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March 2010 Archives

The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation issued a request for proposals from developers interested in constructing an offshore pilot wind farm near downtown Cleveland. LEEDCo hopes to select a company in May and have the wind turbines operating by late 2012. Sherrod Brown and Ted Strickland are backing federal and state legislation that would support research and create tax incentives for wind power.

The Ohio Department of Transportation installed its first three Greater Cleveland traffic cameras as part of its introduction of Intelligent Transportation System technologies. The webcams are available at Buckeye Traffic.

A grant from the Ohio & Erie Canalway Association will fund the fourth year of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad's Bike Aboard program in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The program drew a record 21,500 cyclists in 2009.

A study that Baldwin-Wallace College prepared for Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, and Pepper Pike says that the communities could save money by by consolidating their police, dispatch services, and service departments. The mayors of Moreland Hills, Orange, and Pepper Pike are willing to consider municipal mergers, and hope to obtain an EfficientGovNow grant to study the possibility. A Chagrin Solon Sun editorial said that the idea is worth considering.

Last week, the Ohio General Assembly passed a bill that will revise the state's oil and gas drilling laws. Citizen activists were unsatisfied by the lack of consumer protections in the law, which did not return local control over drilling. The legislature also approved a bill that will allow more than 30 counties to establish land banks like the one in Cuyahoga County. Governor Strickland is expected to sign both bills.

Update: a Chagrin Solon Sun editorial says that the changes in the drilling law "don't go far enough in protecting residents from potential disasters."

At its meeting on Monday, Cleveland City Council approved a resolution urging the Ohio Department of Transportation to include a multipurpose lane on the planned new Innerbelt Bridge. However, that attitude is not shared by all local politicians, as Steven LaTourette ridiculed Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's recent announcement that we have reached "the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized."

Meanwhile, ODOT announced the finalists to design and build the new bridge. The three competing teams will submit technical and price proposals in August, and ODOT will choose the winner in September. GreenCityBlueLake considered what may come next.

The U.S. Census Bureau's annual county population estimates say that Cuyahoga County's population fell by 7,171 people between July 2008 and July 2009. The decrease of 0.56% was smaller than in previous years, but Cleveland State's Tom Bier believes that outmigration will increase once the economy improves. The eight-county Cleveland CSA lost an estimated 2,990 residents over the same period. Many of the decade's fastest-growing counties were in Texas.

Update: the Plain Dealer looked at the trends.

Organizers of the EfficientGovNow program disqualified 19 of the submitted abstracts, and the backers of the 31 remaining projects will be invited to submit final proposals.

Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program was devoted to a discussion of stormwater and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's contentious stormwater management program. At GreenCityBlueLake, Marc Lefkowitz says that "we should give the new stormwater program a chance."

By a vote of 5-1, Middleburg Heights City Council rejected a proposed wind turbine at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds.

The Cleveland Foundation's latest round of awards includes grants to WIRE-Net, Neighborhood Progress Inc., the Cleveland Housing Network, and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

Update: the Plain Dealer offers more information.

In its written comments (PDF) to the U.S. EPA, the Ohio EPA objected to a federal proposal to tighten ozone standards, saying that the agency prefers the standards set by the Bush administration in 2008. Business groups were pleased and environmental organizations were disappointed.

Update: the Plain Dealer has additional details, and an editorial says that lowering ozone levels is an unrealistic goal.

The landmark Euclid Avenue Congregational Church in Cleveland was destroyed by an early Tuesday morning fire. The cause is not known, but a lightning strike is suspected. The blaze left the sandstone walls standing, but fire inspectors deemed them too unstable and the remains are being demolished.

Update: Cleveland Area History asks if it would have been possible to preserve part of the church. A few elements were saved.

Update 2: Lightning was confirmed as the cause of the fire.

Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority Interim CEO Peter Raskind and Vice Chairman Robert Smith were the guests on Monday's Sound of Ideas program.

Author Richard Herman asserted that "immigration provides the only way for cities like Cleveland to generate the kind of numbers needed to make up for decades of mass out-migration." NEOtropolis explored some of the concepts of his book, and this week's issue of Scene made similar points. A recent Plain Dealer editorial urged local leaders to open an international welcome center.

Local birders would like downtown Cleveland property owners to dim their building lights during the spring and fall to reduce collisions with migrating songbirds.

Update: columnist Connie Schultz likes the idea.

The March issue of Cleveland Magazine describes the extent of the challenges posed by abandoned houses in Cuyahoga County.

The first Greater Cleveland Trails & Greenways Conference will take place on June 7 in Middleburg Heights. Registration opens on April 12.

The Temple–Tifereth Israel and Case Western Reserve University announced that the congregation's historic University Circle synagogue will be renovated as the Milton and Tamar Maltz Center for Performing Arts. It will be the home of the University's performing arts programs, while continuing to serve as a place of worship on holidays and other occasions. The Maltz Family Foundation donated $12 million for the $25.6 million project.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial calls it "a win-win -- and then some."

The City of Cleveland's Vacant Property Initiative supplies funding to help property owners redevelop vacant or underutilized buildings and lots. Since 2008, the City has awarded more than $21 million in loans through the program.

Steven Litt says that the Circle 118 townhouses at Euclid Avenue and East 118th Street have "brightened a once dreary corner" in University Circle. When completed, the development will have 17 units.

Chagrin Falls Village Council voted to accept a $68,000 TLCI grant for the Chagrin Falls Region Alternative Transportation Study. The $85,000 study will be conducted by Behnke Associates.

At its meeting on Wednesday, the board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority reappointed Chairman Steven Williams, but did not reappoint Vice Chairman Richard Knoth. Robert Smith was selected to replace him. Much of the meeting was conducted in private, and a Plain Dealer editorial again urges the board to be less secretive.

The Ohio Department of Transportation issued its response to Ohio Senate President Bill Harris' questions about the planned 3C Corridor in a 21-page document (PDF). It presents reasoning in favor of the planned passenger rail line, and the Ohio Environmental Council backs the proposal (PDF). Senator Harris remains skeptical about the value of the line.

Part three of the libertarian Reason Foundation's series on Cleveland urges privatization of municipal resources. Part four is about the City's business climate, while part five covers big-ticket developments and land use policy, and part six is about attracting residents. In a companion piece, Samuel Staley of the Reason Foundation called for reducing land use controls, while libertarian pundit John Stossel echoed many of the pronouncements of the series. Scene editor Frank Lewis did not accept its conclusions, and referred to the series as "elaborate campaign commercials, selling an ideology instead of a candidate."

The Cleveland Rowing Foundation, with assistance from the Trust for Public Land, is nearing an agreement to purchase the former Commodore's Club Marina on the Columbus Road Peninsula for its proposed Rivergate Park. The group has raised $1.9 million of the $3.2 million needed to buy the seven-acre property, and the deadline has been extended to July 31. Mayor Jackson wants the City of Cleveland to offer a $300,000 low-interest loan for the acquisition.

RTA's first Weekly Shopper Service will serve Lakewood and Cleveland's Clifton-Detroit neighborhood. The route, a successor to the canceled community circulator, will operate on Fridays and will begin on March 26. RTA is paying for half of the route's costs, and the two cities will supply the other half.

In the second episode of the Metro Matters podcast, Diana Lind of Next American City interviewed Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution. Much of their conversation was about steps that Ohio and the Great Lakes region can take to succeed economically.

Reason.tv posted the first two segments of its Reason Saves Cleveland series today. Produced by Drew Carey, the online series presents libertarian approaches to solving urban ills. The first part is an introduction, and the second part focuses on urban schools. The four remaining parts will be released over the course of the week.

Marc Lefkowitz considered the challenges that Greater Cleveland could face when applying for grants from the federal Sustainable Communities Initiative.

A group of commercial property owners and developers may challenge the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's authority to implement its new impervious surface fee. When the NEORSD board voted to adopt the stormwater management program, they also asked the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to issue a declaratory judgment. The group represented by attorney Sheldon Berns may attempt to intervene. The Sewer District has also increased its advertising budget in recent years.

Update: the group of 21 parties filed a motion in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. Judge McMonagle will decide whether they can participate in the case.

Work on the first phase of the Perk Park renovations began last year, and should be completed this fall. The Plain Dealer published details about the redesign and the plans for a second phase.

In January, the Cleveland Clinic demolished the former Hathaway Brown School building on Chester Avenue without a public hearing. Because the Clinic's campus lies in a gap between design review districts, less public oversight is required. Historic preservationists would like to expand the districts to include the Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Play House properties, among other sites. Bill Barrow believes that the local approach to preservation "is too unplanned, piecemeal and last-minute to be effective."

The NOACA Governing Board approved a resolution that urges the U.S. EPA to set achievable ozone standards. In January, the federal agency announced its intention to tighten the ozone limit. It is expected to finalize its decision in August.

As the U.S. Census Bureau prepares to start mailing 2010 Census forms, the Plain Dealer highlighted the importance of obtaining an accurate count in Northeast Ohio. A recent Sound of Ideas program was also devoted to a discussion of the subject.

Update: the Census Bureau is encouraging households to complete and mail back their census forms, and a Plain Dealer editorial says that "a failure to tabulate everyone will ripple negative effects."

The Cleveland Coalition posted video of the speakers at the March 5 casino forum at the City Club. The presentations by Len Komoroski, Christopher Diehl, David Schwarz, and Tom Chema are now available.

Because Summit County leaders have filed legal challenges to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's new stormwater management program, the Sewer District may withdraw its sponsorship of conservation projects in northern Summit County.

Update: the Hudson Hub Times has more details.

Update 2: the Sewer District will not pull its support for the projects.

The Middleburg Heights Planning Commission approved plans to install a 285-foot tall wind turbine at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. The Planning Commission had tabled the proposal in January.

In a companion piece to its story on vacant land in Cleveland, Next American City looked at the City's "chicken and bees" law. The City is considering expanding the rules to include more varieties of livestock. In Communities & Banking, the magazine of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Matt Martin and Zachariah Starnik of the Stockyard Redevelopment Organization described residents' efforts to reclaim their neighborhood through urban gardening (PDF).

The Cleveland Metroparks purchased a 62-acre property along the east branch of the Rocky River in North Royalton. The site, which contains quality wetlands and a primary headwater stream, will be added to the Mill Stream Run Reservation.

The Jacobs Group filed initial site plans for Eaton's planned campus in the Beachwood portion of the Chagrin Highlands. In addition to the 10-story headquarters building, the plans call for a five-story parking garage and a 59,000-square-foot fitness center.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more information about the proposal.

At an open house on Tuesday, planners presented two alternate routes for stage three of the Towpath Trail extension in Cleveland. Construction of the leg between Steelyard Commons and Literary Road in Tremont could begin in 2012. Meanwhile, the cover story of this week's Scene is about allegations of impropriety in the process of awarding Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program grants. In a controversial decision last year, the Natural Resources Assistance Council recommended funding the acquisition of two properties in the Flats for the Towpath Trail.

Update: Scene followed up with additional details about the appraisal process.

Giant Eagle exercised a right in its lease and vetoed the plans to reopen the former Wal-Mart store at City View Center as the Cuyahoga Convention Center.

Some environmentalists worry that the proposed waste-to-energy plant in Cleveland will not be as environmentally friendly as its proponents claim.

Governor Strickland told the Ohio Department of Transportation to re-evaluate the feasibility of including a multipurpose lane on the planned new Innerbelt Bridge. A Plain Dealer editorial notes that "for Strickland's call to make a real difference, ODOT planners need to bring open minds to a review they have staunchly resisted."

A group of Northeast Ohio public health and medical professionals recently met in Akron to discuss the findings (PDF) of the County Health Rankings report. Their next step will be to develop strategies for improving community health outcomes.

Now that they have reached purchase agreements for most of the properties for the planned Medical Mart, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners are expected to reject proposals for relocating the county offices. The new county government will decide whether or not to leave the County Administration Building on Lakeside Avenue.

A Plain Dealer editorial challenges the leaders of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority to be less secretive.

WCPN's Eric Wellman spoke with organizers and applicants in round two of the EfficientGovNow regionalism program, and Bob Paynter classified the 50 applications. The finalists will be announced on April 30 and public voting will occur in May.

At Friday's public forum on the planned Cleveland casino, panelists discussed the goals of the development and the challenges posed by each of the four potential sites. Rock Ventures still plans to break ground as soon as this fall, but now anticipates opening the casino in early 2013.

Update: Scene's Anastasia Pantsios also attended the event.

G2M Design Collaborative is continuing to develop a new master plan for the City of Broadview Heights.

At a recent public meeting, consultants for RTA described the five alternatives being studied in the Blue Line Corridor Extension Study.

Update: a Chagrin Solon Sun editorial says that the line should be extended to the Chagrin Highlands.

Brent Larkin believes that Cleveland needs to close Burke Lakefront Airport and turn it into "a world-class development that could transform downtown." An editorial in the Sun Messenger encourages Cleveland and Cuyahoga County officials to coordinate their positions on the region's airports.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Dominic LoGalbo criticizes the disarray at the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, and encourages local leaders to reconsider the agency's roles.

A new food co-op opened on Carnegie Avenue. The Central Community Co-op will supply fresh produce to residents of Cleveland's Central neighborhood.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson delivered his fifth State of the City address on Thursday. He announced that a Chinese LED manufacturer will locate its American headquarters in Cleveland, talked about the City's sustainability initiatives, and proposed the creation of a countywide education authority. A Plain Dealer editorial called it "the kind of big thinking this region needs." The speech is available as text (PDF) and as audio.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Sustainable Housing and Communities Listening Tour will stop in Cleveland (PDF) on March 10. The event will begin at 10:30 in the US Bank Centre Building at Playhouse Square.

The Ohio EPA will appeal the recent court decision which found that the state's pollution rules for small businesses violated the federal Clean Air Act.

Legislators from Great Lakes states introduced identical bipartisan bills in the U.S. House and Senate to support the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The legislation would restore 2011 funding to the 2010 level of $475 million, instead of the Obama administration's proposed $300 million. Great Lakes advocates are pleased.

The City of Cleveland is proceeding with the third and final phase of the Kamm's Corners streetscape project. Bidding opened to contractors on Thursday.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership outlined its agenda for the year at its annual meeting on Thursday. The chamber's priorities include county government reform, renewal of the county health and human services levy and the state Third Frontier program, and investing in downtown Cleveland projects. Roldo Bartimole was indignant at the suggestions.

In his two newest columns, Steve Hoffman of the Akron Beacon Journal looked at policy recommendations from the Restoring Prosperity report released by Greater Ohio and the Brookings Institution. He first discussed school district consolidation and the reactions of political leaders. In the second piece, he looked at the costs of local government fragmentation and the prospects for reorganizing local government. Greater Ohio officials and state legislators also recently discussed the report at the Columbus Metropolitan Club.

Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jolene Molitoris expressed her support for the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line. Her agency is still preparing a response to Ohio Senate President Bill Harris' questions about the project.

Update: video of the talk is now available.

An article in this week's issue of West Life offers more information about the Aerotropolis study being conducted by Cleveland State University. The study should be completed by the end of the month.

Four teams of designers and contractors hope to build the new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland, and submitted their qualifications to the Ohio Department of Transportation. ODOT will select three of the teams to prepare technical and price proposals and will announce the finalists on March 23. Greenlight Zine highlighted some of GreenCityBlueLake's questions about the project.

The spring 2010 issue of Next American City includes an article by Marc Lefkowitz about vacant land reuse policies and practices in Cleveland. He explored the reasons behind the problems and the variety of innovative initiatives currently underway. Terry Schwarz also spoke about urban regeneration at the recent TEDxCLE event.

The City of Cleveland hired Panzica Construction to build the new Collinwood Community Recreation Center. The conversion of the former Big Lots store near Euclid Beach State Park is scheduled to begin this spring.

The Ohio Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of Merrill v. Ohio, the Lake Erie property lines case. The date for oral arguments has not been set.

The next Levin College Forum is about land use law. It's titled Legal Implications of Zoning Decisions for Smart Planning and Development, and will take place on March 26.

Cindy Barber wants artists to relocate to North Collinwood. She proposes making houses owned by the Cuyahoga County Land Bank available to artists at reduced prices.

The Plain Dealer again called for reform of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's board, this time saying that its size should be reduced by one-third.

The Gund Foundation made a $3.6 million, three-year grant to Neighborhood Progress, Inc. The foundation also awarded grants to the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, the GreenCityBlueLake Institute, and the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy.

The Cleveland Coalition organized a panel discussion about integrating the planned Cleveland casino into the existing urban fabric. It will be held at 5:00 on Friday at the City Club, and the speakers will be David M. Schwarz, Len Komoroski, Tom Chema, and Christopher Diehl. Admission is free, but registration is requested.

While other Great Lakes ports received millions of dollars in federal stimulus grants, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority did not receive funding. The Port Authority applied for a TIGER grant, but was not one of the selected projects. It was the only application that the Port submitted. The Port Authority also dropped its plans to fill a slip and build a warehouse. Interim President Peter Raskind said, "The bottom line is we do not believe it's a good use of public money."

Leaders of Brecksville and Broadview Heights continue to discuss the potential development of the property at the southwest corner of Route 82 and I-77. The Jacobs Group had an option on the site, but it expired in January.

Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution and Lavea Brachman of Greater Ohio, the organizations which jointly released the new Restoring Prosperity agenda, wrote about positioning Ohio's economy for future growth. They said that "Ohio is in a paradoxical moment: The present is painful, but the future could be promising. And in another paradox, its manufacturing heritage is part of the reason why."

The new signs for the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway will be officially unveiled on Tuesday morning in a ceremony at West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue in Cleveland. About 320 signs will be installed along the 110-mile corridor.

Local governments in the 16-county Northeast Ohio region submitted 50 projects in the second round of the EfficientGovNow grant program. Sixteen of the applications are from Cuyahoga County communities, including a proposal from Moreland Hills, Orange Village, and Pepper Pike that would fund implementation of a forthcoming municipal collaboration study.

Update: organizers encourage public input on the project ideas.

Vicky Poole and Jack Hamilton have begun operating Gardens Under Glass, a hydroponic garden in the Galleria at Erieview in downtown Cleveland. The project is funded by a $30,000 start-up grant from the Civic Innovation Lab. Meanwhile, panelists on NEOtropolis discussed food policy and access to fresh foods.

Update: Fast Company also reported on the Galleria.

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