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February 2010 Archives

Cuyahoga County and MMPI selected LMN Architects of Seattle to develop conceptual designs for the planned Medical Mart and new convention center in Cleveland. The company will create schematic and design development drawings, but will not be the project's architect of record. LMN will also oversee the construction manager to ensure quality and avoid cost overruns. Concurrently, a citizens group raised questions about the project's financing.

A USGS study of the northern United States found levels of chloride above the recommended federal criteria in more than 40% of the urban streams tested. The elevated levels, likely attributable to the use of road salt, are harmful to aquatic plant and animal life. An ODOT representative described it as a "tradeoff between our safety and the environment."

Today's Plain Dealer looked at some of Cleveland's overlooked architectural treasures, including the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Meanwhile, Cleveland Area History is working on a list of the 100 most significant landmarks in Cleveland.

Traffic congestion and travel times increased nationally in 2009, according to the annual Inrix National Traffic Scorecard. Congestion levels decreased in 2008 and reached their low point in spring 2009 before starting to rise again. The worst bottleneck in the Cleveland metropolitan area was the I-90 westbound interchange at Chester Avenue.

On Monday, Greater Ohio and the Brookings Institution unveiled the latest report in their Restoring Prosperity initiative. Titled "Transforming Ohio's Communities for the Next Economy", the report and executive summary (PDFs) lay out a policy agenda aimed at reinvigorating the state. It makes 39 short, medium, and long-term policy recommendations in three main areas: building on assets in Ohio's metropolitan areas, reforming state and local governments, and engaging and aligning with the federal government. One of its more discussed recommendations calls for consolidating Ohio school districts. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the report "belongs at the center of this campaign year", and a Morning Journal editorial said that its "recommendations deserve careful consideration and study."

Update: the Plain Dealer was also encouraged by the report.

A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge voided the sheriff's sale of the Cleveland Cold Storage building. The Ohio Department of Transportation still intends to demolish the building to make way for the planned new Innerbelt Bridge, but now may have to pay a higher price in its eminent domain acquisition.

Shaker Heights officials and John Carroll University administrators reached an agreement that establishes rules for off-campus student housing at Fairmount Circle over the next three years. The City had been considering zoning restrictions on the number of student-occupied units.

Update: a Sun Press editorial says that the agreement is good for both sides.

A Public Square redesign proposal from Neil Mohney of Forest City calls for closing the portions of Ontario Street and Superior Avenue in the square. He hopes to expand the dialogue to include ideas beyond the three concepts prepared by Field Operations.

Solon City Council sent the proposed Brainard Road warehouse rezoning to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. The issue will appear on the May 4 ballot.

The U.S. EPA unveiled an action plan for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. It's the final version of a document that was released in December. It describes how federal agencies intend to implement the GLRI from 2010 through 2014, and identifies goals and actions that will be taken in five major focus areas. A New York Times editorial concluded that "the lakes' restoration will depend on strong and sustained political leadership."

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that "the priorities established in the proposal ring true."

The Plain Dealer looked at the U.S. EPA study of PFC discharges in the wastewater of electroplating companies in Cleveland and Chicago. The Chicago Tribune reported on the subject last month.

Architect and real estate investor Richard Bowen wants to redevelop the former Key Gas Components facility as a $35 million mixed-use project. The development near Chester Avenue and East 66th Street in Cleveland's Midtown neighborhood would include a 70,000-square-foot medical office building, 150 senior housing units, 14,000 square feet of retail space, and two restaurants. The City of Cleveland is applying for a $191,947 Clean Ohio Assistance Fund grant that would help fund a Phase II environmental site assessment (PDF) and an asbestos survey.

Cleveland City Councilman Michael Polensek introduced legislation that calls for transferring control of lakefront parks in Cleveland to the Cleveland Metroparks. The parks are currently operated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Cuyahoga County, and the port authority. Cleveland Lakefront State Park is owned by the City but leased to the state until 2028. Probate Judge Anthony Russo has also advocated for more involvement by the Metroparks.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial supports the proposal.

The first phase of the Cedar Center redevelopment in South Euclid will include 49 units of senior housing in four stories above one story of retail space.

The City of Strongsville is seeking approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the second phase of the Foltz Parkway extension project. It involves filling streams and wetlands for a planned expansion of the Strongsville Business & Technology Park.

The Ohio Turnpike published the results (PDF) of its noise mitigation pilot project. The study found that the T-top concrete noise walls installed in Berea were more effective than the median-mounted acoustic panels tested in Strongsville. The Turnpike Commission will consider the findings and decide its next steps.

Parma City Council approved a rezoning that will allow the construction of the planned senior housing development on State Road. It's the first time the City has used its new mixed-use zoning classification.

Attorney Richard Knoth, the vice chair of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority board, wrote a memo (PDF) that calls for closing Burke Lakefront Airport and relocating the port facilities to the site. Frank Jackson said Burke will remain open and that he remains committed to the East 55th Street port relocation plan. A Plain Dealer editorial says that "Cleveland needs all options on the table".

Ohio Senate President Bill Harris is skeptical about the value of the 3C Corridor and recently sent Governor Strickland a seven-page letter with questions about the planned passenger rail line. Republicans on the state controlling board may try to block the plans. Michael Douglas of the Akron Beacon Journal encourages Ohioans to think "less about today and more about what they will need in a decade and beyond."

The City of Lakewood posted the Birdtown Action Plan (PDF), a comprehensive plan prepared by a group of Cleveland State graduate students. An earlier version of the plan for the southeastern Lakewood neighborhood was called the Birdtown Flight Plan.

Northeast Ohio governments have so far submitted five projects in the second round of the EfficientGovNow program. The application deadline is February 26. Journalist Bob Paynter will be writing about the process.

Pepper Pike City Council did not accept an amended development plan for the Pointe at Sterling Lakes residential development. Developer Forest City wanted to decrease the size and increase the number of townhouse units in the gated subdivision.

A new report from the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked health outcomes and health factors in the United States by county for each state. In Ohio, Geauga and Medina counties were among the state's healthiest. Cuyahoga County ranked highly in clinical care, but poorly in morbidity, social and economic factors, and physical environment.

Update: the report was the subject of a Sound of Ideas program on WCPN.

Orange Village Council approved a set of sustainable building guidelines for new construction. The voluntary Orange Goes Green Certification Program provides standards tailored for Northeast Ohio's conditions.

Update: the Chagrin Solon Sun has more details.

The City of Brooklyn's landfill may have exceeded its capacity and could be permanently shut down by the Ohio EPA. It is the last active municipal solid waste landfill in Cuyahoga County.

The Greater Cleveland RTA's board of trustees approved the revised 2010 budget. It includes service cutbacks, workforce reductions, and it made permanent earlier temporary fare increases.

The Plain Dealer highlighted claims that the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority leadership needs more representation from maritime interests.

In the wake of last month's West 83rd Street house explosion, a Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland's abandoned houses need more attention.

Workers have resumed construction of the townhouse portion of the former Ashbury Towers development in Cleveland's Stockyards neighborhood.

The City of Cleveland may give the 470-acre Seneca Golf Course and 125 acres of neighboring greenspace to the Cleveland Metroparks. An agreement on the site in Brecksville and Broadview Heights would have to be approved by Cleveland City Council and the Metroparks Board of Park Commissioners.

A Plain Dealer editorial urges the Ohio Department of Transportation to consider a multipurpose lane on the planned new Innerbelt Bridge, calling the department's responses "bureaucratic runaround."

Cleveland and Cuyahoga County officials are willing to discuss a possible merger of Burke Lakefront Airport and Cuyahoga County Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration wants both airports to remain open. Meanwhile, County Airport staff is considering alternatives to the airport's master plan.

Update: Cuyahoga County Economic Development Director Paul Oyaski does not support closing Cuyahoga County Airport.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has an update on the rescue and renaissance of the Cozad-Bates House in University Circle.

While many communities are using their federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants to rehabilitate foreclosed homes, the majority of the local $40.8 million award will be used to demolish abandoned houses.

(via Community Research Partners)

The City of Cleveland hired Princeton Environmental Group to design a 20-megawatt waste-to-energy power plant for the Ridge Road Transfer Station. The small company will relocate to Cleveland and begin work. The plant would be the first in the nation to employ the gasification technology.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial calls the project "a practical example of sustainability".

This year, Case Western Reserve University's Regionally Speaking programs will focus on the partnership between the university's Social Justice Alliance and Institute and the City of East Cleveland. Sunday's Plain Dealer examined new East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton's plans to revive his community.

HiVelocity interviewed Andrew Watterson, the City of Cleveland's Chief of Sustainability.

The U.S. Census Bureau classified much of Cleveland as a "hard to count" (PDF) area for the 2010 Census. One of the Bureau's Portrait of America Road Tour vehicles is visiting locations in Northeast Ohio.

The Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force will count migrating birds and bats around the area of the planned offshore wind farm pilot project north of downtown Cleveland. The group also wants to establish a partnership with a turbine manufacturer.

Eaton shared a rendering of the headquarters building for its planned 53-acre campus at the Chagrin Highlands in Beachwood. The company plans to begin building the 470,000-square-foot structure in early 2011.

Trail users provided input at public open houses last week for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park's trail management plan.

An RTA board committee yesterday approved service cuts that will eliminate 12% of the agency's bus routes. Some of the changes were modified in response to comments made at last month's public hearings. The reductions will be implemented on April 4.

Update: RTA listed the revisions to the service changes.

The recession has slowed the planned $500 million residential redevelopment of the Cleveland Quarries site in Lorain County. Industrial Realty Group leaders say that they remain committed to the Quarries at Beaver Creek.

An article in this week's Scene is critical of the plans for the Opportunity Corridor. Residents in Cleveland's Forgotten Triangle do not think it will help their neighborhood.

On Friday and Saturday, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland held MOCAmentum, an invitation-only Appreciative Inquiry summit. The museum has raised most of the funds needed for its planned new University Circle building, and may unveil Farshid Moussavi's architectural plans in late March.

Frank Jackson named Paul Hoogenboom (PDF) of RPM International in Medina to fill one of the two vacant seats on the board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. A Plain Dealer editorial says that Mayor "Jackson needs to find someone with extensive maritime experience" to fill the remaining vacancy.

Lillian Kuri spoke at the Foundation Center about her planning work with the Cleveland Foundation and Cleveland Public Art.

The 79 mph top speed of the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line continues to attract criticism. The line also faces potential conflicts with increasing freight rail traffic. Columnists Brent Larkin of the Plain Dealer, Joe Hallett of the Columbus Dispatch and Brian Tucker of Crain's Cleveland Business are opposed to the project. A Plain Dealer editorial said that the concept needs to change, while a Mansfield News Journal editorial said that the "project may be worth the financial risk." Governor Strickland called the critics "cheerleaders for failure."

Update: columnist Thomas Suddes and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial considered the longer-term implications.

In conjunction with the planned reconfiguration of the Warrensville-Van Aken intersection in Shaker Heights, RTA is revisiting its plans to extend the Blue Line corridor into southeastern Cuyahoga County. The study area of the Blue Line Corridor Extension Study includes all or parts of 10 municipalities. RTA will hold a public meeting on February 22 at the Warrensville Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, and has a Blue Line Extension Analysis Survey.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial notes that the study's timing is awkward.

Huron Hospital plans to build a $20–30 million expansion of its East Cleveland campus. The hospital will formally announce the expansion along Euclid Avenue later this year.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial called the expansion a "statement of Huron's continued commitment to the community it has served since 1874 -- and as a vote of confidence in East Cleveland's future."

The City of Brunswick will use $16 million in federal Recovery Zone bonds for a $114 million, 83-acre retail development at I-71 and State Route 303. It will include "the only Northeast Ohio store for a renowned national outdoor retailer." City officials did not identify the company, but previously had been in negotiations with Cabela's.

Update: the Brunswick Sun has more details.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial on Ohio mercury rules concludes that "the state EPA must do all that it can to curb the presence of mercury. It runs into trouble when it sets standards and then must admit the tools aren't available to get there."

Downtown Cleveland property owners voted to renew the Downtown Cleveland Special Improvement District for a second five-year period. Cleveland City Council must also pass reauthorization legislation to extend the SID through 2015.

The restoration of Cleveland's Playhouse Square began 40 years ago today when Ray Shepardson first visited the State Theatre.

North Olmsted City Council is considering ordinances that would amend the City's zoning code to allow businesses and homeowners to install wind turbines and solar panels.

The cities of South Euclid and University Heights are collaborating on the Nine Mile Creek Green Street Project, an effort to improve water quality and reduce runoff by installing stormwater bioretention cells.

About 90 people attended the community meeting about the future of the Oakwood Club in Cleveland Heights. Nine attendees formed a steering committee that will look at ways to preserve the property as greenspace.

Update: the Sun News has more details about the meeting.

Contributors to Virgina Tech's Shrinking Cities weblog have been considering potential uses for the lower deck of the Detroit-Superior Bridge. Austin Watkins shared his thoughts last month, and yesterday, Michael Hill added his opinions.

The Cultural Landscape Foundation says that the "thread" concept for Cleveland's Public Square is both picturesque and modern, and that it demonstrates "a shared value design ethic".

(via ClevelandDesignCity)

A U.S. District Court judge ruled that an Ohio pollution exemption for small businesses was in violation of the federal Clean Air Act. A 2006 state law allowed establishments that emitted fewer than 10 tons of air pollutants per year to use less than the best-available emission-reduction technology, but the state never received U.S. EPA approval to change the standards.

Update: Joe Koncelik shared his reactions.

WKSU looked at biomimicry initiatives across Northeast Ohio. Jeff St. Clair spoke with Biomimicry Guild co-founder Janine Benyus, among others.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners approved a $15.2 million option for the purchase of the 113 St. Clair office building and Justice Center Parking Garage. Negotiations are ongoing for the purchase of the Sportsman deli, which would be the last property acquisition for the planned Medical Mart. The Commissioners also announced that they will use the County's entire $64.1 million Recovery Zone Facility Bond allocation for the project.

Cleveland Director of Port Control Ricky Smith proposed closing Cuyahoga County Airport and consolidating service at Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport. Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones said he'd consider the idea.

The Solon Planning Commission approved Transcon Builders' plans to develop Hawthorne Valley Country Club as the Hawthorne Estates subdivision.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a two-day Cleveland Harbor dredging summit (PDF) earlier this week.

Participants on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line and the Cleveland Design Competition awards.

The Medical Mart and convention center project in Cleveland will include severing Public Auditorium from the complex. The City of Cleveland will invest $5 million in upgrades to Public Auditorium, and Cuyahoga County will demolish a 1964 addition, restore its west face, and remove the ramp on the east side of the Mall. MMPI is still targeting an October groundbreaking.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority laid off two more employees: Sustainability Manager Pam Davis and Human Resources Director Nancy Spelman.

The announcement that Ohio was awarded $400 million for the planned 3C Corridor generated a wide variety of reactions, from the enthusiastic to the skeptical. Ohio newspapers also had a broad range of responses. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial was generally positive, the Columbus Dispatch said that investments in passenger rail are a poor use of federal dollars, and the Canton Repository laid out its hopes for the project.

The winners of the 2009 Cleveland Design Competition were announced on Friday. First prize went to Mario Caceres and Christian Canonico of Montrouge, France; second prize went to Pepijn van Voorst of The Hague; and third prize went to Russell Collin of London.

Development of the Shores of Edgecliff project has not progressed as Euclid leaders hoped it would. The residential lakefront development remains unfinished, and two homeowners are suing the Coral Co., its developer.

The Plain Dealer explored the reasons behind the Cleveland Foundation's decision to greatly reduce its contributions to the Fund for Our Economic Future and the choice's subsequent repercussions. Brent Larkin thinks that the decision was harmful to regional collaboration.

The 2010 Baldwin-Wallace Sustainability Symposium will be held on March 1 and 2. The title of this year's symposium is "Carbon Footprints – How Can We Transform Our Tomorrow?" The event is free and open to the public.

A U.S. EPA study of electroplating facilities (PDF) in Cleveland and Chicago found that they were discharging high levels of PFCs in their wastewater. The emissions are permitted under a 2007 Bush administration exemption for the factories.

(via Great Lakes Echo)

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