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June 2010 Archives

The Cleveland Rowing Foundation received two major gifts for its planned Rivergate Park on the Columbus Road Peninsula. The Cleveland Foundation donated $300,000 and philanthropist Peter B. Lewis gave a $250,000 matching grant. The Rowing Foundation must raise an additional $700,000 by July 31 to reach its $3.2 million goal and purchase the property.

Update: the Gund Foundation also donated $200,000 to the project.

Euclid Beach Park Now and the Euclid Beach Park Carousel Society announced plans to partner with the Western Reserve Historical Society to rebuild the Euclid Beach Park Carousel on the grounds of the Historical Society. They launched a $6 million fundraising campaign and hope to have the restored carousel running in University Circle by 2013.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial supports the effort.

On Tuesday, Frank Jackson announced the 15 members of the new Group Plan Commission. They will hold their first public meeting on July 15.

In the fourth round of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, 13 projects were awarded $28.3 million in tax credits. Three Cuyahoga County properties were among the recipients: the Union Building in Cleveland, the former Berea Congregational United Church of Christ, and the Schofield Building in downtown Cleveland. It will be converted to a 140-room boutique hotel and 24 luxury apartments. While the program has been praised, this could be its final round. It's up for renewal, and could end if a new funding source is not identified.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ended a program that allowed local governments and nonprofits to take control of foreclosed houses. Cleveland officials were surprised and disappointed by its termination, and Dennis Kucinich asked HUD to reverse its decision.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial is critical of HUD's actions.

Mark Salling and Ellen Cyran of the Levin College of Urban Affairs expect that the 2010 Census will report that the City of Cleveland's population remains over 400,000. Lake and Geauga county officials anticipate modest population increases.

Ohio Department of Transportation officials defended the agency's plans to award up to $1 million in stipends to each of the two teams not selected to build the new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland, but did establish new guidelines for distributing the money. A News-Herald editorial questions "whether paying the losing bidders as much as $2 million is the best use of that money."

Fortune highlighted the efforts of the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and similar initiatives in other cities to increase levels of urban greenspace.

The Chagrin Solon Sun summarized former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell's recent talk at South Franklin Circle (DOC) about regionalism.

Brunswick leaders attended an International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas, and repeated that a "major outdoor retailer" has plans to build in the city by 2011.

Moreland Hills voters may have the opportunity to vote on changes to the Village's open space conservation zoning classification, while Bay Village voters may vote on a commercial to residential rezoning issue for a set of proposed condominiums.

Richard Herman believes that Cleveland leaders need to view the local immigrant community as a valuable resource when pursuing foreign direct investment. Meanwhile, a group of foreign investors committed $20 million to the Flats east bank project through the Cleveland International Fund.

Update: A Plain Dealer editorial says that the investment "is good news for Greater Cleveland -- on many fronts."

The City of Cleveland plans to build an intermodal transportation center north of Mall C in downtown Cleveland. The center would serve Amtrak, RTA's Waterfront Line, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. It could open in five to 10 years.

The U.S. Census Bureau released 2009 municipal population estimates, the final set of estimates to be based on Census 2000 data. The City of Cleveland's population fell to 431,363, with an estimated loss of 2,658 people between July 2008 and July 2009. The 0.61% rate of decrease was lower than the estimated decreases of recent years. While most Cuyahoga County communities lost population, many communities in the surrounding six counties gained population. The City of Avon grew by an estimated 52% between 2000 and 2009.

The board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority today voted to hire a team of four consultants (PDF) to "review a wide array of pressing issues and questions that will help define the port's future." The board also decided to ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to look beyond the proposed East 55th Street site for a new confined disposal facility.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more details.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative recently launched the Green Cities Transforming Towards Sustainability program. It "showcases the actions of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence cities in moving the entire region towards a sustainable future." Cleveland is not a member of the binational coalition of mayors and other local officials.

The Cuyahoga County Public Library's board of trustees unanimously voted to adopt the system's facilities master plan.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Heath is scheduled to take up a package of environmental restoration bills that includes the Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act of 2010.

Update: the committee approved the bill.

Judge Pianka of Cleveland Housing Court fined two South Carolina real estate companies more than $13 million for neglecting distressed houses in Cleveland. He fined Interstate Investment Group $11.9 million and Paramount Land Holdings more than $1 million.

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling could impact the Lake Erie property lines case currently before the Ohio Supreme Court. The high court ruled that a Florida beach restoration program does not violate the rights of waterfront property owners. The Ohio Environmental Law Center considered whether the decision has implications for the Ohio case, while lakefront property owners asserted that the ruling is not relevant.

Update: WKSU's Jeff St.Clair spoke with property law professor Ben Barros about the case.

The Lakewood Planning Commission approved a Historic Preservation Designation for St. James Church. The designation covers its exterior and interior, and it is the first time the City has protected a building's interior. St. James Parish will hold its final Mass on June 26.

Residents in Fairview Park will decide two commercial to residential rezoning issues in November, similar to the one they approved in May.

The Bainbridge Township Trustees raised several questions about the Chagrin Falls Region Alternate Transportation Study.

Update: the Chagrin Valley Times has more information.

A group of Brooklyn Centre residents objects to the Ohio Department of Transportation's plans to install noise walls along I-71. They prefer plant-based noise barriers. Meanwhile, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners adopted a voluntary noise abatement procedure for Cuyahoga County Airport.

The Baldwin-Wallace College South Campus Historic District (PDF) in Berea was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Update: the News Sun has more details.

The Ohio Department of Transportation again rejected a proposal to include a multipurpose lane on the planned new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland. Marc Lefkowitz wrote that while the campaign for the lane may not succeed, it has increased local awareness of the complete streets movement.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that ODOT reached the wrong conclusion, and the subject was among those discussed on Friday's Sound of Ideas program.

Steve Hoffman of the Akron Beacon Journal was disappointed by the modest scope of the government collaborations in the recently-concluded EfficientGovNow competition. He believes that revenue constraints will compel more intergovernmental cooperation, and that "for some smaller units, survival may well depend on their willingness to collaborate."

Today's Sound of Ideas program was devoted to a discussion of natural gas drilling and the risks it entails.

The City of Avon will levy special assessments against more than 100 property owners near the planned new I-90 interchange at Nagel Road. The tax will cover $9 million of the $28 million project. Property owners object to the assessments.

Update: land acquisition for the interchange is underway.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport recently released a draft (PDF, 46.5 MB) of its noise and land use study, and last week (PDF) held two open houses where residents shared their concerns. The document is open to public comment through June 30.

Update: the Sun Post-Herald has more details.

Strongsville officials are marketing a 169-acre property at the end of Foltz Parkway in the Strongsville Business and Technology Park. Another 300-acre site is adjacent to the city-owned property. The area is the largest greenfield site in Cuyahoga County.

LMN Architects' latest designs for the Medical Mart in downtown Cleveland call for a glassy four-story building at the corner of St. Clair Avenue and Ontario Street. It will be connected to the planned new L-shaped convention center.

The discussion on today's Sound of Ideas program was about policy changes to support bicycling and walking in Greater Cleveland. Panelists also discussed the plans to complete the Cleveland segments of the Towpath Trail.

The Los Angeles Times looked at how the Cleveland Catholic Diocese's parish consolidations and church closures are impacting Northeast Ohio's ethnic communities.

Weekend Edition host Scott Simon examined how the foreclosure crisis has unfolded in Cleveland. He visited with Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis and Cleveland City Councilman Tony Brancatelli.

More Greater Cleveland residents and businesses are installing rain barrels and rain gardens, for environmental reasons and to qualify for a reduction in the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's impervious surface fee. The City of Cleveland's Office of Sustainability will launch its annual summer rain barrel program on June 21.

The National Park Service will hold a second round of five town-hall meetings on the Western Reserve Heritage Feasibility Study. One meeting will be in Cuyahoga County, on June 22 at the Sleepy Hollow Golf Course clubhouse in Brecksville.

The City of Brooklyn has yet to make an official response to the Ohio EPA since the state shut down operations at the City's landfill in January. City leaders intend to meet with EPA officials within six weeks and hope to keep the landfill open.

Thirteen water quality improvement projects (PDF) in Cuyahoga County will receive a total of $2.3 million in grants (PDF) from Ohio's Surface Water Improvement Fund and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Frank Jackson is forming a new Group Plan Commission that will recommend ways to revitalize the Mall and Public Square greenspaces in downtown Cleveland. It will have 10 to 15 members and will be chaired by City Planning Commission Chairman Anthony Coyne. The panel is expected to deliver its final report by the end of the year. Funding sources for the improvements have yet to be identified.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial supports the process.

On Wednesday, the Fund for Our Economic Future announced the winners in the second round of the EfficientGovNow program. The projects that received the most votes were the land bank for Mahoning County, 911 dispatch for Stark County, and the renewable energy SID in Cuyahoga County. The Fund also chose to fund a multi-county GIS cooperative. The four projects will share $331,420 in grants. Voters cast more than 17,400 ballots.

Update: Channel 3 described the Renewable Energy Special Improvement District in Cuyahoga County, while editorials in the Repository and Plain Dealer praised the competition.

Eaton broke ground on its new headquarters campus at the Chagrin Highlands in Beachwood. The Jacobs Group intends to begin work at the site next week.

The Ohio EPA and the Cuyahoga River RAP asked the U.S. EPA to extend the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern to include the dam in the Gorge Metro Park. The change could make the area eligible for federal funding to clean up contaminated sediment behind the dam.

Bill Purcell, the former mayor of Nashville, spoke about regionalism and city-county consolidations at South Franklin Circle in Chagrin Falls. He also spoke with WCPN's Eric Wellman.

A Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas judge told the City of Solon to reconsider a rezoning for a property at the southeast corner of SOM Center and Miles roads. It is currently zoned for single-family residential, and City Council rejected a proposed retail rezoning in 2008. The developer that owns the site now wants it rezoned to two-family residential. City Council began the process of placing the rezoning on the November ballot.

Update: a Chagrin Solon Sun editorials says that "city officials must act swiftly to ensure whatever development does go in there is the most appropriate for that property."

Biologists with the Ohio EPA have begun running tests to determine the ecological and environmental conditions of Lake Erie's coastal waters. They will survey 26 near-shore locations this summer, and their data will be incorporated into the National Coastal Conditions Assessment.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland's eighth annual housing policy summit called for "re-examination of that cornerstone of the American Dream: owning a home." It featured panel discussions where experts said that the nation's housing crisis is not over, asserted that new ideas are needed, and discussed methods for preventing a reoccurrence.

Update: the Wall Street Journal's James Hagerty summarized one of the talks.

WCPN looked at two creative reuses of underutilized space in Cleveland, Ray's MTB Indoor Park in Midtown and the Gardens Under Glass at the Galleria.

After spending 20 years leading Neighborhood Progress Inc., Eric Hodderson recently retired. NPI launched a national search for his successor.

Participants on Wednesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor and economic development in Cleveland.

Consultants have prepared a preliminary concept plan for the Chagrin Falls Region Alternate Transportation Study. The study should be completed by August or September. Two public meetings have been held, and the final one take place on July 6.

Restoration of a Tinkers Creek tributary near Hudson High School is expected to begin this fall. Students in the school's environmental education program will participate in the project.

Panelists at yesterday's Creative Voices Summit discussed ways to use creativity to improve communities and encourage economic development. Richey Piiparinen recapped the event at GreenCityBlueLake.

Update: CEOs for Cities shared some observations.

Case Western Reserve University will build a field house adjacent to its Village at 115 complex. The 24,000-square-foot Wyant Field House will feature weight training and cardiovascular areas, a lounge, and multipurpose space.

Businesses in Strongsville are reusing formerly-vacant properties.

Rocky River City Council recently approved a new development code (PDF). It includes a mixed-use zoning classification.

The Ohio Department of Transportation again delayed the opening of the new Fulton Road Bridge in Old Brooklyn. Officials cited weather as a factor, and now expect to open the bridge in mid-July.

Stan Austin (PDF) will be the new superintendent of the Cuyahoga National Park. He is currently the superintendent of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona and will become the National Park's fourth superintendent on August 22. He succeeds John Debo, who retired last July.

Update: Austin spoke with WKSU's Jeff St. Clair.

Cleveland City Council is expected to approve the sale of the convention center under Malls B and C to Cuyahoga County for the Medical Mart project.

Update: City Council approved the agreement. The vote was unanimous.

The Plain Dealer's Tony Brown examined the planned renovations and additions to the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square. The Cleveland Play House and Cleveland State University plan to convert the former movie palace to eight smaller theaters with work beginning in September and finishing in fall 2011.

Update: Tony Brown addressed several concerns about the plans.

The final report of the Ohio Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force identifies sources of phosphorus loading and makes recommendations for management practices designed to reduce nutrient runoff.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial concluded that "the task ahead involves fulfilling the panel's call for further study and following through to ensure the sound stewardship of a most valuable resource."

Ohio lawmakers approved casino authorization legislation early Friday morning. The bill includes a provision that will permit the Cleveland casino to open in phases and another that grants a property tax exemption to the planned Medical Mart in Cleveland.

Update: Governor Strickland signed the bill.

Governor Strickland designated the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor as an Ohio Hub of Innovation and Opportunity, the second in the state. The status is accompanied by a $250,000 grant and priority status for millions of dollars in grants and loans. Philips Healthcare will open a $33.4 million research center in the corridor at University Hospitals.

A reopening ceremony was held on Saturday morning for the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Public Square, marking the completion of a two-year, $2 million restoration of its interior. The project included re-colorization, restoration of the sculptures and stained glass, new lighting and HVAC systems, and improved handicapped access. The gardens around the monument were also restored. Admission is free, and it is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Consultants G2M Design Collaborative recently completed work on the Broadview Heights Master Plan. They will present the plan to City Council.

A new report by Becky Gaylord (PDF) for the Jewish Federation of Cleveland explores why and how Greater Cleveland should encourage immigration, and presents 31 strategies that could be used to support immigration.

Greater Ohio has begun to gather feedback on a proposal for a statewide quarter-percent sales tax increase to fund public transit.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Geological Survey published a series of detailed maps of Ohio's glacial deposits.

The closed Kellstone Quarry on Kelleys Island is being considered as an alternative to building a confined disposal facility for dredge material from the Port of Cleveland and Cuyahoga River. Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority officials estimate that the 200-acre quarry has enough capacity to last 28 years.

Update: the Ohio EPA rejected the proposal and said that the site is unsuitable for storing contaminated sediment.

Update 2: a Plain Dealer editorial said that "the quarry warrants further study."

The U.S. EPA announced the finalists for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant funding. The EPA is expected to spread $161 million across 270 projects, including $17.2 million for 28 projects in Ohio. The Cuyahoga County Engineer's Office received two $1.5 million grants for Cuyahoga River habitat restoration.

Update: Jane Goodman described the Cleveland-area projects.

The Cleveland Clinic broke ground today on a community health center at Huron Hospital in East Cleveland. The three-story, 50,000-square-foot Huron Community Health Center is scheduled to open in late 2011.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial called it "welcome interest in a community that hears too little good news."

A Cuyahoga County appeals court overturned a Cleveland Housing Court decision that required Wells Fargo to repair or demolish distressed houses it owns before selling them. The court ruled (PDF) that the plaintiff had improperly taken contradictory positions in two different courts. The implications of the ruling are unclear.

The Middleburg Heights Planning Commission approved preliminary plans for Boulder Creek, an eight-acre, 17-house subdivision near the intersection of Smith Road and Paula Drive.

The Cleveland Clinic is expanding its community health outreach efforts by opening more farmers markets its health centers. The Clinic has had a market at its main campus since 2008, recently opened a second in Solon, and plans to open a third at Hillcrest Hospital.

A new policy brief from the Brookings Institution says that the Great Lakes region has the potential to become a hub for the advanced energy industry. It recommends that the federal government should "launch a distributed network of federally funded, commercialization-oriented, sustainable energy research and innovation centers" in the region. Meanwhile, John Austin of Brookings says that his earlier work on the Great Lakes Economic Initiative remains relevant.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial calls it "an idea that merits serious consideration by Congress and the Obama administration."

Building a Better Bridge (PDF) is a new policy brief from Policy Bridge. It makes recommendations for increasing social capital by creating sustained opportunities for public engagement from diverse constituent groups.

Officials in Cleveland Heights are working on a new strategic plan for the City. It was last updated in 1993 (PDF). A draft should be available later this month. A group of Cleveland Heights residents launched Sustainable Heights, an outgrowth of the Cleveland sustainability summit.

The Plain Dealer looked at the history of the Cleveland Metroparks' West Creek Reservation in Parma and the projects underway at the park.

Update: the Parma Sun Post published more details about the planned $14 million of improvements.

The Maltz Family Foundation donated $50,000 to the effort to establish an international welcome center in Cleveland. It's the first foundation support for the initiative.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial cheered the announcement.

Channel 3 visited the Vineyards of Chateau Hough, one of the 58 neighborhood projects that received Re-Imagining Cleveland grants.

Update: the station followed up with a report on other Re-Imagining Cleveland greenspaces.

The June issue of Cleveland Magazine includes a profile of ParkWorks Executive Director Ann Zoller, an essay on the breakwall at the East 55th Street Marina, and a map illustrating grant awards in the Ohio and Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor.

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