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September 2011 Archives

The Texas Transportation Institute issued its annual Urban Mobility Report. It said that too little is being done to address traffic congestion issues and that congestion occurs even in off-peak hours. The study was criticized as being overly automobile-centric. It reported that the average Cleveland driver (PDF) spent 20 hours in traffic jams last year, the same amount it reported for 2009 and 2008.

The November 8 ballot includes several planning and zoning issues in Cuyahoga County communities.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections has a complete list of issues (PDF) and an absentee ballot application.

In Avon, voters will decide a charter amendment that would establish a minimum lot size.

Cuyahoga County Council discussed Medical Mart and convention center construction at a work session on Tuesday. They learned that the service drive off of West 3rd Street will require rebuilding, an estimated $1.6 million expense. This week's issue of Scene looked at how MMPI's concept for the project has evolved.

Update: the Plain Dealer examined the changing Medical Mart plans, while WCPN looked at the county's economic development priorities. A Plain Dealer editorial urges MMPI to keep stakeholders apprised of the changes.

Update 2: MedCity News analyzed the shift in strategy.

The vacant Moreland Theater on Buckeye Road (PDF) in Cleveland was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 15.

Over the next three years, the Cuyahoga County Public Library will invest $100 million to implement its facilities master plan. The work includes construction and renovation at 15 of its 28 branches. New libraries will be built in Garfield Heights, Mayfield Village, North Royalton, Olmsted Falls, Parma, and Warrensville Heights.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is finalizing its identification of green infrastructure projects that will be a part of the combined sewer overflow control program. The Green Infrastructure Feasibility Study will include 1,000 acres in 30 projects.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more information about the $42 million program.

The Cleveland City Planning Commission asked the Kamm's Corners Development Corporation to revise its West Park/Lorain Avenue Transportation & Redevelopment Plan. They said that the current version is too broad.

The Kasich administration narrowed the list of firms seeking to advise on the proposed lease of the Ohio Turnpike. The five finalists are expected to make presentations in November.

Update: Democratic U.S. Representatives objected to the use of public money. In a letter, they said that "federal taxpayer funds should not be serving to facilitate a particular policy initiative to privatize a public asset."

The third annual Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit took place (PDF) last week. The first day focused on energy efficiency and the second on local food. Participants will explore local food systems over the next year. Prior to the event, organizers discussed the topics on WCPN's Sound of Ideas.

In its annual release of American Community Survey statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau published data covering more than 40 topics for 2010, including income, poverty, and educational attainment. Median income declined and poverty rates increased in most of the nation's metropolitan areas, including Greater Cleveland. Suburban poverty rates continued to rise. The City of Cleveland remained among the nation's poorest large cities.

Last Wednesday, the board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority voted to adopt its new strategic (PDF) action plan, despite a late objection from developers of the Flats east bank project.

Local bicycling advocates are displeased that the latest changes in the West Shoreway reconstruction plans call for stripping multipurpose trails from the design. Rust Wire's Angie Schmitt characterized it as a failure of leadership and policy, while GreenCityBlueLake's Marc Lefkowitz recently stated that the entire plan deserves to be jettisoned.

Update: Marc Lefkowitz also called for a public discussion of the changes.

The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt was impressed by the renovated Tudor Arms Hotel on Carnegie Avenue in University Circle.

Cuyahoga County Council did not vote on a proposal for a new funding formula for the Cuyahoga County Land Bank. Members want to wait until a dispute about the land bank's board composition is resolved.

A new report from Environment America looked at smog figures in American cities. It ranked the five-county Greater Cleveland area as being tied as the 20th-smoggiest metropolitan area in 2010.

On Monday, Cleveland City Council approved complete and green streets legislation. Starting in January, 20% of road construction spending will go toward sustainable transportation options, up to $1 million. GreenCityBlueLake's Marc Lefkowitz addressed misconceptions about the policy and Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt supplied the decision's historical context.

Sound barriers along Greater Cleveland highways are deteriorating more quickly than anticipated. The Ohio Department of Transportation spends $5 million per year to repair and replace noise walls statewide. Councilman Mike Polansek of Cleveland said that ODOT made poor choices.

The latest Civic Commons radio show explored issues in the Flats. William Friedman of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer shared their thoughts.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held last week for the I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon. Mayor Smith expressed his frustrations with the long process that led to its approval. Construction is expected to take 18 months. A Morning Journal editorial says it is part of a series of projects "that have made Avon one of Lorain County's most desirable communities".

The Cleveland Play House opened its first show in the renovated Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square in Cleveland. The former 2,500-seat theater is being converted to three smaller theaters that will be used by the Play House and Cleveland State University. The 514-seat theater has reopened, the 314-seat Second Stage will open in January, and the 150-seat Lab Theatre will open in February. Fundraising for the project continues.

The Cleveland Museum of Art and collectors Fred and Laura Bidwell are collaborating to open an art gallery in the former Cleveland Railway Co. transformer station on West 29th Street in Ohio City. The 7,944-square-foot Transformer Station gallery will be used to display contemporary art when it opens late next year.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial is supportive.

Chinese-American investors are working to revive Cleveland's old Chinatown along Rockwell Avenue. Their efforts include renovations of On Leong Tong Ceremonial Hall and plans to open five restaurants.

More than 125 people attended the inaugural Bike Cleveland Summit and helped to craft the new organization's vision, principles, and goals. Marc Lefkowitz considered the state of transportation advocacy in Greater Cleveland.

The Coral Co. plans to begin construction of 60,000 square feet of retail space at Cedar Center within 30 to 60 days. The company intends to complete the first phase of the redevelopment project in South Euclid by the end of 2012.

The Ohio Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Merrill v. Ohio, the Lake Erie property lines case. The court reversed a lower court decision, and said that public's land "extends to the natural shoreline, which is the line at which the water usually stands when free from disturbing causes." Environmental groups and property owners both claimed victory.

Update: the Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal, and Blade published editorials on the decision. Ken Kilbert of the University of Toledo analyzed the ruling.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald announced his revised Business Attraction and Anti-Poaching Protocol. It's intended to reduce incentives for business relocations that that do not add to the region's economic output. The proposed agreement is less ambitious than the initial concept.

Update: the Plain Dealer provided more details, and in an editorial, said that the agreement "embodies two principles critical to the future of this area."

Update 2: reactions from suburban leaders have been mixed.

Update 3: Mayor DePiero of Parma signed and Pepper Pike City Council approved the agreement.

Last week, the Ohio Historic Preservation Office recommended against approval of a skywalk between the phase one casino in the Higbee Building and the casino parking facility currently under construction. Developers can build the skywalk if their request is denied, but could have to repay federal historic preservation tax credits.

The first phase of the Pearl Road widening project in Strongsville is complete and the road was officially reopened last week. Mayor Perciak said it would open 500 acres off of Foltz Parkway for industrial development.

The Finch Group and University Circle Inc. plan to build a 20-unit townhouse project on Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland. The $5 million Circle East development near University Circle is being supported with funding from local governments. A Plain Dealer editorial supports the project. Meanwhile, the Cuyahoga County Land Bank is clearing additional land in East Cleveland for potential future redevelopment.

Update: the Plain Dealer, WCPN, and Channel 5 also reported on the demolitions.

Update 2: Construction of the Circle East townhouses broke ground on October 13.

State officials awarded four Clean Ohio Assistance Fund grants, including a $299,377 grant to the City of Cleveland to conduct a Phase II assessment of the Kolthoff Road Landfill property, and a $656,272 grant to Cuyahoga County for demolition and remediation in the Emerald Alliance VII (PDF) project on Lorain Avenue in Cleveland.

Crain's Cleveland Business looked at how conditions along lower Euclid Avenue in Cleveland have improved since the mid-1990s.

CEOs for Cities opened a Cleveland office at CSU's Levin College of Urban Affairs. Its other offices are in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Lee Fisher was named as the organization's president and CEO in April. Fran DiDonato will lead the Cleveland office.

The Ohio Department of Development's Office of Policy Research and Strategic Planning prepared demographic profiles of the state's African-American, Asian-American, and Hispanic-American (PDFs) populations.

Between 2000 and 2010, the ten least-segregated metropolitan areas in the United States saw greater population growth than the ten most-segregated. The least-segregated metro areas were in the South and West, while the most-segregated (including Greater Cleveland) were in the Midwest and Northeast.

Brent Larkin of the Plain Dealer says that a quality redesign of downtown Cleveland's Public Square should be a priority.

Berea residents expressed concerns about the City's proposed new zoning code and map at public meetings this past spring, and they continued to share their concerns at a recent meeting. City Council will further discuss the changes.

Update: City Council will continue to take public input.

Marc Lefkowitz asserts that the plans for the West Shoreway reconfiguration in Cleveland have digressed from their original intent to the point where the project is no longer worth pursuing. He says that the "city should stand firm against this diminished project, say, 'no, thanks' let's be fiscally responsible and find another way to invest $40 million in a project worthy of its citizens desire to improve the ability to recreate and enjoy the most amazing natural resource right at their doorstep."

Strongsville City Council selected planner Robert Hill to prepare an update of the City's master plan. He expects to complete the work in three months.

A bill introduced by State Senator Kris Jordan would eliminate Ohio's renewable portfolio standard. It would strike a provision of a 2008 law that requires utilities to generate 25% of their power from renewable and advanced technology sources by 2025. Environmental groups oppose the legislation.

Update: local officials said that the bill imperils the planned Lake Erie wind farm, and Joe Koncelik said that it would be bad for Ohio. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that Senator Jordan "is thinking small about Ohio's future."

By a vote of 6 to 1 (PDF), the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a South Euclid group properly submitted a referendum petition on the rezoning of the Oakwood Club property. The Court said that the City must either rescind the rezoning or place the issue on the November ballot. The citizens group was pleased and the developer was disappointed.

Update: City Council unanimously voted to put the rezoning issue on the November ballot.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $13.3 million in grants to six cities through its Brownfields Economic Development Initiative. The City of Cleveland received a $3 million grant and a $10 million loan for cleanup and redevelopment of the Warner & Swasey site on Carnegie Avenue.

The Lakewood Architectural Board of Review approved designs for a McDonald's restaurant on the site of the closed Detroit Theater. The City's Planning Commission may discuss the plans in October.

Update: Lakewood Patch has more information.

The public response was positive at a Wednesday meeting on the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's draft strategic plan. The Port Authority board may vote to adopt the plan at its September 21 meeting.

Three types of fish habitats are being tested in the lower Cuyahoga River through the green bulkheads project. In addition to the plant pockets (CHUBs), Floating Islands and Beemats are in place.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "it shows the kind of stewardship and initiative that have turned what was once a burning river into an environmental movement."

The Ohio EPA intends to ask the U.S. EPA (PDF) to declare that the seven-county Greater Cleveland area is in compliance with 1997 federal fine particle pollution standards. The state's draft redesignation request and maintenance plan (PDF) is available online, and it will hold a public hearing on September 23 in Twinsburg.

State officials are evaluating the 14 proposals from consultants who hope to advise the Kasich administration on the proposed lease of the Ohio Turnpike. They will announce (PDF) the list of finalists on September 23.

Bob Dyer of the Akron Beacon Journal related a critique of ODOT's implementation of Intelligent Transportation System technologies.

The Community Land Trust of Greater Cleveland will merge with Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland. The land trust will become a program of NHSGC.

Update: Neighborhood Housing Services issued a press release.

As anticipated, Team NEO was selected to coordinate economic development activities for the JobsOhio program in 18 Northeast Ohio counties. Team NEO will expand its staff to manage the additional work, and added 13 new trustees, doubling the size of its board. The Ohio Third Frontier Commission gave $4.1 million to Team NEO for 2012. Mark Kvamme, JobsOhio's chief investment officer, visited Independence to explain the changes to local officials. Channel 3's Tom Beres interviewed Mark Kvamme.

NOACA published its latest freeway travel time study (PDF, 24.0 MB). It identified the sections of area freeways with the greatest traffic congestion. The agency released its last travel time study in 2006 (PDF, 49.8 MB).

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Shoreway Commerce Park, developer Mitchell Schneider said that the Cleveland industrial park may soon see an expansion. The redevelopment of the former White Motors plant received a variety of public financial incentives.

A new report from the Planning and Community Health Research Center offers an overview of food policy councils and how planners can participate in them, based on the experiences of efforts in four cities, including the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition.

The News Herald reported on sustainability programs in three east-side Cuyahoga County suburbs: the stormwater management project at Mayfield Heights City Hall, the Mayfield Village Greenway Corridor, and the City of South Euclid's Green Neighborhoods Initiative.

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