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November 2012 Archives

Election recap

This month's election included the following issues (PDF):

In Summit County, Green residents voted to ban casino gambling and horse racing.

Visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for complete results.

The City of Parma and the Cleveland Metroparks received a $149,164 state grant for a constructed wetland project in the Big Creek Reservation. The Metroparks plan to design the wetland this winter and create it next summer.

Developers broke ground on a 135-room Aloft Hotel in the Beachwood portion of the Chagrin Highlands, near Ahuja Medical Center and the new Eaton headquarters. The $12 million building is scheduled to open in fall 2013 as the area's second Aloft Hotel, after the one in the Flats east bank project.

The City of Cleveland issued an RFP for the preparation of a feasibility and implementation study for a bike sharing program. Bicycling advocates praised the announcement, calling it a "progressive step towards making bikes an integral and healthy component of our community's transportation network".

The Port of Cleveland formally commissioned its two debris-removal boats in mid-October. Flotsam and Jetsam will be operated by crews from the Downtown Cleveland Alliance and will patrol the Cuyahoga River's 6.5-mile shipping channel and about five miles of Lake Erie shoreline (PDF). Shortly after their launch, crews used the boats in the cleanup efforts following Hurricane Sandy.

The Cleveland Metroparks are nearing completion of the Watershed Stewardship Center at the West Creek Reservation in Parma. Work on the $11.37 million improvement project began in March 2011. The park also opened three new bridges along a trail, and the West Creek Conservancy finalized its purchase of a small lot at the park's southern end.

MOCA Cleveland celebrated the grand opening of its new University Circle museum in early October. The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt covered the occasion, describing the history of the museum, the project's financial considerations, architect Farshid Moussavi's design approach, and the building's distinctive architecture. MOCA Executive Director Jill Snyder said that the building realizes the museum's goals of transparency, flexibility, and sustainability. A Plain Dealer editorial cheered the opening.

The milestone also attracted national and international attention. It was Farshid Moussavi's first project in the U.S., and she was profiled in W magazine and interviewed by the Architects' Journal. The museum's architecture was highlighted in Art in America, Arch Daily, De Zeen, Wallpaper, and Unbeige, among other publications.

Update: Steven Litt followed up with a critique of the building.

The Cleveland Metroparks commissioners voted to accept the 155-acre Acacia Country Club property from the Conservation Fund. The gift includes the clubhouse building and as much as $500,000. They hope to finalize the transaction in December. The land in Lyndhurst will be preserved as "part of an inner Emerald Necklace". The Metroparks can learn about restoring the golf course from the Geauga Park District, whose Orchard Hills Park is undergoing a similar reclamation and reforestation. A Plain Dealer editorial called the Metroparks "the ideal partner to make Acacia an island of nature for everyone to enjoy."

Update: the Metroparks and the Conservation Fund completed the transfer.

Governor Kasich indicated that he's nearing a decision on privatizing the Ohio Turnpike, and that a consultant's report on how to "unlock the value of the turnpike" should be released before the end of the year. He asked for patience and "a chance to lay things out." Ohio PIRG issued a report that challenged the need for privatization and posed eight questions it says should be "fully addressed before agreeing to privatize the Turnpike or borrowing against its future proceeds." Local officials remain skeptical. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald is still suspicious of the proposal, and some state legislators hope to slow the process. Roldo Bartimole said that privatization represents "class warfare by the upper class," while an editorial in Canton's Repository concluded that "it will take open minds and a spirit of cooperation on both sides to make the right decision."

Update: the Plain Dealer summarized the Ohio PIRG report.

In a feature titled "New Life For the American City", Architectural Record examined how Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland are reinventing themselves. Its exploration of Cleveland included an overview by Steven Litt and closer looks at the Cleveland Museum of Art expansion and the Uptown development. Meanwhile, The Atlantic Cities published a piece on the evolution of University Circle and a response from Rust Belt Chic editors Richey Piiparinen and Anne Trubek. They identified a lack of nuance in reporting about the region, and said that "urban journalism needs to allow for more ambiguity."

Broadview Heights City Council approved a $279,706 contract with URS Corp. for design services for the I-77 interchange project at Route 82. Construction of the proposed interchange is expected to cost around $2.4 million.

The White House announced that the permitting and review processes for RTA's new University Circle-Little Italy Rapid Station will be expedited through the Obama administration's We Can't Wait initiative. The revised processes are expected to shave more than a month from the project timeline.

via Planetizen

The American Planning Association named Shaker Boulevard as one of its great streets for 2012, saying that the 6.75-mile stretch in Cleveland, Shaker Heights, and Beachwood "remains proof of planning's lasting value." The organization celebrates quality places each year through its Great Places in America program, and named the West Side Market as one of the nation's great public spaces in 2008.

The National Park Service added four local properties to the National Register of Historic Places: Neal Terrace, Oppmann Terrace, and the former Richman Bros. factory in Cleveland, and the Euclid Heights Historic District in Cleveland Heights. The Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board nominated an additional eight sites for inclusion, including John Carroll University's North Quad Historic District in University Heights and Baldwin Wallace University's North Campus Historic District in Berea. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Landmarks Commission recommended local historic designations for four east side properties.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General conducted a review of the Cleveland VA's decision to close its Brecksville campus and consolidate its facilities at the Louis Stokes Veterans Affairs Medical Center in University Circle. The review "determined that the decision to completely vacate and close the Brecksville campus and consolidate to the Wade Park campus was not in VA's best interest" because of space, cost, and security issues. It offers a series of recommendations to address the concerns.

Due to unresolved legal questions, Cuyahoga County postponed issuing a request for proposals for the planned wind farm in Lake Erie. The County intends to issue the request for geotechnical services next year.

via GLIN

In a 4-2 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear a state effort to clarify the legal status of JobsOhio. The ruling was a setback to the Kasich administration, which had hoped the ruling would speed its access to $100 million in liquor profits. A Plain Dealer editorial said that this is a "bad time for JobsOhio to be stuck in legal limbo", while an Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that "the justices have made a valid show of restraint."

Meanwhile, JobsOhio President Mark Kvamme announced (PDF) that he would leave the nonprofit development corporation on November 1. The organization's board selected John Minor as his successor. An editorial in Toledo's Blade said that "only time can tell whether Mr. Kvamme's legacy is written in stone or quicksand."

At a recent City Club panel discussion, outgoing Congressman Steve LaTourette said that he favors raising the gas tax to help meet funding needs for roads and other transportation infrastructure.

A consultant for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority said that drying and mounding dredged sediment could add 20 years of capacity to existing confined disposal facilities, alleviating the need for new disposal sites. The Port also continues to explore opportunities for reusing the material.

The Cleveland Foundation awarded $21.6 million in its third-quarter grants. The awards include $10 million for a new medical school at Case Western Reserve University and $500,000 for the St. Luke's Pointe project. The CWRU grant is the foundation's largest ever and first in a series of large grants the foundation will make to mark its centennial in 2014.

The Ohio Department of Transportation announced that it will direct $12 million toward the relocation of West 73rd Street and the construction an underpass, part of the West Shoreway reconstruction plans. It's the final piece of funding needed to link West 73rd Street with Edgewater Park. Construction of the $34.8 million project is scheduled to begin next summer.

The City of Cleveland awarded a design-build contract to Grindline Construction of Seattle for the $758,250 Crooked River Skate Park in the Flats. The 15,000-square-foot skatepark will be adjacent to the Cleveland Metroparks' Rivergate Park. A spring 2013 groundbreaking is planned, and a Plain Dealer editorial said it "will be money well-spent."

University Circle institutions relaunched the Greater Circle Living initiative, a program that provides incentives to employees who make their homes in University Circle and its surrounding neighborhoods. Participants are now eligible for increased financial assistance. The program began in 2008.

Update: University Circle Inc. issued a press release.

The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority is building 4,200 solar panels on a six-acre site adjacent to its headquarters at Kinsman Avenue and East 82nd Street. The one-megawatt array is expected to cover 70% to 80% of the building's electricity needs.

In a paper, Alan Mallach of the Brookings Institution presented the case for targeted urban demolition programs, saying that "large-scale demolition, thoughtfully and responsibly carried out, is a necessary step in the process of rebuilding the nation's distressed older cities." A short report (PDF) prepared for the City of Cleveland highlighted the costs of housing abandonment and demolition. Local officials used the report to advocate for increased federal support, while others questioned the report's conclusions.

Update: the Plain Dealer clarified Councilman Tony Brancatelli's position on the report.

The U.S. Census Bureau released findings from the 2011 American Community Survey. The one-year estimates feature data on more than 40 topics for all counties and places with populations of 65,000 or more. The Census Bureau also published several briefs on specific topics. Between 2010 and 2011 at the national level, the number of people in poverty grew, income inequality increased, and median household incomes declined. Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institution examined the patterns by metropolitan area. In Ohio, median household income decreased and poverty rates rose, remaining high in the state's largest cities. Cuyahoga County experienced a slight decrease in median household income and a slight drop in its percentage of families in poverty.

Voters on Tuesday will decide Issue 108, a five-year, 0.67 mill tax levy for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. Will Friedman, the Port's CEO, spoke with Mark Naymik of the Plain Dealer and with Fresh Water's Douglas Trattner. He and other stakeholders participated in a Sound of Ideas show on the levy, and he answered questions at the Civic Commons. Editorials in the Plain Dealer and Sun Newspapers endorsed the levy, while Michael D. Roberts criticized it in Cleveland Magazine, Inside Business, and Scene.

After reaching a compromise with City officials and historic preservationists, the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved Cleveland State University's plans to demolish the Wolfe Music Building and Viking Hall. The mitigation agreement calls for the University to salvage elements of the Wolfe Music Building and establish a historic preservation certificate program. CSU and NEOMED plan to build the $45 million Center for Innovation in Health Professions on the site, and three competing architecture firms recently presented concepts for the new building. Steven Litt said that the institutions' design process is not likely to lead to an iconic structure.

The City of University Heights hired the firm of D.B. Hartt, Inc. to work on an overhaul of its 60-year-old planning and zoning code. The three-phase project will cost an estimated $60,000.

Local and federal officials participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for RTA's replacement Cedar-University rapid transit station, formerly known as the University Circle station. The $18.5 million rebuild of the station at the foot of Cedar Hill includes a relocation of its associated bus terminal. Funding for the project includes a $10.5 million federal TIGER grant. Construction is expected to take around two years.

Fresh Water recently asked if Ohio City's West 25th Street will be able to maintain its authenticity, and looked at five important public spaces in Cleveland.

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