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May 2012 Archives

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority hired Lake Assault Boats of Wisconsin to build two aluminum work boats. They will be used to remove floating debris (PDF) from the Cuyahoga River and downtown Cleveland shoreline, and will be named Flotsam and Jetsam. The boats are expected to be ready by late summer.

Construction of bikeway improvements to Cleveland's Lorain-Carnegie Bridge will begin soon. The $4.5 million project is intended to make the bridge more friendly to bicyclists and pedestrians. Some Tremont residents are frustrated by the amount of road construction.

Update: the Plain Dealer shared more details.

The City of Lakewood began the process of updating its 20-year-old Community Vision document (PDF) at its first Community Vision Workshop. Around 75 residents participated, sharing what they love about Lakewood, as well as their hopes and worries about the city.

The Civic Commons Radio Show explored the complexities of development financing in today's market, using the Flats East Bank and Uptown projects in Cleveland as examples. Developer Ari Maron also spoke about development financing at the recent Neighborhood Solutions Summit.

Berea City Council unanimously approved a new zoning code and map, completing the revision process begun in 2010.

Urban agriculture continues to rise in Cleveland neighborhoods.

Local officials celebrated the reopening of the renovated Sylvia Apartments on Franklin Avenue in Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood. The $3 million project reconfigured the building, reducing its number of units from 24 to 18. The apartments will be mixed-income rentals.

Saying that "much of what [its] founders set out to accomplish is being carried forward by thousands of network participants in their new and existing organizations", Entrepreneurs for Sustainability announced that it will close this spring.

The recently-launched Cleveland 2030 District aims to create a high-performance building district in downtown Cleveland. The project's organizers set goals for reducing energy usage, water usage, and carbon emissions in new and existing buildings and infrastructure.

Southwest General broke ground on its $128 million expansion project. It includes a new emergency room, a critical care unit, and an underground parking garage. Construction is scheduled for completion in late 2015. Meanwhile, MetroHealth began construction of its Middleburg Heights November Family Health Center. When its first building opens next year, the 57,000-square-foot facility will replace the Strongsville Health Center.

Liveable streets and alternative transportation advocate Mark Gorton spoke at the City Club. He said that Cleveland leaders could easily and inexpensively make the City more friendly to bicyclists and walkers, and that overemphasizing the movement of cars is harmful to cities. The City Club posted video of his talk and the panel discussion that followed.

Update: audio of the forum (MP3, 84.2 MB) is also available.

With the opening of a 0.6-mile section of the Towpath Trail in Barberton, Summit County became the first county to complete its construction of the trail. A variety of events will be held on July 7 to celebrate the milestone (PDF). The City of Akron completed its portion of the construction last year.

Under guidelines released by the Ohio Attorney General's office, Cuyahoga County is eligible to receive $11.85 million of the $75 million the office budgeted to assist communities in the demolition of abandoned houses. The funds will be awarded on August 1. A Plain Dealer editorial said that the Cuyahoga Land Bank is the "perfect entity to administer the demolition grant."

HBO recently aired The Weight of the Nation, a four-part documentary on obesity in the United States, and made the series available online. It highlighted the 24-year disparity in life expectancy between Hough and Lyndhurst. A panel discussed the issues at the Great Lakes Science Center, and the City of Cleveland held its first Healthy Cleveland Summit. Earlier this year, the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods issued a set of three data briefs that describe health trends in Cleveland neighborhoods. A Plain Dealer editorial urged coordinated regional action to promote healthy lifestyle choices.

Bike Cleveland is working with Cleveland City Council on a a package of measures intended to enhance safety for cyclists. One portion of the ordinance would require motorists to give cyclists a three-foot passing clearance.

Lakewood officials are focusing on maintaining the quality of the City's housing stock. They recently completed a citywide housing survey, which rated the condition of 12,661 homes (PDF). They also held a community forum to discuss the City's housing strategy and assistance programs available to residents. The fourth annual Old House Fair took place earlier this month, as well.

The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt said that "it makes sense to explore" a proposed sale and possible hotel conversion of the Cleveland Board of Education Building, and that the building is a good candidate for adaptive reuse.

A consultant for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority is preparing a study that will recommend storage and reuse options for dredge material from the Cuyahoga River. The Port's Cleveland Harbor Dredge Task Force continues to meet quarterly.

As anticipated, the U.S. EPA designated an eight-county Greater Cleveland region as a marginal nonattainment area under 2008 federal ozone standards. The area must meet the new limits within three years. Meanwhile, the Ohio EPA intends to ask the U.S. EPA to declare (PDF) that six Greater Cleveland counties meet 2006 federal fine particulate standards. The Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing on May 21.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal has more information about the proposed fine particulate redesignation.

The company that manages the electrical grid from Ohio to the East Coast determined that FirstEnergy's plans to shut down three area coal-fired power plants in September would create reliability problems and that the plants will remain open until April 2015. FirstEnergy's revised plans include the installation of combustion turbines at its Eastlake plant.

The cost of a consultant's study of the Ohio Turnpike increased again, rising from $2.85 million to $3.4 million. A Plain Dealer editorial questioned the added cost and the underlying fairness of privatizing the Turnpike. Meanwhile, Cuyahoga County Executive FitzGerald said that more counties have expressed interest in participating in an alternate study.

On March 26, the board of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority appointed Jeffery K. Patterson as its new CEO (PDF). Former agency head George Phillips-Olivier was recently sentenced to 10 months in prison for lying to the FBI. A Plain Dealer editorial said that the board has suffered from a "lack of oversight and accountability".

While parking lot operators in downtown Cleveland are raising prices because of expected increases in demand, they don't anticipate a shortage of parking. Ken Silliman, Mayor Jackson's chief of staff, said that "a significant part of the new demand can be met by existing garage and lots" and that the administration is "building the city around the movement of people more than the movement of cars." Jason Russell of the Civic Commons called for taking "a more pragmatic approach to parking."

Judge Pianka of Cleveland Housing Court ordered Macron Investment Co., the partnership that owns the Stanley Block in downtown Cleveland, to either repair or demolish the historic building. In a related decision, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge ruled in March that the ownership is evenly divided between the Maloof and Anter families and casino developer Rock Ohio Caesars.

The City of Shaker Heights hired Berusch Development Partners of Cleveland Heights to help develop plans for a walkable, mixed-use business district as part of the Warrensville-Van Aken intersection reconfiguration project.

By a vote of 59-38, the Ohio House of Representatives approved implementing legislation for the Great Lakes Compact. The bill, which includes limits on water withdrawals from Lake Erie and its tributaries, now moves to the Ohio Senate. Environmental groups maintain their objections to provisions of the legislation, calling it "an unbalanced bill". An editorial in Toledo's Blade said the bill is "not good enough", while Plain Dealer editorials encourage the Senate to "examine deficiencies glossed over in the House" and criticize State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann's involvement.

Update: another Plain Dealer editorial says that "lawmakers must dig deeper and fix the flaws" in the bill and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "Ohio Senate still has an opportunity to craft improved legislation".

The American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report again gave Cuyahoga County an F for its ozone levels, while the county's grade for particulate pollution improved to a D. Air quality in the eight-county Cleveland metropolitan area continued to improve, but was ranked as having the nation's 14th-highest level of year-round particulate pollution. Nationwide, cities reported the lowest levels of air pollution in the 13-year history of the report.

One year into its three-year timeline, the 12-county Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium is starting to shift from organization and data collection to public engagement around regional planning and urban sprawl. A Plain Dealer editorial highlighted the need for regional unity, while Marc Lefkowitz wondered whether members will create a new vision and inspire action. Stephen Hambley, Hunter Morrison, and Brad Whitehead discussed the consortium on WCPN's Sound of Ideas. The consortium has held several events for young leaders across Northeast Ohio, and will host an event in Cleveland on May 16.

Update: Steve Hoffman of the Akron Beacon Journal said that "pushing ahead [with regionalism] may be the only option for major metropolitan areas."

As the Variety Theater in Cleveland continues to undergo a slow renovation process, the stretch of Lorain Avenue between West 110th and West 130th streets has been experiencing a revitalization.

The Beachwood Planning and Zoning Commission approved plans for a 70,000-square-foot Aloft Hotel in the Chagrin Highlands. The developer hopes to break ground for the four-story hotel in July and complete construction the following summer.

The lakefront plan recently adopted by the City of Cleveland includes a floating office harbor west of Burke Lakefront Airport. Planners hope it can attract innovative companies and talent.

Update: WKSU reported on LeanDog's floating office in the former Hornblower's restaurant.

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