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August 2010 Archives

Plans for redeveloping Westlake's historic Red Brick school as an arts center fell through. The Westlake City School District plans to demolish the building, and may raze it as early as next month.

The German Marshall Fund's Cities in Transition Initiative is "a three-year project designed to build a sustained network of leading policymakers and practitioners" in Cleveland, Detroit, Flint, Pittsburgh, and Youngstown. Greater Ohio is participating in the project, which will be launched in October at a one-day meeting in Detroit.

Participants on Thursday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the future of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and shipping issues in Cleveland. The guests, including new port CEO William Friedman, also discussed dredging plans.

Cleveland Metroparks officials and consultants are continuing work on the Huntington Reservation Shoreline Management Plan. The Metroparks hosted a public meeting in June and will hold a second on September 21 at Bay Village City Hall. The work is partially funded by an ODNR coastal management grant.

Berea officials are preparing to embark on a review and rewrite of the City's zoning code. The City hired consultant Jay Stewart to help guide the process.

A group of Solon residents formed Solon Citizens Against Rezoning to oppose the proposed rezoning of a property at the southeast corner of SOM Center and Miles roads.

Update: the Chagrin Solon Sun offers more details.

A coalition of 20 Northeast Ohio stakeholders submitted an application for a regional planning grant from the federal Sustainable Communities Initiative. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Transportation filed $259 million in grant requests through the federal TIGER II program, including a request for $12.3 million to develop a statewide electric vehicle readiness plan. None of ODOT's 12 projects are specific to Cuyahoga County.

This summer's hot weather has led to more days with poor air quality. There have been 11 ozone action days in Northeast Ohio so far this year, compared to three in 2009. There have also been three days with elevated particulate levels.

In this week's issue of Scene, Michael Roberts revisits the history of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's fruitless lakefront planning efforts. He attributes many of the problems to the machinations of board member John Carney.

NASA's Glenn Research Center will break ground for its new Centralized Office Building on Friday. The LEED silver building is the centerpiece of the campus master plan. NASA Chief Technologist Robert Braun said that Glenn's future is bright.

Update: the News Sun and West Life have additional information.

Cleveland Housing Court started a pilot project to paint boarded-up windows and doors of vacant houses so that they blend into their neighborhoods.

The Cleveland Rowing Foundation announced two additional gifts for its planned seven-acre Rivergate Park in the Flats. The owners of the former marina lowered the purchase price from $3.2 million to $3 million. A mid-September closing is planned.

Update: Gmail creator Paul Buchheit also made a contribution.

Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN featured a spirited debate about municipal revenue sharing and the 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative. The guests were Medina County Commissioner Stephen Hambley, Aurora Mayor Lynn McGill, and Professor Tom Bier, who recently wrote an op-ed about ideas for improving Northeast Ohio's older cities.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed its environmental investigation of the site of the former Nike missile base on the Tri-C West campus in Parma Heights. The proposed plan recommends (PDF) no further action at the location. A public meeting was held on Tuesday, and the public comment period is open until September 4.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Kevin Cronin describes what bicycle and pedestrian advocates have learned in the debate over plans for the new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland. He concludes that "it's not about a bridge, it's about a process, it's about livability and it's about people being counted."

Steven Litt toured the Tudor Arms building at Carnegie Avenue and East 107th Street. The University Circle landmark is currently under renovation, and is scheduled to reopen next year as a Doubletree Hotel.

The Cleveland City Planning Commission today approved preliminary plans for the new downtown Cleveland convention center under Malls B and C. Members have not voted on plans for the adjoining Medical Mart.

Forest City Enterprises and Rock Gaming reached agreements regarding sites for the planned downtown Cleveland casino. Rock Gaming will purchase 16 acres and air rights behind Tower City Center, and the two parties agreed to a multiyear lease of space in the Higbee Building. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Richard M. Todd of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis examined residential foreclosure trends for non-owner-occupied properties in Cuyahoga County. Building upon research conducted by Case Western Reserve University, he concluded that "the incidence of non-occupant foreclosures in Cuyahoga County was very high by national standards and was even higher for loans to minority borrowers made by non-local lenders in low-cost, low-income, minority neighborhoods" for loans originated in 2005–2006.

(via the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland)

WKSU's Kabir Bhatia spoke with planners and potential users of the planned Towpath Trail extension through Cleveland.

Members of the new Cleveland Heights Bicycle Coalition asked Cleveland Heights City Council to make the City more sustainable and bicycle-friendly, and to paint sharrows on five of the City's busier streets. They also presented a 500-signature petition.

Operators of Solar Shopping Center still intend to proceed with stalled redevelopment plans, but some members of Solon City Council do not share their optimism.

The Chagrin Falls Architectural Board of Review approved preliminary designs for the townhouses in the proposed River Walk development on West Orange Street. In Rocky River, construction continues on the Eleven River luxury condominiums.

In response to a lawsuit filed by a group of residents, the Village of Hunting Valley may create an institutional zoning classification. It would be applied to Case's Squire Valleevue Farm and the University School campus.

Update: the Chagrin Solon Sun provides additional reactions.

Because of the unresolved legal challenge, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District indefinitely delayed implementing its stormwater management program and impervious surface fee. The sewer district's board approved the program in January. It was initially scheduled to begin in July, and was later postponed until October. Sewer district officials hope to start the program later this year.

Cleveland's OneCommunity received a $44.8 million federal stimulus grant to expand its fiber optic network in 27 Northeast Ohio counties. The award will fund 64% of a nearly $70 million project that will add about 1,000 miles of new cable, including 111 miles in Cuyahoga County.

The City of Berea and the Cuyahoga County Land Bank are demolishing the former Williams Ford complex on Front Street. It is the Land Bank's first project on a commercial site. The City hopes to eventually redevelop the area as a mixed-use district.

Wingfoot Lake State Park, Ohio's newest state park, will open to the public on August 27. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife purchased the park and lake in Portage County's Suffield Township from Goodyear for $3.2 million in June 2009.

The City of Lakewood continues to gather public input on community planning initiatives, and recently held the second public work session for the Clifton Boulevard Enhancement Project. On August 21, a Birdtown Madison Community Action public meeting will take place.

Update: the Sun Post-Herald summarized the Clifton Boulevard work session.

Update 2: about 50 people attended the August 21 event. The City will hold two more community meetings.

The Akron Beacon Journal relates the history of Botzum, a former unincorporated village in northern Summit County's Cuyahoga Valley.

Construction of the Cleveland Clinic's $15 million Independence Technology Center expansion could begin as early as next month.

Citing reduced demand and proposed federal regulations, FirstEnergy announced plans to reduce operations at four of its smaller coal-fired power plants in Ohio. The changes include plans (PDF) to temporarily idle the Lake Shore Plant in Cleveland and to operate the Eastlake Plant only during the summer and winter.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded $8.29 million in Clean Ohio Trails Fund grants (PDF), including $468,000 to the Cleveland Metroparks for the West Creek Greenway, $350,000 to the City of Euclid for a Lake Erie waterfront trail and $88,524 to ParkWorks for the Lake Link Trail in Cleveland. ODNR also awarded $1.87 million in grants from its Recreational Trails Program, which includes $150,000 (PDF) for the trail in Euclid.

Update: the News-Herald has more information about Euclid's plans.

A Plain Dealer editorial criticizes the quality of the proposed designs for the new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland, saying that "all three proposals from prospective design-build teams are in keeping with the department's narrow vision of what can and should be accomplished here." Meanwhile, Mandy Metcalf detailed her concerns about ODOT's plans for the east end of the West Shoreway reconfiguration in Ohio City.

At yesterday's Cleveland Housing Court hearing, three neighbors of a neglected house in Cleveland filed restitution claims. The City of Cleveland also filed a claim.

The West Shore Commuter Rail Task Force named Jeanette Corlett McGovern of MAC Development Associates as an adviser for a study of the proposed passenger rail line between Cleveland and Sandusky.

Turning the Tide (PDF), a new report from the Healing Our Waters Campaign, says that between January 2009 and January 2010, combined sewer overflows in Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Gary, and Milwaukee discharged 41 billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater into the Great Lakes. The report recommends upgrading sewer systems and increasing implementation of green infrastructure techniques, and calls on Congress to fund the improvements.

This week's issue of Scene looks at the growth of the urban agriculture and local foods movements in Cleveland. The Northeast Ohio Local Food System Assessment is calculating the economic impacts of shifting to local food.

Urban design in Cleveland was the subject of Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN. The guests, including CPC director Paul Alsenas, discussed plans for the Innerbelt Bridge, MOCA's new building, and the new convention center.

Update: panelists on Channel 3's Between the Lines also discussed the Innerbelt Bridge and convention center plans.

This morning, NPR's Morning Edition aired a report from Cleveland about Judge Pianka's plans to hold restitution hearings (PDF) for neighbors of neglected houses.

The nonprofit utility that provides power to institutions in University Circle is seeking a permit renewal for its coal-fired power plant. Members of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups oppose the permit, and stated their opinions at a public meeting (PDF) yesterday. The company intends to complete a plan by the end of 2011 for how it will become a coal-free operation. The Ohio EPA posted the draft permit (PDF).

Update: a final decision could take several months.

The Ohio Department of Transportation revealed renderings of the three proposals for the new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland. Each of the designs developed by the competing design-build teams calls for a steel girder bridge supported by concrete piers. ODOT is accepting public comments through August 15. Steven Litt was critical of the designs and the planning process, and said that "ODOT has come up with several profoundly ho-hum options for one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the state's history."

In the latest vision for the new Cleveland convention center, Mall B would become a grassy slope above the convention space. The plans developed by LMN Architects call for a gradual slope, starting at St. Clair Avenue and culminating in a 27-foot-high viewing platform at Lakeside Avenue. Cuyahoga County's Jeff Appelbaum said (PDF) that the project is on schedule and on budget, and Steven Litt said that the concept shows great promise. Cleveland's Design Review Committee approved the designs, but the Cleveland City Planning Commission postponed its scheduled vote.

In their first months of operation, RTA's two Weekly Shopper Service routes have seen very few riders. The shuttle buses in Lakewood and West Park supply a portion of the service formerly provided by community circulator routes.

Residents who live near the intersection of Solon and Richmond roads in Solon object to a recommendation for an expanded industrial presence in the area. Another group of residents believes that the City should have appealed a court-ordered rezoning issue instead of placing it on the November ballot.

Update: a Chagrin Solon Sun editorial says that "Solon cannot let the court decide the best use" of the property at SOM Center and Miles roads.

Marc Lefkowitz considered the priorities of RTA's transit waiting environment program and its attempts to balance design and functionality. In addition to rethinking bus shelter designs, the program is funding the installation of four covered bike shelters at transit stops.

Yesterday, the Collaborative Campus Project unveiled plans for connecting the major institutions in Cleveland's Campus District with a series of pedestrian corridors.

A panel discussion at the City Club (MP3, 53.6 MB) yesterday explored market gardens, urban farms, and economic development. Earlier this year, the City Club hosted a discussion about local food.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority announced that it will proceed with plans to use dredge material from Dike 10B to create the Cuyahoga Valley Industrial Center (PDF) in the Flats. Port authority leaders also announced plans to build a $3.16 million rail loop at the lakefront docks.

Update: Channel 3 has more information about the sediment relocation.

The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking a new owner for the historic Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Light (PDF) at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. The lighthouse is available at no cost to government agencies, nonprofits, educational institutions, or community development organizations. Letters of interest are due by August 27.

(via the Cleveland Restoration Society)

One of the 13 Cuyahoga County water quality improvement projects funded by GLRI/SWIF grants is a green infrastructure demonstration project on the grounds of Mayfield Heights City Hall. The City received $231,000 to create a rain garden, install pervious pavement, and plant bioswales.

Cleveland Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka intends to order owners of neglected properties to pay neighbors for financial losses caused by the distressed buildings. He plans to hold restitution hearings this month. A Plain Dealer editorial says that "Pianka risks overstepping the bounds of impartiality should he mix advocacy and judicial roles."

Update: Thursday's Sound of Ideas program looked at the restitutions and other strategies for combating neglect.

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