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September 2012 Archives

RTA introduced three new routes for its free trolley-like buses in downtown Cleveland and expanded their operating hours to include evenings and weekends. The C-Line trolley is intended to serve casino and convention visitors, the L-Line provides connections to lakefront destinations, and the NineTwelve Line links office workers to large parking facilities. RTA raised $720,000 from local sponsors as a match for $2.88 million in federal funding to operate the expanded service for three years.

Lake County Common Pleas Judge Eugene Lucci issued a ruling (PDF) in Merrill v. Ohio, the Lake Erie property lines case, which was remanded to his court by the Ohio Supreme Court last year. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is appealing the decision. Lakefront property owners praised the ruling and denounced the decision to appeal.

Broadview Heights residents will vote on a charter amendment that would prohibit new natural gas and oil wells in the City. City Council unanimously voted to put the issue on the ballot against the advice of the City's law director, who said it would be be unenforceable if adopted due to a 2004 state law that eliminated local controls. A group called Mothers Against Drilling In Our Neighborhoods is urging residents to approve the issue, which will appear on the November ballot as Issue 29. Other Ohio communities are also seeking ways to reclaim local control over drilling. Stakeholders discussed the issues on a recent Sound of Ideas show.

The City of North Royalton and the Cleveland Metroparks are purchasing the 14-acre Aukerman Farm property for $219,000. The site on York Road is adjacent to the Metroparks' Brecksville Reservation. Middleburg Heights City Council is considering a similar action that would protect a one-acre property near Big Creek.

The National Park Service announced that environmental remediation of the former Krejci Dump site in Boston Heights has been completed and that its final restoration should be mostly finished before the end of the year. Since work began in 2005, workers have removed about 371,000 tons of contaminated soils from the 46-acre site. The area will be opened to the public next year.

Through its Wildwood Stream and Wetland Restoration Project, the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District is working to establish a 2.5-acre wetland and several smaller wetlands in Wildwood Lakefront State Park in Cleveland. The project is funded by a $1.4 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant.

Fast Track Cycling celebrated the opening of the Cleveland Velodrome on August 30, and it held its first competitive cycling event on September 15. The track in Slavic Village is the only velodrome in Ohio.

Update: Neighborhood Progress Inc. has more information.

Cuyahoga County awarded nearly $1.5 million in competitive municipal grants. The CDBG-based funding includes $350,000 for infrastructure improvements in Maple Heights, $350,000 for sewer separation in Newburgh Heights, and $150,000 to Parma Heights for a connector trail.

The City of Cleveland plans to stripe five-foot-wide bike lanes on a 1.7-mile stretch of Detroit Avenue between West 25th Street and Lake Avenue. Local bicyclists support the proposal, calling it "a step forward for Cleveland". Meanwhile, the Bellaire-Puritas Development Corp. is working with City Architecture to improve the walkability of Lorain Avenue.

The revised preliminary development plan for the new American Greetings headquarters building at Crocker Park was approved, first by the Westlake Planning Commission and then by Westlake City Council. The company also will soon receive the second half of $2.5 million state grant.

At a late-August press conference, Governor Kasich announced plans to employ a public-private partnership to build the second new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland. The Ohio Department of Transportation will seek an engineering, construction, and financing team for the $332 million project. The financing option has been used in 29 other states, but it's the first time Ohio has used it. The second bridge is now scheduled to built between 2014 and 2016, the project's original timeline. In January, ODOT said it work would not begin until 2023, and in June changed it to 2016. A Plain Dealer editorial called it promising news.

Five northern Summit County communities are considering a settlement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District about the district's stormwater management program. The City of Hudson and Sagamore Hills Township approved the settlement, but it will not take effect until it's signed by the other three communities. Editorials in the Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal urge the Summit County communities to approve the agreement and encourage a group of Cuyahoga County communities to drop their legal challenge.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded a $132,000 grant to support the Cleveland Seasonal High Tunnel Pilot Project, an initiative to build hoop houses. A consortium of agricultural lending institutions added a $135,000 grant to assist beginning urban farmers.

Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed envisions that his Mount Pleasant neighborhood could become an arts and entertainment district and a destination for visitors seeking an African-American experience.

Ohio Turnpike Commission Executive Director Richard Hodges said that he favors using the toll road's revenues to help pay for other transportation projects in the state. Others continue to oppose the idea.

In a recent report, the Greater New Orleans Data Center examined the City of New Orleans' progress in reducing its number of blighted properties, and compared the numbers to those of other cities, including Cleveland.

The Charter One Foundation awarded $100,000 in grants to area neighborhood nonprofits through its Growing Communities program. They include funding for projects in Cleveland and in Lakewood's Birdtown neighborhood.

Rock Ohio Caesars unveiled plans for an $88 million upgrade of its Thistledown racetrack in North Randall. The company plans to add 1,150 video lottery terminals, a restaurant, two food courts, and a lounge. The Ohio Casino Control Commission approved the financing for the renovations. Company representatives said that they've made no determinations about a possible relocation, and that no decision was imminent.

In Summit County, residents in Green will vote on a charter amendment that would ban gambling in the city. Rock Ohio Caesars has the option to relocate Thistledown to a location within a 12-mile radius of the Akron-Canton Airport in Green. Meanwhile, Northfield Park submitted plans to the Village of Northfield for a 200,000-square-foot expansion of its facilities.

Update: the Plain Dealer described the issues in Green.

Leaders in North Olmsted are considering legislation that would establish a tax increment financing district for the area around Great Northern Mall. Under the proposal, tax revenue generated by new projects in the district would be used for infrastructure improvements in and around the district.

Update: it would be the first TIF district in North Olmsted.

Last month, local officials celebrated the groundbreaking for an urban farm at West 41st Street and Memphis Avenue in Cleveland's Old Brooklyn neighborhood. Koinonia Homes, in partnership with the City of Cleveland and the Cuyahoga Land Bank, will operate an urban farm at the 2.3-acre site of the former Memphis School. The vocational farm will include eight fields, two greenhouses, and a poultry building. A Plain Dealer editorial said it shows "what effective incubators for positive change collaboration and innovation can be."

Cuyahoga County's Jack Schron and Larry Benders discussed the County's role in economic development at a recent City Club forum. Audio (MP3, 54.1 MB) and video of the talk are available.

Baldwin Wallace University dedicated its new R. Amelia Harding House for Sustainable Living. The renovated residence hall incorporates green building features, and the University hopes the project will receive LEED gold certification.

WCPN reports that most new industrial investments in Ohio are occurring in places other than Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

Preservation Ohio's annual list of the state's most endangered properties includes two in Cuyahoga County: the Stanley Block in downtown Cleveland and the Warner & Swasey Observatory in East Cleveland. Both buildings also appeared on last year's list.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced that it is freeing states to use $473 million in unspent highway earmarks. The funds were appropriated by Congress between 2003 and 2006, but remain unused. States can now use the money for other other transportation projects, and must identify plans by October 1. Ohio's share of the funding is $12.5 million.

Through its new Owner Occupant Buyer Advantage Program, the Cuyahoga Land Bank is offering houses in its inventory to prospective owner-occupants. The selected houses require renovations, but not major repairs. A Plain Dealer editorial said that "it's homeowners, especially those with sweat equity in their properties and plans to stay for the long term, who really rebuild neighborhoods."

The Rotary Club of Cleveland hopes to build a three-mile greenway and trail along the RTA Red Line tracks, eventually connecting downtown Cleveland to the Zone Recreation Center. Members prepared a video about their accomplishments and plans.

Update: the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy described the project.

The Ohio Department of Transportation issued the first documents in its Access Ohio 2040 long-range transportation plan. The PDFs include a demographic profile, a best practices paper, and two technical reports. They're also conducting a transportation preferences survey.

The Ohio EPA declared that brownfield remediation has been completed at the 21-acre Midland Steel property on Madison Avenue and at a 6-acre property at the second phase of the Midtown Tech Park on Euclid Avenue. The agency is also considering a request for an Urban Setting Designation at the former Penguin Cleaners site on Mayfield Road in Lyndhurst. The property was redeveloped as a Key Bank branch in 2010.

Fresh Water began a series on Cleveland neighborhoods by asking whether Slavic Village will be the City's next hot neighborhood.

NOACA recently posted two plans conducted with TLCI funding: the East 55th and Euclid Avenue Crossroads Study (PDF, 26.8 MB), which calls for redeveloping the area as the Penn Square District, and also a full version of the West Park/Lorain Avenue Transportation & Redevelopment Plan (PDF, 41.5 MB). At the Civic Commons, NOACA shared details about the program and its projects. The agency is currently evaluating the program.

The Architect's Newspaper looked at downtown redevelopment in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus, and asked if it marked "the beginning of a Rust Belt rebound."

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