre Oakwood Club property in Cleveland Heights is up for sale, with an asking price of approximately $6 million. The area is zoned for single-family housing, and a Sun News editorial says that the site should remain as greenspace. A community meeting about the property will take place on February 3.

Mayor Jackson reappointed Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority Chairman Steven Williams to another four-year term, but board member Rose Rodriguez-Bardwell chose not to seek reappointment. Board member Brian Hall is also stepping down (PDF).

Fast Track Cycling announced today that it has entered into a purchase agreement with the City of Cleveland for the nine-acre St. Michael Hospital site in Slavic Village. The nonprofit plans to build a $6.5 million velodrome complex on the property at Broadway and McBride Avenues, and will spend the next six to 12 months raising funds for the project.

Update: Channel 5 has more details.

On February 11, the Levin College Forum and the First Suburbs Consortium will host the Cleveland premiere of The New Metropolis, a two-part documentary series on America's inner-ring suburbs. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion.

The New Republic looked at the public transit cuts in Lorain County and their impacts on the unemployed and underemployed.

Planners of the proposed aerotropolis around Cleveland Hopkins International Airport began receiving feedback at the first of the aerotropolis stakeholder sessions yesterday.

A report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that the former Harshaw Chemical site in Cleveland remains contaminated by radiation, but not at levels that would prevent passive recreation. The site had been considered for a potential leg of the Towpath Trail extension. Cleanup could take as many as five years.

The Cleveland Landmarks Commission recommended designating six additional Catholic churches as Cleveland landmarks. Four of the six are slated to close as part of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese's consolidation program. Diocesan officials are not pleased.

The Ohio House approved language that would reduce the speed limit on Cleveland's West Shoreway from 50 to 35 mph. It's part of the plans to convert the highway to a boulevard. City leaders are working to obtain funding for the project's second phase.

Officials in Brecksville, Broadview Heights, and North Royalton have begun to seek funding for an extension of the Valley Parkway Trail through their communities. A trail alignment study (PDF, 35.6 MB), funded by a TLCI grant, was completed last year. It identified three alignment options.

Last Friday, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell held a hearing on the Cleveland Cold Storage building ownership dispute. ODOT intends to demolish the building for the new Innerbelt Bridge. Also on Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved a resolution of support for bicycle and pedestrian access on the new bridge.

Update: on Feagler & Friends, Dan Moulthrop spoke with ODOT District 12 Deputy Director Bonnie Teeuwen about the bridge plans.

Participants in the third annual Cleveland Design Competition devised plans for a multi-modal transportation center for the north end of the Mall in downtown Cleveland. The submissions were recently judged, and the winners will be announced on Friday. Steven Litt provides an advanced look at a couple of the entries.

More than 100 people attended a Levin College Forum on Thursday to learn more about the Public Square redesign concepts. Jeremy Borger summarized the event and shared his thoughts.

The Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland and Cleveland State University continue to pursue plans to create an immigrant welcome center in downtown Cleveland.

On Thursday, Ned Hill of Cleveland State University, Joe Marinucci of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, and Cleve Ricksecker of Capital Crossroads Columbus discussed the state of downtown Cleveland at the City Club (MP3, 53.1 MB). It was the fourth event in the Downtown Quarterly Series.

The proposed senior housing development on State Road in Parma includes two 50-unit apartment buildings and 12 duplexes. Franciscan Communities hopes to begin construction in 2011.

Developer Fred Rzepka of TransCon Builders presented the Solon Planning Commission with plans for a 211-acre subdivision on the site of Hawthorne Valley Country Club. Hawthorne Estates would consist of 111 single-family houses. Earlier proposals for senior housing at the site were turned down by voters.

A new report from the Brookings Institution shows the growth in suburban poverty between 2000 and 2008. Poverty levels in the suburbs of the nation's largest metropolitan areas increased almost five times faster than the levels of core cities. The unemployment rate also rose more quickly in the suburbs. In the Cleveland metro area, the share of the poor living in the suburbs grew by 9.3%, the second-largest increase in the nation. An earlier report examined the changes from 1999 to 2005.

Update: WKSU's Jeff St. Clair interviewed Elizabeth Kneebone, the report's author.

Participants on yesterday's Sound of Ideas program discussed investments in public spaces, focusing on the concepts for redesigning Cleveland's Public Square. The page also includes an interview with architect Peter van Dijk about the restoration of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Public Square.

At its first meeting (PDF) of the year, the board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority today set its priorities for 2010. The board also approved $34.8 million in bonds for the Flats east bank project. Board member Rose Rodriguez-Bardwell was recently fired from her position at the Spanish American Committee, and the Plain Dealer again urged Mayor Jackson to replace Rodriguez-Bardwell and Chairman Steven Williams when their terms expire on January 28.

Update: the Plain Dealer found the meeting encouraging.

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency used federal stimulus funds to approve more than $53 million in tax credits. Three projects in Cuyahoga County were among the recipients: Emerald Alliance V on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Independence Place at the Prospect Avenue YWCA in Cleveland, and the Library Court senior housing development on Chagrin Boulevard in Shaker Heights.

Ohio Department of Transportation officials recently presented (PDF) the scope and criteria for the planned new Innerbelt Bridge to potential contractors, engineers, and designers. The agency is seeking a simple girder or box design, and will select three design-build teams in March. ODOT will provide a $1 million stipend to each of the two non-winning finalists.

Steven Litt critiqued the design of the new Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center building (PDF) on Euclid Avenue in University Circle. He said that the "four-story building is a strong urban presence" and that "Bostwick designed the building as a contributor to an evolving neighborhood, not a stand-alone star."

The City of Shaker Heights has secured the $11.5 million needed for the planned reconfiguration of the six-way intersection at Warrensville Center Road and Van Aken Boulevard. Construction is slated to begin in about two years. The City will provide updates at a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Community Building.

Area communities reacted differently to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's new stormwater management program. Mayor Cicero of Lyndhurst was disappointed, and the City of Hudson may join Summit County's lawsuit against the sewer district. Mayor Elliott of Brook Park, on the other hand, thinks the program will help the city alleviate and prevent flooding problems. David Beach called it "one of the most important developments for local water quality that I have seen in the past 25 years."

The Cleveland Metroparks commissioners, including new Commissioner Bruce Rinker, have narrowed the list of prospective new executive directors to three. Current Executive Director Vern Hartenburg announced his retirement last September.

The Solon Planning Commission is considering a zoning proposal for a Brainard Road warehouse district. Voters may decide the matter (PDF) in May.

Update: the Planning Commission approved the proposal.

The transportation engineers working on a proposal to redesign the I-77 interchange at Route 82 in Broadview Heights may modify their plans.

Greater Cleveland residents have the opportunity to share their opinions at several meetings:

Update: Scene and the Plain Dealer have more information about FirstEnergy's request. Channel 3 reported on the Harshaw site findings. The News Sun shared details about the aerotropolis meetings.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $2 billion in the second round of Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants. Ohio governments received $175 million, and $40.8 million of that went to a consortium (PDF) led by the Cuyahoga County Land Revitalization Corporation. The land bank will invest the funds in 15 Cleveland neighborhoods and parts of five inner-ring suburbs.

The latest revisions of the plans for the redevelopment of the South Euclid side of Cedar Center include additional retail space, increased greenspace, and shifting three buildings closer to Cedar Road.

Henry Ross, founder of Gardenview Horticultural Park in Strongsville, established an endowment designed to secure the 16-acre park's future.

The Cleveland Landmarks Commission today approved designs for the hotel and office tower that is part of the Flats east bank development. Renderings and floor plans are available at the meeting agenda.

The owner of the assisted-living Mount Alverna Villages on State Road in Parma wants to build a senior housing development adjacent to it.

At a Levin College Forum on January 21, landscape architect James Corner will present the three conceptual designs for Cleveland's Public Square. Also on the 21st, the City Club will host a panel discussion about the state of downtown Cleveland. On January 29, a Levin College Forum will discuss the 2010 Census.

The Compact with Ohio Cities Task Force, a 29-member group chaired by Ohio Representative Mike Foley, unveiled a report that recommends state policy changes (PDF) to foster smart growth and redevelopment. The task force's primary conclusion was that "the existing paradigm of single-jurisdictional planning is not only antiquated, but also harmful to every community in Ohio." Its list of recommendations includes restructuring tax incentive programs and allowing municipalities to jointly establish transportation innovation authorities.

The Lorain County Commissioners approved proposed changes to Lorain County Transit bus service. They cut the number of fixed routes from 12 to two, reduced their frequency to once every two hours, scaled back the hours of operation, and eliminated Saturday service. They also increased the base fare from $2.05 to $2.20. A Morning Journal editorial says that "it's better than no bus service at all."

Last Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved public art and signage designs for the Bike Rack, the planned bicycle station at the Gateway North parking garage.

The Plain Dealer asked if Cleveland still needs a port authority. It looked at the arguments for retaining the port authority and the arguments for dismantling it.

A study released (PDF) by the Municipality of Bayham, Ontario examined the feasibility of ferry service between Bayham and four potential ports on the American side of Lake Erie: Ashtabula, Cleveland, Fairport Harbor, and Erie, Pennsylvania. It concluded that Cleveland and Fairport Harbor were the most promising destinations, but that while "service is feasible, it must be viewed as speculative."

Update: Bayham Council decided to cancel the second phase of the study.

Plans for the Medical Mart in Cleveland have shifted back to the original site, away from the proposal to build at Mall C. The latest plans call for building the medical products showcase at the northeast corner of St. Clair Avenue and Ontario Street, on the site of the privately-owned Justice Center Parking Garage, Sportsman deli, and 113 St. Clair office building, as well as the county-owned Chicago Title Building and Administration Building Annex. The County will not purchase Public Auditorium from the City, but a portion of the $20 million from the convention center purchase will be used for upgrades of Public Auditorium. Steven Litt said that the Mall is at risk of becoming an afterthought, and that it should be "rebuilt according to the highest possible standards."

In addition, the County reached a construction administration agreement with developer MMPI. The agreement provides new protections for taxpayers and sets rules for construction contracting. An October groundbreaking is possible. Cleveland Magazine's Erick Trickey summarized the recent events. In New York City, developers of the competing World Product Centre accelerated their timetable by announcing plans to withdraw from a proposed 60-story skyscraper and lease up to 350,000 square feet of existing space.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial calls it "a good way to start the year."

On Thursday, the board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District unanimously approved the new stormwater management program. The district has identified more than $220 million of critical stormwater projects, which will be financed by the new impervious surface fee. Once the board adopted the plan, NEORSD asked the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to confirm the district's authority to implement the plan.

The U.S. EPA proposed tougher new standards for ground-level ozone that would replace standards set by the Bush administration in March 2008. The proposal calls for new standards between 60 and 70 parts per billion, down from the 75 parts per billion standard adopted in 2008. Northeast Ohio, which last year attained compliance with the 1997 standard (80 ppb), would not meet the new standard. Much of the rest of the state would also be in noncompliance, and the major metropolitan areas may have difficulty reaching the lower levels.

On Friday, Tom Waltermire of Team NEO and Brad Whitehead of the Fund for our Economic Future spoke at the City Club about economic forecasting over the next decade. Plain Dealer Editor Susan Goldberg moderated the discussion. They stressed that greater collaboration could increase opportunities for economic growth.

The City of Bay Village will assemble a steering committee tasked with revisiting the City's 1999 master plan. An update could contain plans for sustainable development.

Members of Oakwood Club and Mayfield Sand Ridge Club voted to combine the two country clubs. The 144-acre Oakwood Club property in Cleveland Heights will be put up for sale. The nearby Acacia Country Club property in Lyndhurst may also be available.

Greater Ohio will relaunch the ReBuild Ohio program. The organization will "work to refocus ReBuild Ohio's efforts to address Ohio's growing vacant and abandoned property problem through state-level reforms". Participants discuss related issues at the ReBuild Ohio Vacant Property Forum.

The former Wal-Mart store at City View Center in Garfield Heights will reopen next month as the Cuyahoga Convention Center. The struggling shopping center lost another tenant last week, when its Dick's Sporting Goods store closed. A similar convention facility will open in Euclid later this month.

About 1,000 people attended the 10 public hearings held by RTA last week to share their thoughts about the agency's proposed service changes. RTA is accepting comments until January 21, and will finalize the changes around March 1.

American Greetings has started to consider relocating its corporate headquarters from its Brooklyn campus. A corporate spokesperson said that the company is looking at all of its options, including those outside of Northeast Ohio. The company is studying the relocation because Brooklyn voters approved a 0.5% income tax increase last May.

Update: Governor Strickland and other state officials met with American Greetings leaders to encourage them to stay in Greater Cleveland. Mayor Balbier of Brooklyn said he will fight to keep the company in town.

Officials in Lakewood and in several Cleveland neighborhoods are working with RTA to identify potential routes for its new Weekly Shopper Service.

Despite a reduction in support from the Cleveland Foundation, the Fund for Our Economic Future is proceeding with plans for its third phase, and recently received a $3 million grant from the Knight Foundation to support local government reform efforts. The Fund also launched round two the the EfficientGovNow program yesterday. Local governments have until February 26 to submit a proposal for a collaborative project for the competition. The Fund listed 10 ways that residents can support the program.

Update: the Fund shared more information about the Knight Foundation grant.

At a public meeting yesterday, consultants from TranSystem discussed the proposed redesign of the I-77 interchange at Route 82 in Broadview Heights.

Streetsboro City Council unanimously voted to adopt a new master plan. It was prepared by Bird Houk Collaborative over a 10-month period.

Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eugene Sanders unveiled the district's transformation plan yesterday. Among other recommendations, it calls for closing 18 schools due to declining enrollment, including East and South high schools. The district will hold a series of community meetings (PDF) this month, and its board is scheduled to vote on the plan on February 23.

A Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority committee recommended approval of $34.8 million in bonds for the Flats east bank project. The full board will consider the matter at its January 20th meeting.

A Plain Dealer article says that we have "entered the decade of the Super Region." Richard Longworth of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs says it makes sense for neighboring metropolitan areas to work together. Others, especially Aaron Renn, approach the concept of megaregions with more skepticism. Governing's Alan Ehrenhalt thinks that their value has been overstated.

At the first of this week's public hearings, RTA riders shared their displeasure about the proposed service reductions. RTA has proposed cutting 12% of its routes in order to balance its budget. The public hearings will continue through Thursday.

Richard Moe, the outgoing president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, encourages shrinking cities to act carefully when approaching the issues associated with population loss. He says that the process "should be carried out in the context of a carefully conceived master plan -- one that encourages input from all stakeholders and takes into account a range of considerations, including the historic value of the housing stock, in determining what stays and what must go."

Mandy Metcalf believes that the best solutions for redesigning Cleveland's Public Square involve the closing of Ontario Street and Superior Avenue in the square.

With the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District expected to vote on the proposed stormwater management program on Thursday, the Summit County prosecutor asked a court to issue a permanent injunction against any fees. Leaders in outer-ring Cuyahoga County suburbs also dislike the proposal. NEORSD Executive Director Julius Ciaccia discussed the approach on Channel 3's Between the Lines.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal and WKSU have more details. Joe Koncelik considered the implications of the proposed regulations.

A Plain Dealer editorial looks at the next steps in building the Lake Link Trail in Cleveland.

A Plain Dealer editorial about Cleveland's Campus District concludes that "it's an ambitious to-do list for a group that still has to sell a vision to its own stakeholders, then to City Hall, potential funders and the broader community. But given the opportunities that exist in the area and the need for bold thinking in Cleveland, it's also a refreshing agenda for a new year."

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