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Cleveland Neighborhood Progress awarded $340,000 to nine community development corporations in Cleveland for greenspace improvement projects. The selected projects (PDF) will convert vacant lots into usable green spaces this year. Funding was provided by Wells Fargo, as part of their 2012 fair housing settlement.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and the Cleveland Metroparks will have tax levies on the November ballot in Cuyahoga County. The Port Authority's board of directors voted to place a 0.13-mill renewal issue on the ballot. Voters rejected a 0.67-mill levy last year. The Plain Dealer published an op-ed by Ed FitzGerald and Frank Jackson in support of the issue, and another by Jack Boyle and Jim Trutko in opposition.

The Cleveland Metroparks commissioners voted to place a 2.7-mill levy on the ballot, a 1.8-mill renewal and a 0.9-mill increase. The Metroparks' last levy request was in 2004. Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman recently spoke about the parks at the City Club (video, audio (MP3, 51.5 MB)).

Metro Parks, Serving Summit County will also have a renewal levy on the November ballot.

A ribbon-cutting celebration for the Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek was held in June. The 18,000-square-foot building "is dedicated to promoting healthy urban watersheds through science, education, research and restoration", and was developed through a partnership between the Cleveland Metroparks, NEORSD and the West Creek Conservancy (formerly the West Creek Preservation Committee). They anticipate it will receive a LEED Gold rating. The facility in Parma is open to the public on Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., free of charge.

Management of the former Cleveland Lakefront State Park was formally transferred to the Cleveland Metroparks. Edgewater Park, Gordon Park, and the East 55th Street Marina formed the Metroparks' new Lakefront Reservation, while Euclid Beach Park, Villa Angela Park, and Wildwood Park became part of Euclid Creek Reservation. The City of Cleveland continues to own the parks, leasing them to the Metroparks at $1 per year for 99 years. Visitors have noticed improvements in the condition of Edgewater Park.

Update: Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman outlined his vision for the lakefront parks.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced that they would work together to implement plans for downtown Cleveland development. The $350 million investment includes a 600-to-700-room hotel on the site of the County Administration Building at Lakeside Avenue and Ontario Street. The $260 million hotel would be attached to the new convention center. The action plan also includes implementation of plans for Public Square and the Malls, plus the construction of a lakefront connector bridge and a parking garage.

Seventeen architecture firms responded to Cuyahoga County's request for qualifications, and a committee recommended that Cooper Carry of Atlanta should design the hotel. Representatives of the firm were in Cleveland on August 8, where they gathered input from residents at a public forum.

Steven Litt said that "Cleveland finally seems to be getting the message" about the importance of vital public spaces, and said that the City should establish a set of urban design guidelines to preserve and enhance downtown views. He also said that the hotel represents "one of the most important design challenges in Cleveland in many years." In Crain's Cleveland Business, Jay Miller said that the partnership's success "will depend on continuing cooperation between city and county government," Stan Bullard compiled reactions from hotel operators, and Brian Tucker said that the new hotel must be more than "another lifeless rectangular box in our skyline." A Plain Dealer editorial praised the plans, while Roldo Bartimole denounced them.

In its second annual ParkScore index, the Trust for Public Land rated the park systems of the nation's 50 largest cities. It gave the City of Cleveland a score of 50/100, the 25th-highest ranking. The top-ranked cities were Minneapolis and New York. Fresno and Louisville received the lowest scores. Cleveland was not included in last year's rankings.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Superintendent Stan Austin was promoted to director of the National Park Service's Southeast Region. Cheryl Schreier from the Mount Rushmore National Memorial is serving as acting superintendent.

The reforestation process is underway at the Cleveland Metroparks' new Acacia Reservation in Lyndhurst. It may take 40 years for the 155-acre park to mature. A Sun News editorial called it "exactly the best outcome for the Acacia property."

The federally-funded Wildwood Lacustrine Refuge Stream and Wetland Restoration Project in Cleveland is in its final stages. The Euclid Creek Watershed Program Partners planned a July 10 celebration, but it was rescheduled due to inclement weather, and will now be a part of the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District's annual Conservation Day on September 21.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park completed its trail management plan. Its preferred alternative calls for 37 miles of new trails, including 11 new hiking trails, 12 short interpretive trails, two cross-country ski trails, five connector trails, and three links into neighboring residential areas.

West Life looked at how Lakewood's Birdtown neighborhood has become home to independent businesses and an urban farm. Lakewood City Council is considering a proposal to create a mixed use zoning overlay for the neighborhood.

Update: residents and city officials discussed neighborhood issues at a community meeting.

Parma's Stearns Homestead is partnering with Cleveland Crops to establish a 17-acre urban farm at the historic site. The farm will grow fruits and vegetables, and will be the largest of Cleveland Crops' eight urban farms.

Cleveland City Council approved transferring management of Cleveland Lakefront State Park to the Cleveland Metroparks (PDF). The 99-year lease agreement covers Wildwood, Villa Angela, Euclid Beach, Gordon, and Edgewater parks and the East 55th Street Marina, plus the transfer of $14 million in state funding to the Metroparks.

Update: the Cleveland Metroparks Commissioners approved a step toward completing the transfer. Endorsement of the final agreement is expected in June.

The latest draft of Public Square redesign concept aims to unify the square. It calls for closing the section of Ontario Street that currently bisects the square, adding trees and grass, and creating new attractions. Landscape architect James Corner's Field Operations will continue to refine the plans. A Plain Dealer editorial supports the ideas, and Channel 5's Leon Bibb said he's "a fan of the proposal."

Update: The Architect's Newspaper described the proposal.

Update 2: WKSU aired a report on the Public Square plans.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park received 2,299,722 visits in 2012, keeping it among the nation's most-visited national parks. A National Park Service report said that visitors in 2011 spent $51,473,000 in communities surrounding the park and supported 728 jobs.

Two new reports highlight the importance of the Clean Ohio program. An economic analysis conducted by the Trust for Public Land found that that the program returned $4 for every $1 invested in its land conservation portion. A second report by Greater Ohio said that the program's brownfield revitalization portion has "generated substantial direct and indirect economic impacts."

The Cities of Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland will use funds from a mortgage fraud settlement to raze distressed houses and apartments in the North Coventry neighborhood. The properties will remain as greenspace. A Sun News editorial said the effort represents "regional collaboration at its finest".

The Cleveland Metroparks recently acquired two wetland properties. A 26-acre site on Engle Road in Middleburg Heights is now part of the Big Creek Reservation, and the 20-acre Heron Rookery wetland along the east branch of the Rocky River in North Royalton is now part of the Mill Stream Run Reservation. Funding for the Middleburg Heights purchase came from a legal settlement, and funding for the North Royalton conservation easement was provided by the WRSSP and NRAC.

The proposed Eastside Greenway would connect 14 communities in eastern Cuyahoga County through a network of parks, greenspace, and trails.

Governor Kasich's two-year budget plan calls for investing $500 million from Ohio Turnpike-backed bonds by 2015. The governor initially said that 90% of the funds would be spent in northern Ohio, but ODOT Director Jerry Wray called the figure a "foolish expectation." Statehouse Democrats accused the administration of misleading Ohioans and said that the percentages should be specified in the bill. Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt said that the proposal is not good public policy, and U.S. Represenative Tim Ryan called it short-sighted and risky. The Turnpike Commission is preparing to issue the bonds.

The budget includes a provision that would return control of Cleveland Lakefront State Park to the City of Cleveland (PDF) and provide $14 million for the parks. Plain Dealer columnist Mark Naymik said that legislators should embrace the proposal, and an editorial called it a win-win deal.

Proposed changes to state sales tax laws could affect RTA's finances.

The New York Times looked at the League Park renovations underway in Cleveland, describing how the City plans to honor its rich baseball heritage.

A new report from the Western Reserve Land Conservancy examined the status of land conservation in a 14-county Northeast Ohio region. It found that the area has preserved about 7% of its land, well below recommended levels. The report also explored farmland preservation, urban sprawl, and other challenges and opportunities. It concluded that "the need to wisely preserve the best of our undeveloped land has never been more urgent."

Northeast Shores Development Corporation posted the Euclid Creek Vision Plan (PDF, 47.8 MB), prepared by MKSK of Columbus. It's intended to offer "a compelling design that looked both inside and outside the park's boundaries to build momentum for capital improvements to the park."

By participating in the state's Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District has saved about $3 million in interest on loans, while providing funding for 22 local habitat preservation and restoration projects.

Broadview Heights City Council is considering an ordinance that would establish a special planning district for the proposed town center at the intersection of Broadview and Royalton roads. The district's zone A is a 100-acre mixed-use area around the intersection, and zone B is a 200-acre office/multi-family area surrounding zone A. City Council also recently approved the purchase of a 1.24-acre site in the special planning district for a planned park. A separate ordinance would create zone C, a corridor that would connect the town center area with the area around the Giant Eagle store.

Project partners celebrated the completion of major restoration work on an unnamed tributary of Tinkers Creek in Hudson. The restored 2,000-foot stream near Hudson High School will improve water quality and reduce flooding, while serving as a living lab for students.

In Portage County, the City of Aurora will receive $4.7 million through the state's Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program to restore and protect more than a mile of the Aurora branch of the Chagrin River. The City will purchase 186 acres of the Aurora Golf Club to restore stream banks, forested areas, and wetlands.

The Cleveland Metroparks could take control of Cleveland Lakefront State Park as soon as early 2013. Metroparks Executive Director Brian Zimmerman said that he can't estimate when the park district would make a decision on the potential transfer, and Pros Consulting presented recommendations in a business plan for Edgewater Park (PDF). The Plain Dealer's Mark Naymik said that "now is the best time" for state and Metroparks leaders to reach an agreement.

The Gund Foundation's November grant awards included $5 million for the Cleveland Museum of Art's expansion, $500,000 for Land Studio to continue its downtown Cleveland greenspace and trail planning, and $75,000 for Bike Cleveland.

The renovation of Cleveland's historic League Park is underway. The $6.3 million project at East 66th Street and Lexington Avenue will include restoration of the ballpark's playing field, ticket house, and grandstand wall, plus the creation of a new community park and visitors center. It's scheduled to open next September.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A Cleveland Botanical Garden program was one of eight projects recently certified by the Sustainable Sites Initiative, a national rating system for sustainable built landscapes. It's the first project in Ohio to receive the designation. Eleven projects have achieved certification in the initiative's two-year pilot program.

Scene explored the state of Cleveland Lakefront State Park, looking at current conditions as well as proposals for improvements and the impediments to change. Mark Naymik of the Plain Dealer also continued to draw attention to the park's needs.

Shareholders at Acacia Country Club in Lyndhurst approved a sale of the property to the Conservation Fund for $14.75 million. The 160-acre property had been considered a prime development site. Mayor Cicero opposed the sale, saying that development on the site would increase the City's tax base. The nonprofit Conservation Fund pledged to preserve the property as greenspace, and may donate it to the Cleveland Metroparks. Acacia members described the process as "emotional and stressful", but a Sun News editorial said they made the correct decision.

Update: Mayor Cicero said he's "glad the Metroparks are involved."

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.

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.

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."

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 Cleveland Rowing Foundation completed the sale of 2.4 acres at Rivergate Park to the Cleveland Metroparks. The park district will operate its Institute of the Great Outdoors at the new park in the Flats.

Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt praised downtown Cleveland's redesigned Perk Park, calling it "a powerful demonstration of why it's essential to make more places like it throughout the city's heart." Channel 3 also reported from the park on a Walnut Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Cleveland residents and officials celebrated the reopening of the redesigned outdoor spaces at the Michael J. Zone Recreation Center. The $3 million project (PDF) in the EcoVillage combines active recreation with green infrastructure.

The West Creek Preservation Committee soon may purchase a 60,800-square-foot lot near the southern end of the Cleveland Metroparks West Creek Reservation in Parma. Adding the property to the park will create more options for extending the West Creek Greenway Trail.

The National Endowment for the Arts awarded a $50,000 Our Town grant to the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. The funds will be used to to design an affordable artist live/work space in the Templin Bradley Building on Detroit Avenue. The Cleveland Botanical Garden received a $59,680 grant from the U.S. EPA to improve 12 vacant lots in Cleveland and reduce stormwater runoff.

In a pair of recent columns, the Plain Dealer's Mark Naymik drew attention to the "poor condition of the Cleveland lakefront park system" and said that the state should turn control of the parks over to the Cleveland Metroparks. An editorial in the newspaper agreed with his assessment, saying that "the lakefront parks belong under the Metroparks umbrella." Participants on Wednesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the issues.

Update: Mark Naymik continued his focus on the parks, saying that the state "either has to find the money to fix our parks right or it should abandon the management of them," and writing about discussions between ODNR and Cleveland Metroparks officials. Roldo Bartimole, on the other hand, said that the "task should be to force the State of Ohio to do the job it promised to do when it took the parkland from the city. And that was to operate them efficiently and to the benefit of citizens of northeast Ohio."

In its trail planning process, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park prepared and considered eight alternatives and selected a preferred alternative. The plan's objective is to balance the needs for active recreation opportunities and environmental stewardship over the next 15 years. The Draft Trail Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement is available online and open to public comment until August 20. The National Park will hold three public meetings in late July.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal published more information about the trail plans and reported on the public meetings.

Consultants for the City of Cleveland released the results of their transportation study of downtown Cleveland's Public Square. The study (PDF) conducted by Nelson Nygaard recommends closing the portion of Ontario Street that runs through the square and retaining the stretch of Superior Avenue. Steven Litt said that the "study has taken Cleveland one step closer to a better downtown," and RTA said it "will continue to work closely with the consultants and other involved stakeholders regarding any changes to Public Square."

Acacia Country Club shareholders narrowly rejected a $12 million purchase offer from the Visconsi Companies. The retail developer does not plan to make another offer for the 160-acre property in Lyndhurst.

The Cleveland Metroparks celebrated the opening of Royalview Trail, a 10.1-mile mountain bike trail in the Mill Stream Run Reservation in Strongsville. The trail cost about $50,000 and took nine months to build.

Several local construction projects celebrated milestones:

Update: The Ohio Department of Transportation began work on bicycle and pedestrian improvements to the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge in Cleveland.

As part of its mid-biennium review, the Ohio Senate added $42 million for the Clean Ohio program. The spending bill includes $36 million for greenspace preservation and $6 million for farmland preservation. Earlier legislation had budgeted only $6 million for trail maintenance.

In the final round of funding from the Clean Ohio Brownfield Revitalization Fund, the Ohio Department of Development awarded more than $19 million in grants to 11 projects. The City of Cleveland received $1.3 million for demolition and remediation (PDF) at the former Van Dorn property on East 79th Street. The Orlando Baking Company plans to expand onto the property. Food service supplier S.S. Kemp in Cuyahoga Heights was not awarded a grant.

Meanwhile, the Ohio EPA declared that Horsburgh & Scott completed brownfield remediation of its 1.4-acre property (PDF) on Hamilton Avenue in Cleveland.

Update: Governor Kasich signed Ohio House Bill 487, the mid-biennium review.

Urban agriculture continues to rise in Cleveland neighborhoods.

On Wednesday, members of a City Club panel discussed urban agriculture and sustainability in Cleveland (MP3, 74.5 MB). Will Allen of Growing Power had been scheduled to participate, but was unable to attend.

The Cleveland Rowing Foundation will transfer ownership and operations of a 2.8-acre portion of its Rivergate Park in the Flats to the Cleveland Metroparks. It is part of an existing and planned network of greenspaces and trails along the lower Cuyahoga River. The Rowing Foundation will continue its boathouse and rowing operations on the remainder of the 6.5-acre site.

Update: WKSU and Fresh Water reported on the new park, and the Metroparks posted video of the press conference.

Despite urges from across the state, the Ohio Senate approved a $1.74 billion capital budget that included minimal funding for the Clean Ohio program. The future of the program is unclear.

Update: a Columbus Dispatch editorial noted that the program remains popular with the public.

Update 2: an editorial in Toledo's Blade says that the "program deserves better".

Update 3: a Plain Dealer editorial urges state legislators to approve bond sales for the program.

A report (PDF) from the National Park Service says that in 2010, the 2.5 million visitors to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park spent $54.7 million in and around the park, supporting 829 jobs.

The Visconsi Companies, a local shopping center developer, is offering to purchase the Acacia Country Club property in Lyndhurst for $11 million. Members rejected a $10 million offer in 2010.

The Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, formerly known as Dike 14, officially opened last week (PDF). The 88-acre man-made peninsula provides urban wildlife habitat and features a 1.3-mile walking trail. The site was created from dredge material deposited in the confined disposal facility from 1979 to 1999.

Cleveland residents asked questions about the City's new lakefront plans at a public meeting last week. Meanwhile, Lute Harmon of Inside Business advocated for following Chicago's example and reserving the waterfront for public uses.

Two Summit County brothers turned their 105-acre family farm into wetlands, and recently donated the Panzer Wetland Wildlife Reserve in Copley Township to the University of Akron. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial praised their work.

Because its funding was transferred to the governor's JobsOhio program, the Clean Ohio program is no longer accepting applications. State leaders have not identified a replacement source of funding for the popular program. An editorial in Youngstown's Vindicator says that officials shouldn't allow the program to end.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that neglecting the Clean Ohio program "would amount to another blow to cities."

The Ohio Department of Taxation changed its policies, declaring that properties in the Wetlands Reserve Program no longer qualify as agricultural land for tax purposes. Property owners with land in conservation easements may see higher tax bills.

A group of young professionals organizations published the results of their urban park survey (PDF). It asked respondents to prioritize park offerings and to identify desired features and activities.

WKSU looked at how the Reimagining Cleveland initiative is helping to create a school garden at Buhrer Elementary School in Tremont.

Backers of the proposed Turkish Cultural Garden in Cleveland's Rockefeller Park shared a preliminary design for the garden.

The Trust for Public Land's annual City Park Facts report says that the number of parks in the nation's 100 largest cities has increased, with the fastest-growing segment being dog parks. Cleveland Lakefront State Park remained the 11th-most visited urban park in the United States.

Longtime Cleveland Metroparks Commissioner David Whitehead announced that he will step down from the board. Judge Russo said he will name a replacement soon.

Update: Judge Russo appointed Debbie Berry to the Metroparks board of commissioners.

Cleveland officials recently unveiled designs for the planned African American Cultural Garden in Rockefeller Park. Supporters hope to raise $2 million for the project and complete construction in 2013. A Plain Dealer editorial says it "wouldn't have happened without the tenacity and vision of the late Booker T. Tall."

The City of Cleveland and Neighborhood Progress Inc. will make $1 million available in the second round of the Reimagining Cleveland initiative. The funding will help residents reuse vacant properties in creative new ways.

Update: Fresh Water shared more details.

In a new report, Emory University's Turner Environmental Law Clinic and Georgia Organics collected the urban agriculture policies of 16 American cities, including Cleveland.

(via Joe Cimperman)

Using Growing Power's aquaponics model, Rid-All Green Partnership is growing produce, raising fish, and creating compost in Kinsman's Forgotten Triangle. The farm in the Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone is one of Growing Power's 15 regional urban farming training centers. Rid-All's mission is to "transform communities by providing them with accessible nutritionally rich food items to improve their over all health."

The City of Cleveland is making improvements in and around the Michael J. Zone Recreation Center at West 65th Street and Lorain Avenue. Work began in June and is scheduled for completion in July 2012. When it is finished, the 22-acre park will provide opportunities for active recreation in an ecologically friendly environment.

Local officials celebrated the opening of downtown Cleveland's rebuilt Perk Park on Monday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $3.7 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants, including a $73,040 award to the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization to restore forests damaged by the invasive emerald ash borer.

The National Park Service completed its purchase of 578 undeveloped acres at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls. The transfer to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park was facilitated by the Trust for Public Land. An event is planned for Monday.

Update: the Trust for Public Land issued a press release.

Update 2: the Akron Beacon Journal supplied more details. An editorial concluded that "the park has been made stronger with this purchase and the collaboration required to move forward."

Developer Mitchell Schneider's First Interstate Properties completed its purchase of the Cleveland Heights portion of the Oakwood Club property. The company has not submitted plans for the 92-acre site, but its preliminary concept "calls for a campus setting with a variety of living options for older adults, along with therapy and wellness facilities, retail, restaurants and civic use."

Next month, ParkWorks and Cleveland Public Art will merge to create LAND Studio. Its "mission will be to create places and connect people through public art, sustainable building and design, collaborative planning, and dynamic programming." The new organization will combine ParkWorks' staff of 12 with the four at Cleveland Public Art and have an annual $1.3 million budget. An introductory video explains the merger.

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

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.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Superintendent Stan Austin spoke at the Akron Roundtable last week. He talked about the park's assets, plans, and areas for improvement.

Participants on Monday's Sound of Ideas program discussed Northeast Ohio invasive plant issues. The guest on Tuesday's program was Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority President William Friedman.

At a meeting on Thursday, local mountain bikers urged the Cleveland Metroparks Commissioners to provide them with greater access in the park district. An environmental impact study is currently underway.

The Euclid Architectural Review Board approved the first phase of the City's waterfront improvement plan. Construction is expected to begin this fall.

The U.S. EPA announced $4.5 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants for 11 projects in Ohio. The awardees include the Cleveland Metroparks and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (PDF). Work is underway on a project at Huntington Beach, one of the projects funded last year.

In July, opponents of the planned Oakwood Commons development submitted a petition for a referendum on the rezoning of the property. On Monday, South Euclid City Council rejected the petition, saying that petitioners failed to file a certified copy of the ordinance with the City prior to its circulation.

Update: City Council rejected the petition because the certified copy was submitted to the clerk of council instead of the finance director.

Update 2: a citizens group is challenging the decision. A Sun News editorial says that residents "should be given the chance to speak their minds at the ballot box."

The City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and MMPI each intend to contribute $200,000 for preliminary engineering and design work for the Mall in downtown Cleveland. It will cover planning for infrastructure to support potential amenities at the Mall.

A study published in the journal Cities examined whether cities can become self-reliant for food, using Cleveland as a model. The Plain Dealer looked at how local students are gaining skills as they work at the six learning farms in the Cleveland Botanical Garden's Green Corps program. The New York Times reported on the re-emergence of natural systems on vacant lots in Cleveland and the research being conducted through the ULTRA-Ex partnership.

Update: ABA Journal explored the rise of urban agriculture in Cleveland and other cities.

Update 2: the Columbus Dispatch and GreenCityBlueLake also wrote about the urban agriculture study.

Update 3: Rust Wire's Angie Schmitt asks if researchers are considering the wrong question.

The Plain Dealer profiled the couple that operates Brunty Farms in Bath Township, one of the 11 farms in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park's Countryside Initiative. The National Park Service is offering two more farms for lease, the Edgar Farm in Valley View and the Holland Farm in Boston Township. Proposals will be accepted until October 3.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial urges state leaders to find replacement revenue sources for the Clean Ohio program.

With funding provided by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, communities in Cuyahoga County are creating rain gardens, bioswales, and other projects to control stormwater and create neighborhood greenspace.

Cleveland Magazine looked at how rowers, environmentalists, and others are working to make the Flats more appealing and active by adding greenspace like the new Rivergate Park.

South Euclid City Council unanimously voted to rezone 40.7 acres of the former Oakwood Club for developer Mitchell Schneider's proposed Oakwood Commons shopping center. Schneider hopes to break ground in September. Opponents want to to place a referendum on the November ballot.

ParkWorks posted the report from Cleveland's new Group Plan Commission. It presents a vision for "a central district woven throughout with dynamic places teeming with energy and people."

Developer Mitchell Schneider told South Euclid City Council that he intends to increase the amount of permeable pavement at his proposed Oakwood Commons retail development and that he would pay the City $12,000 per year for maintenance of the undeveloped portion of the property. He also shared two conceptual designs (PDFs) for the project.

The City of Cleveland's Downtown Design Review Committee and City Planning Commission reviewed and approved the latest designs for the Medical Mart and new convention center. They include concepts for incorporating the current site of the Cuyahoga County Administration Building into future phases. Marc Lefkowitz has concerns about the plans for Malls B and C.

On Monday, developer Mitchell Schneider spoke with South Euclid City Council's Planning and Zoning Committee about his proposed Oakwood Commons retail development.

The Plain Dealer scrutinized Judge Anthony Russo's role in determining whether the Cleveland Metroparks expands its scope to include lakefront parks.

The Plain Dealer provided updates on the experimental wind turbine initiative at Cleveland State University and the status of trail planning for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Guests on Wednesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed greenspace conservation in Northeast Ohio.

A Wednesday public hearing about the proposal to rezone the South Euclid portion of the former Oakwood Club property attracted a large audience. Prior to the meeting, a group of citizens protested outside. The 72 residents who spoke at the meeting expressed a variety of opinions.

The National Park Service will use $5.29 million from the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund to complete the second of two land purchases at Blossom Music Center. The 344 acres of forests and meadows will be added to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, along with the 233 acres purchased in March. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says it is "welcome news for all who support and enjoy the Cuyahoga Valley National Park."

At its meeting on Wednesday (PDF), the board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority voted to open Dike 14 to the public as the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve. The board also approved issuing $2.5 million in bonds for a planned hotel in University Circle and an additional $5 million in bonds for the Flats east bank project. It did not approve an extension of a parking agreement with the Cleveland Browns.

Supporters of the plans to remake the Mall in downtown Cleveland have about two months to raise $500,000 for preliminary engineering and design work.

A Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority committee voted to open Dike 14 to the public. The full board is expected to approve the decision at its meeting on May 18. To start, the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve would be open one or two days per week.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more details.

Update 2: the spring 2011 open house (PDF) will be held on May 21 from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Update 3: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the decision "exemplifies a sea change in attitude."

Members of Cleveland's new Group Plan Commission and students from Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University discussed downtown Cleveland design issues (MP3, 53.8 MB) at the City Club last Thursday.

Re-imagining Greater Cleveland issued a request for proposals for a consultant to develop a plan for the Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone in Kinsman.

Cleveland Metroparks Commissioner Dan T. Moore, appointed in January, is interested in public access to Lake Erie and lakefront parks. The Metroparks are in the midst of a master planning process, which includes an examination of a greater lakefront presence.

The May issue of Cleveland Magazine includes a profile of Cuyahoga Valley National Park Superintendent Stan Austin and a piece by Michael Roberts on the history of downtown Cleveland planning problems.

Funding for the Clean Ohio program will expire in 2012 if the program is not renewed. Joe Koncelik considered the future of the Clean Ohio brownfields fund.

On Thursday, the South Euclid Planning Commission unanimously voted to rezone 40.7 acres of the former Oakwood Club property from residential to retail for the proposed Oakwood Commons development and to change the City's comprehensive plan (PDF). The issue now moves to City Council, which will hold public hearings (PDF) on May 18 and May 25.

More than 100 people attended a Thursday FutureHeights forum prompted by the proposed Oakwood Commons development. At the event, Terry Schwarz, Hunter Morrison, and Ed Jerse spoke about land use, regionalism, urban sprawl, and the importance of master planning.

Update: video of the forum is now available.

The Akron Beacon Journal provides more details about the new Thriving Communities Institute at the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.

This week's edition of Fresh Water includes articles about plans to restore a portion of Doan Brook in Cleveland and about the growth of urban agriculture in Northeast Ohio.

Controversies over natural gas drilling in Ohio could become more prominent this year, as energy companies show more interest in eastern Ohio's shale deposits and state leaders propose drilling in state parks. Ohio environmental groups have called for a moratorium on fracking until the extraction method's risks can be studied more thoroughly.

Update: Thursday's Sound of Ideas program was devoted to the subject.

Cleveland Metroparks leaders anticipate that the system's revenue will rise in 2011 due to its acquisition of Seneca Golf Course and the completion of the zoo's African Elephant Crossing exhibit.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park purchased 233 acres in Cuyahoga Falls near Blossom Music Center from the Musical Arts Association for $3.96 million, a transaction facilitated by the Trust for Public Land. The National Park intends to acquire an additional 345 acres at Blossom for $5.29 million. The Musical Arts Association will retain 198 acres for Blossom operations.

The Western Reserve Land Conservancy will establish Thriving Communities Institute in partnership with former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, who will serve as its director. The 14-county initiative is intended to facilitate the "transformation of aging and declining urban areas through troubled mortgage and land vacancy mitigation, land conservation and land reuse in an intentional and integrated manner."

Update: Jim Rokakis spoke with WCPN's Eric Wellman about the initiative.

More than 150 people attended a meeting of the South Euclid Planning Commission on Thursday to discuss the proposed Oakwood Commons retail development. Most of those who spoke opposed the project. Consultants with McKenna Associates recently completed a review of the rezoning proposal. Earlier in the week, developer First Interstate Properties announced that it is exercising its option to purchase the 90-acre Cleveland Heights portion of the property. The company has not finalized its concept for the land in Cleveland Heights. Blogger Bob Rosenbaum considered the rhetoric surrounding the proposed development.

Update: the Sun News summarized the report from McKenna Associates.

Update 2: the Sun Messenger continues to support the proposal.

An article in the magazine E looks at the Re-Imagining Cleveland initiative and efforts to reclaim open space in other cities.

At GreenCityBlueLake, Marc Lefkowitz describes how two local entrepreneurs plan to create a six-acre farm in Kinsman's Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone.

Within two weeks, the Cleveland Metroparks will begin construction of a multipurpose trail, a visitor center, and other improvements at the West Creek Reservation in Parma. Work is scheduled for completion in fall 2012.

Update: groundbreaking is scheduled for March 7 (PDF).

The Redfields to Greenfields project proposes that public-private partnerships should acquire unproductive urban properties and convert them to greenspace or set them aside for future development. Its Cleveland report (PDF), issued in 2010, says that a $2 billion investment would "remove an estimated 1,850 acres of non-performing real estate from the market" and "create over 120 miles of interconnected greenways."

(via SmartPlanet)

The new Re-imagining Cleveland Ideas to Action Resource Book (PDF) is now available. It's intended to "put ideas and helpful information into the hands of people who can and will change the city for the better" and to "introduce you to some local heroes who are leading the way". On Thursday, the Levin College Forum at Cleveland State will host a Re-Imagining Cleveland forum and gallery opening.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial supports the initiative.

Update 2: Marc Lefkowitz and Gloria Ferris wrote about the event.

The Planning and Urban Design Working Group of the City of Cleveland's new Group Plan Commission presented its recommendations (PDF) on Thursday. Its set of recommendations for the Mall and Public Square suggest ways to improve downtown's connectivity and to shift from an automobile-focused pattern to a more human-oriented scale. The estimated cost of the investments is $87.6-89.6 million.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "Cleveland can't afford to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine its center".

After incorporating input from Broadview Heights residents, the Elsa Drive Wetland Restoration and Protection Project (PDF) now calls for expanding the existing 1.9-acre wetland to 3.15 acres.

Cleveland's Downtown Design Review Committee approved the latest plans for the Medical Mart. The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt said that the designs need more refinement.

Update: committee members want more information about the Mall designs before approving that portion of the plans.

Update 2: the Cleveland City Planning Commission also approved the Medical Mart and convention center plans, but not the plans for the Mall.

With the help of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the Village of Chagrin Falls acquired 9.9 acres of greenspace near Whitesburg Park. The land was formerly owned by the Spillway developers, and will be used for passive recreation.

South Euclid City Council referred the proposed rezoning for the Oakwood Commons development to the City's Planning Commission. Residents at the City Council meeting expressed their objections to the proposed big box retail. Community Services Director Keith Benjamin believes the area can support additional stores, and Ward 4 Councilwoman Jane Goodman supports the project. Oakwood Club leaders are satisfied with the sale to First Interstate Properties.

Update: Thursday's Sound of Ideas program was devoted to a discussion of the issues. Fresh Water asked if the area can support more retail, while a Sun Messenger editorial backed the proposed development.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources finalized its update of the Coastal Erosion Area maps. They include projections for recession rates over the next 30 years. In addition, ODNR's Office of Coastal Management is accepting applications for two lakefront land acquisition programs, the Great Lakes Areas of Concern Land Acquisition Grant program and the Coastal & Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

Judge Russo appointed businessman Dan T. Moore to succeed Fred Rzepka as one of the three Cleveland Metroparks commissioners. Moore joins Bruce Rinker and David Whitehead as members of the board.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "Moore seems like a good fit".

Developer First Interstate Properties of Lyndhurst is purchasing the 154-acre former Oakwood Club site. It paid $1.8 million for 62 acres in South Euclid and has a contract to buy the other 92 acres in Cleveland Heights. The company plans to develop the property as Oakwood Commons, which would consist of 22 acres of apartments around the former clubhouse building, 63 acres of retail with 500,000 square feet of stores, and 69 acres of parkland. The Cleveland Heights portion is zoned for residential use, and would require a rezoning. Neighbors of the property are trying to preserve the entire site as a park, and say that the development would destroy too much greenspace.

Update: many residents are opposed to the development, although not as vehemently as in the 1990s. They shared their concerns at at Cleveland Heights City Council meeting, which drew about 75 people. Blogger Hank Drake considered whether the area has too much retail.

Architects from GGN and LMN presented more ideas for remaking Cleveland's downtown Malls and surrounding areas to the City's new Group Plan Commission on Friday. They reviewed current conditions and made a variety of suggestions for making the area more connected, attractive, lively, and sustainable. The presentations by Mark Hinshaw of LMN (PDF, 30.8 MB) and Shannon Nichol of GGN (PDF, 44.1 MB) are posted at Cleveland.com.

Hospice of Western Reserve is completing the deconstruction of the former St. Joseph Christian Life Center in Cleveland. They hope to finish by the end of the month.

The latest issue of the Trust for Public Land's Land & People magazine features an article about initiatives to increase the amount of public greenspace in the Flats through new parks and greenways, including Canal Basin Park, Rivergate Park, the Towpath Trail, and the Lake Link Trail.

The future of the former Oakwood Club site remains in question. The Trust for Public Land had a 90-day option to purchase the property in Cleveland Heights and South Euclid, but it expired at the end of October. The 150-acre site is again for sale, with an asking price of $5.95 million. Neighbors would like to see it preserved as a public park.

Longtime Cleveland Metroparks Commissioner Fred Rzepka announced that he will step down at the end of the year. The Plain Dealer's Brent Larkin recently profiled Rzepka, and said that he may be the best commissioner in Metroparks history.

Update: Rzepka served on the board for 24 years, longer than any other commissioner.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association will change its name to the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. An official announcement is expected in January.

WKSU's Jeff St. Clair interviewed Stan Austin, the superintendent of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Cleveland leaders are seeking public input on ideas for the downtown Malls at Your Changing Cleveland. The new Cleveland Group Plan Commission will hold a design charette on November 30.

Update: Steven Litt described the process.

The West Creek Conservation Committee wants to purchase a conservation easement for a 37-acre municipally-owned property in Highland Heights. It could become part of an 86-acre greenspace that would also encompass the Dusty Goldenrod Preserve.

Brian Zimmerman, executive director of the Cleveland Metroparks, spoke at the City Club on Wednesday (MP3, 53.1 MB). He talked about what he has learned in his time in Cleveland and the future of the park district.

The new Syrian Cultural Garden, under construction in Cleveland's Rockefeller Park, is scheduled to be dedicated in May. The garden was first proposed in 1929, and will be the first Arab-American garden in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.

Parma Heights City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Big Creek Watershed Balanced Growth Plan, a document completed earlier this year by the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization.

Update: Parma City Council also passed a resolution of support. The plan recommends preserving an 168-acre greenspace in southern Parma.

Update 2: It also makes recommendations for the Brook Park portion of the watershed.

The Northeast Ohio Local Food Assessment and Plan was unveiled on Saturday at the Northeast Ohio Local Food Mini-Congress. It includes an analysis of the current state of the local food system and proposes that within 10 years, local production could supply 25% of Northeast Ohio's food needs. The document then offers more than 50 recommendations for meeting that goal. Michael Shuman, one of the plan's authors, will present its findings at the City Club on Tuesday.

Update: GreenCityBlueLake and Crain's Cleveland Business provided more information about the plan, and the City Club posted audio of Michael Shuman's talk (MP3, 52.2 MB).

The Cleveland Metroparks Commissioners were expected to approve a 99-year lease of Seneca Golf Course and the adjoining Tree Farm site from the City of Cleveland. The agreement calls for the Metroparks to make $4 million in improvements in the next five years to the property in Brecksville and Broadview Heights. Cleveland City Council approved the agreement in June.

The new leaders of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Cleveland Metroparks appeared on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program. CVNP Superintendent Stan Austin and Metroparks Director Brian Zimmerman spoke about the future of the parks.

The first citizen members of Moreland Hills' new Green Commission were sworn in at a September Village Council meeting. The Commission's objective is to "improve the quality of life and protect the fragile ecosystem (PDF) of the Village of Moreland Hills."

Consultants from JJR presented the latest plans for lakefront development in Euclid to City Council's Growth, Planning and Development Committee. The Committee also recommended accepting three grants for lakefront projects.

Local, state, and federal officials unveiled plans to establish an urban agriculture demonstration project in Kinsman. The three-year, $1.1 million Cleveland Urban Agriculture Incubator Pilot Project will start by creating a six-acre farm at East 83rd Street and Gill Avenue. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $740,096 in funding, and the City of Cleveland intends to eventually expand the project to cover 20 acres in the Forgotten Triangle.

Update: the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition supplied more details.

The West Creek Preservation Committee is interested in building a multipurpose trail in Seven Hills and Independence.

The Chagrin Solon Sun urges Moreland Hills residents to approve Issue 88, which would establish an open space conservation zoning classification. It also asks Solon voters to reject Issue 129, a proposal to rezone a property from single-family to two-family residential. The Sun Post-Herald encourages Fairview Park voters to pass Issues 54 and 55, which it describes as "housekeeping items that will correct a zoning oversight".

Early this month, Cleveland City Council approved zoning code changes that include adding agriculture as a principal use on all vacant land zoned for residential use. The revised code (PDF) will become effective on November 3.

While Cleveland Metroparks employees are working to restore natural habitats and reintroduce native species, new Executive Director Brian Zimmerman is helping to guide the park district's strategic planning process. He will speak at the City Club on November 17.

A Plain Dealer editorial encourages Cleveland City Council to approve changes to the City's urban agriculture ordinance, concluding that it has "the potential to turn Cleveland into a national model for how a city can remake itself as a better place to live, work -- and eat."

LMN Architects released the latest design concept for the Medical Mart in downtown Cleveland. The renderings show a concrete and glass building at the corner of Ontario Street and St. Clair Avenue. Members of the Cleveland Design Review Committee and City Planning Commission were generally positive about the designs, and granted them conceptual approval. LMN and landscape architects Gustafston Guthrie Nichol continue to prepare designs for Malls B and C, and want to create a space that can be enjoyed in all seasons.

The third issue of Fresh Water includes articles about designs for Cleveland's public spaces, plans to extend the Towpath Trail through Cleveland, and the transplantation of prairie grasses from Mall B to the Morgana Run Trail in Slavic Village.

Members of a local group report that they have reached an agreement with the Cleveland Catholic Diocese to purchase the former St. George's Lithuanian Church in Cleveland "to create a local-food centric business development district centered around an 18,000 sq.ft. greenhouse." The effort is modeled on Will Allen's Growing Power project in Milwaukee.

Plans for Malls B and C in downtown Cleveland identify a set of guiding principles for open spaces, gardens, promenades, and an urban edge. Mayor Jackson recently extended the new Group Plan Commission's deadline for recommendations, and the Commission will continue to work with architects GGN and LMN.

The National Resources Inventory, conducted by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, shows that every state lost farmland between 1982 and 2007. Ohio had the second-highest amount of prime agricultural land converted to developed land, losing 585,100 acres from 1982 to 2007.

(via Kaid Benfield)

Cleveland City Council passed an ordinance that authorizes the creation of an urban garden at Willard Park near City Hall. City Council also has started to discuss amending the City's urban agriculture ordinance. The changes would permit farm stands, allow farming on vacant residential properties, relax fencing requirements, and allow on-site composting.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, John Vacha looked to the Great Lakes Exposition of 1936-1937 for inspiration about current plans for the Mall in downtown Cleveland.

Structural limitations of the planned Cleveland convention center under Malls B and C may preclude the installation of heavy items above the facility, such as large sculptures or fountains. The new Group Plan Commission is scheduled to submit its suggestions by late December or early January, and will meet next on October 7.

Conceptual plans for the Cleveland Metroparks' Huntington Reservation in Bay Village recommend the construction of a multi-use facility on the bluff, among other changes.

The National Park Service developed six alternatives for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Trail Management Plan. They range from no action (alternative one) to an overhaul of the park's trail network (alternative six). The draft alternatives will be presented at public meetings on September 22, 23, and 26 at the Happy Days Lodge in Peninsula. The public comment period is open through October 30.

The new Armenian Cultural Garden in Rockefeller Park will be dedicated on Sunday as part of the annual One World Day celebration. Work is also beginning on the upcoming Syrian Cultural Garden.

Update: the Plain Dealer posted pictures of the event.

On Monday, the Cleveland Rowing Foundation closed a deal to purchase seven acres on the Columbus Road Peninsula for its planned Rivergate Park. The $3 million acquisition was done in partnership with The Trust for Public Land. The park is expected to open next summer.

The Trust for Public Land published its annual City Park Facts report, a profile of park systems in the nation's 85 largest cities. It states that the City of Cleveland, the Cleveland Metroparks, and Cleveland Lakefront State Park combine to supply 3,130 acres of parks in Cleveland. Like last year, Cleveland Lakefront State Park was the 11th-most visited (PDF) urban park in the country. Cleveland also offers the highest number of swimming pools per capita of any city in the report.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture expanded its emerald ash borer quarantine to cover all 88 Ohio counties. While restrictions on the transportation of firewood are no longer in place, state officials urge Ohioans to continue exercising caution (PDF) when moving hardwoods. A federal quarantine (PDF) of Ohio remains in effect.

The Plain Dealer's Brent Larkin described how the Cleveland Foundation is funding the Northeast Ohio Local Food Assessment and Plan, which is intended to "create a significant economic development strategy for the region based on the production, processing, and distribution of local food."

Among the building projects in the Westlake Schools Master Facilities Plan are new schools, expansions, renovations, and the clearing of five acres of forested land. Neighbors are concerned about the loss of greenspace.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies approved $5.5 million for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to complete the purchase of 635 acres of undeveloped land surrounding Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls.

Moreland Hills Village Council was expected to approve placing modifications of Village's open space conservation zoning classification on the November ballot.

Update: Village Council voted to place the issue on the ballot.

The Plain Dealer published more information about the new Ohio City Farm in Cleveland and how it fits into the larger neighborhood market district plan. Channel 5 spoke with some of the recent immigrants working there.

Participants on Monday's Sound of Ideas program discussed Cleveland's new Group Plan Commission and the process for developing a new vision for the Mall.

As urban agriculture grows in popularity, leaders in Cleveland and other Midwestern cities are considering its role in urban revitalization. An Ohio State University researcher is studying insect populations at community gardens to help inform future land use decisions. Lead contamination can also be an issue in urban soils, but several low-cost techniques can reduce its danger.

As Cleveland's new Group Plan Commission prepares to meet for the first time, Steven Litt looked at the opportunities and challenges facing the panel.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial urges commission members to "think big."

Landscape architect James Corner of Field Operations, who also developed the Public Square redesign concepts, will design the public spaces of the Uptown development in University Circle. At nearby Hazel Road, WXZ Development announced plans to build 60 upscale apartments near the Western Reserve Historical Society and Cleveland Institute of Music.

The City of Cleveland is allowing the use of chemical treatments for the ash trees on West 50th Street as an alternative to removing the mature trees threatened by the invasive emerald ash borer.

Amish farmers and Burmese immigrants working with Refugee Response began plowing at the Ohio City Farm in Cleveland. Located behind CMHA's Riverview Towers, the nearly six-acre farm will be one of the largest contiguous urban farms in the nation.

Update: GreenCityBlueLake has additional information.

The Cleveland Rowing Foundation received two major gifts for its planned Rivergate Park on the Columbus Road Peninsula. The Cleveland Foundation donated $300,000 and philanthropist Peter B. Lewis gave a $250,000 matching grant. The Rowing Foundation must raise an additional $700,000 by July 31 to reach its $3.2 million goal and purchase the property.

Update: the Gund Foundation also donated $200,000 to the project.

On Tuesday, Frank Jackson announced the 15 members of the new Group Plan Commission. They will hold their first public meeting on July 15.

Fortune highlighted the efforts of the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and similar initiatives in other cities to increase levels of urban greenspace.

Strongsville officials are marketing a 169-acre property at the end of Foltz Parkway in the Strongsville Business and Technology Park. Another 300-acre site is adjacent to the city-owned property. The area is the largest greenfield site in Cuyahoga County.

Frank Jackson is forming a new Group Plan Commission that will recommend ways to revitalize the Mall and Public Square greenspaces in downtown Cleveland. It will have 10 to 15 members and will be chaired by City Planning Commission Chairman Anthony Coyne. The panel is expected to deliver its final report by the end of the year. Funding sources for the improvements have yet to be identified.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial supports the process.

Stan Austin (PDF) will be the new superintendent of the Cuyahoga National Park. He is currently the superintendent of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona and will become the National Park's fourth superintendent on August 22. He succeeds John Debo, who retired last July.

Update: Austin spoke with WKSU's Jeff St. Clair.

The Plain Dealer looked at the history of the Cleveland Metroparks' West Creek Reservation in Parma and the projects underway at the park.

Update: the Parma Sun Post published more details about the planned $14 million of improvements.

Channel 3 visited the Vineyards of Chateau Hough, one of the 58 neighborhood projects that received Re-Imagining Cleveland grants.

Update: the station followed up with a report on other Re-Imagining Cleveland greenspaces.

The June issue of Cleveland Magazine includes a profile of ParkWorks Executive Director Ann Zoller, an essay on the breakwall at the East 55th Street Marina, and a map illustrating grant awards in the Ohio and Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor.

More than 150 sites were selected to participate in a two-year pilot program for the Sustainable Sites Initiative. The interdisciplinary initiative is an effort to establish a national rating system for sustainable landscape design. The projects in Ohio are at the Cleveland Botanical Garden in Cleveland, the West Creek Reservation in Parma, and the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more details about the Botanical Garden's participation.

Update 2: the Parma Sun Post described the project at the West Creek Reservation.

On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved the sale of the Cleveland convention center to Cuyahoga County and the conceptual designs for the new convention center. City Council still must vote on the agreement. A Plain Dealer editorial says that "city and county officials need to keep momentum going" on the Medical Mart and other major downtown projects.

As part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park's trail management plan update, park staffers and volunteers are exploring potential locations for new trails.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners tentatively approved a purchase agreement for the Cleveland Convention Center. As part of the Medical Mart project, they agreed to pay the City of Cleveland $20 million for the building below Malls B and C and to pay for severing the facility from Public Auditorium. The City will retain ownership of Public Auditorium. Cleveland Magazine's Erick Trickey analyzed the agreement.

The City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Metroparks continue to discuss a potential 99-year lease of Seneca Golf Course and adjacent land in Broadview Heights.

Issue 46 failed by 25 votes in Strongsville's Ward 4, according to unofficial election results. Developers will wait for an official tally on the rezoning issue before deciding their next steps.

On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved the Canal Basin District Plan. The plan identifies three trail loops that would connect the planned Canal Basin Park to downtown and other neighborhoods.

At the public forum on the redesign of Malls B and C, architect Mark Reddington of LMN Architects and landscape architect Shannon Nichol of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol shared their research and visions for the Mall. More than 100 people attended the event at the Cleveland Public Library.

Update: Doug Bardwell also summarized the forum.

The Ohio EPA awarded grants for restoration of stretches of the Chagrin River and Little Cuyahoga River (PDFs). The Geauga Park District received $400,000 and the Lake Metroparks received $349,584 for projects along the Chagrin River, and the City of Akron received $400,000 for work along the Little Cuyahoga River.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal published more information about the project in Summit County and WKSU has more details about the Geauga County work. The Ohio EPA also awarded a $394,000 grant (PDF) to the West Creek Preservation Committee.

On Tuesday, Jeff Heinen, Mary K. Holmes, and Doug Katz participated in a discussion about local food systems at the City Club (MP3, 53.0 MB).

A free public forum on the future of Cleveland's historic Mall will be held on May 6 at the Louis Stokes Wing of the CPL's Main Library.

Issue 46 in Strongsville is a proposal to rezone portions of a 1.4-acre site at the southeastern corner of Royalton and Prospect roads from residential to retail. Heritage Development Company wants to build a 25,000-square-foot drug store and a 25,000-square-foot strip mall on the wooded property.

Stormwater runoff from developments surrounding the Cleveland Metroparks creates extensive erosion problems within the reservations.

The City of Shaker Heights will plant an orchard on a vacant lot at the corner of Avalon and Kenyon roads. It is one of five properties where the City is using federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program dollars to make greenspace improvements where houses used to stand.

An unidentified suitor submitted an offer to purchase the 160-acre Acacia County Club property in Lyndhurst. The club's shareholders will discuss the proposal.

Update: there are three parties interested in buying the club.

Cleveland City Council's City Planning Committee approved an agreement for the planned Croatian Cultural Garden in Rockefeller Park. A spring groundbreaking is possible.

The Cleveland Rowing Foundation, with assistance from the Trust for Public Land, is nearing an agreement to purchase the former Commodore's Club Marina on the Columbus Road Peninsula for its proposed Rivergate Park. The group has raised $1.9 million of the $3.2 million needed to buy the seven-acre property, and the deadline has been extended to July 31. Mayor Jackson wants the City of Cleveland to offer a $300,000 low-interest loan for the acquisition.

Work on the first phase of the Perk Park renovations began last year, and should be completed this fall. The Plain Dealer published details about the redesign and the plans for a second phase.

Because Summit County leaders have filed legal challenges to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's new stormwater management program, the Sewer District may withdraw its sponsorship of conservation projects in northern Summit County.

Update: the Hudson Hub Times has more details.

Update 2: the Sewer District will not pull its support for the projects.

In a companion piece to its story on vacant land in Cleveland, Next American City looked at the City's "chicken and bees" law. The City is considering expanding the rules to include more varieties of livestock. In Communities & Banking, the magazine of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Matt Martin and Zachariah Starnik of the Stockyard Redevelopment Organization described residents' efforts to reclaim their neighborhood through urban gardening (PDF).

The Cleveland Metroparks purchased a 62-acre property along the east branch of the Rocky River in North Royalton. The site, which contains quality wetlands and a primary headwater stream, will be added to the Mill Stream Run Reservation.

The spring 2010 issue of Next American City includes an article by Marc Lefkowitz about vacant land reuse policies and practices in Cleveland. He explored the reasons behind the problems and the variety of innovative initiatives currently underway. Terry Schwarz also spoke about urban regeneration at the recent TEDxCLE event.

A Public Square redesign proposal from Neil Mohney of Forest City calls for closing the portions of Ontario Street and Superior Avenue in the square. He hopes to expand the dialogue to include ideas beyond the three concepts prepared by Field Operations.

Cleveland City Councilman Michael Polensek introduced legislation that calls for transferring control of lakefront parks in Cleveland to the Cleveland Metroparks. The parks are currently operated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Cuyahoga County, and the port authority. Cleveland Lakefront State Park is owned by the City but leased to the state until 2028. Probate Judge Anthony Russo has also advocated for more involvement by the Metroparks.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial supports the proposal.

The City of Cleveland may give the 470-acre Seneca Golf Course and 125 acres of neighboring greenspace to the Cleveland Metroparks. An agreement on the site in Brecksville and Broadview Heights would have to be approved by Cleveland City Council and the Metroparks Board of Park Commissioners.

Trail users provided input at public open houses last week for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park's trail management plan.

The cities of South Euclid and University Heights are collaborating on the Nine Mile Creek Green Street Project, an effort to improve water quality and reduce runoff by installing stormwater bioretention cells.

About 90 people attended the community meeting about the future of the Oakwood Club in Cleveland Heights. Nine attendees formed a steering committee that will look at ways to preserve the property as greenspace.

Update: the Sun News has more details about the meeting.

The Cultural Landscape Foundation says that the "thread" concept for Cleveland's Public Square is both picturesque and modern, and that it demonstrates "a shared value design ethic".

(via ClevelandDesignCity)

The Solon Planning Commission approved Transcon Builders' plans to develop Hawthorne Valley Country Club as the Hawthorne Estates subdivision.

The 144-acre Oakwood Club property in Cleveland Heights is up for sale, with an asking price of approximately $6 million. The area is zoned for single-family housing, and a Sun News editorial says that the site should remain as greenspace. A community meeting about the property will take place on February 3.

More than 100 people attended a Levin College Forum on Thursday to learn more about the Public Square redesign concepts. Jeremy Borger summarized the event and shared his thoughts.

Participants on yesterday's Sound of Ideas program discussed investments in public spaces, focusing on the concepts for redesigning Cleveland's Public Square. The page also includes an interview with architect Peter van Dijk about the restoration of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Public Square.

Henry Ross, founder of Gardenview Horticultural Park in Strongsville, established an endowment designed to secure the 16-acre park's future.

Plans for the Medical Mart in Cleveland have shifted back to the original site, away from the proposal to build at Mall C. The latest plans call for building the medical products showcase at the northeast corner of St. Clair Avenue and Ontario Street, on the site of the privately-owned Justice Center Parking Garage, Sportsman deli, and 113 St. Clair office building, as well as the county-owned Chicago Title Building and Administration Building Annex. The County will not purchase Public Auditorium from the City, but a portion of the $20 million from the convention center purchase will be used for upgrades of Public Auditorium. Steven Litt said that the Mall is at risk of becoming an afterthought, and that it should be "rebuilt according to the highest possible standards."

In addition, the County reached a construction administration agreement with developer MMPI. The agreement provides new protections for taxpayers and sets rules for construction contracting. An October groundbreaking is possible. Cleveland Magazine's Erick Trickey summarized the recent events. In New York City, developers of the competing World Product Centre accelerated their timetable by announcing plans to withdraw from a proposed 60-story skyscraper and lease up to 350,000 square feet of existing space.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial calls it "a good way to start the year."

Members of Oakwood Club and Mayfield Sand Ridge Club voted to combine the two country clubs. The 144-acre Oakwood Club property in Cleveland Heights will be put up for sale. The nearby Acacia Country Club property in Lyndhurst may also be available.

Mandy Metcalf believes that the best solutions for redesigning Cleveland's Public Square involve the closing of Ontario Street and Superior Avenue in the square.

Judge Anthony Russo shared his vision for the Cleveland Metroparks in a Plain Dealer op-ed: "As the advent of regionalism looms on the horizon, the time has come to develop and implement a master plan whereby the Cleveland Metroparks undertakes stewardship of all available public property on the lakefront, creating a new Cleveland Lakefront Metroparks."

Cuyahoga County officials reopened talks with the owners of buildings on the west side of Mall B, and may sign an option to purchase the properties. It would allow MMPI to drop its controversial proposal to build the Medical Mart at Mall C.

Last week, a team led by James Corner of Field Operations presented three concepts for a redesign of Cleveland's Public Square to a steering committee from ParkWorks and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance. Each of the scenarios offers a framework for unifying Public Square's four quadrants: one would frame the square with a trellis, a second would forest the square and close Ontario Street, and the third would thread the square with a man-made hill connecting the quadrants. The thread concept has received the most positive responses.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial enthusiastically supports further pursuit of the ideas.

Residents on West 50th Street are challenging the City of Cleveland's Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan. They hope to retain the neighborhood's mature trees through regular emamectin benzoate treatments.

The Cleveland Rowing Foundation has an opportunity to purchase the former Commodore's Club Marina property on the Columbus Road Peninsula for a new boathouse and Rivergate Park. The organization has a March 31 deadline to raise $3.2 million for the seven-acre site.

The Plain Dealer's Christopher Evans described three of the 58 projects that received grants through the Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland program.

The Dike 14 Nature Preserve Committee, League of Women Voters of the Cleveland Area, and the Northeast Ohio Sierra Group formed the Cleveland Lakefront Alliance to oppose the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's planned relocation to a site north of East 55th Street.

Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman helped to organize four public meetings about the Medical Mart for early 2010. Roldo Bartimole interpreted them as a political maneuver. Mayor Jackson spoke about the Medical Mart on Channel 3's Between the Lines and defended Public Auditorium on Channel 5. Commissioner Jones thinks that Cleveland should reduce its asking price for the property MMPI desires for its revised Medical Mart plans. The Cleveland chapter of the American Institute of Architects opposes the new plans, and Steven Litt considered the aesthetic costs of building on Mall C.

Meanwhile, the developers of the proposed Nashville Medical Trade Center announced the site for the 2 million-square-foot complex, increasing pressure on MMPI to demonstrate progress in Cleveland. Developers of both projects have stressed the importance of being the first to open.

Through the West Creek Confluence Project, the West Creek Preservation Committee is reclaiming eight acres of urban wetlands where West Creek meets the Cuyahoga River in Independence (PDF).

In Sunday's Plain Dealer, Harvey Webster advocated for establishing the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve at Dike 14 in Cleveland.

Steven Litt has questions about MMPI's revised concept for the Medical Mart in Cleveland, and participants on yesterday's Sound of Ideas program raised more questions. Cleveland City Council members demanded answers from MMPI representatives at a meeting yesterday. MMPI officials gave their reasons for rejecting Public Auditorium and presented alternate configurations they considered before concluding that Mall C would be the best site. Scene remained unimpressed, as was Roldo Bartimole.

While 20 companies are interested in leasing space at the Medical Mart, none of them have signed agreements. If negotiations bog down, Cuyahoga County leaders could suspend monthly payments to MMPI.

The Countryside Initiative is offering one farm for lease in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Edgar Farm in Valley View. The Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy will accept proposals through January 15.

MMPI's announcement that they now intend to build the Medical Mart at the northern edge of Mall C surprised Cleveland leaders, and they are concerned about the proposed changes. Steven Litt considered the architectural and urban design implications of the new site and how Public Auditorium would fit in. Commissioner Hagan defended MMPI, while Mayor Jackson still wants the company to renovate Public Auditorium.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial said that the recent events underscore the need for better communication. MedCity News compared the project's timetable with those of competing developments in Nashville and New York City.

The Cleveland Metroparks are using geographic information systems technologies to help manage their 22,000-acre network of parks.

Citing higher than anticipated costs, MMPI dropped its plans to renovate Public Auditorium and to use it and neighboring properties as the site of the planned Medical Mart. MMPI officials say they are considering multiple alternatives, but are focusing on building it on Mall C, also known as Strawbridge Plaza.

Update: the changes could also delay the project.

The City of Cleveland awarded $449,405 in Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland grants to 58 neighborhood projects (PDF). The awards were classified as greening, urban agriculture, and phytoremediation projects.

On Friday, President Obama quietly signed the appropriations bill that included $475 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and $4 million for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Update: officials with the Trust for Public Land believe it will take several years to complete the Blossom land purchase.

Congress appropriated $4 million toward the purchase of 635 undeveloped acres surrounding Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls. The property, the largest remaining private parcel within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, would be incorporated into the park.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial applauds the announcement.

The planned construction of the Medical Mart and new convention center will provide "a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pump new life into the Mall," says Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer. However, he cautions that "the question, as always, is whether the city will rise to the occasion or settle for mediocrity as it often has in the past when it comes to public spaces."

John Carroll University's desire to create more green space for athletic fields by demolishing six houses remains a contentious issue in University Heights. City Council's University Affairs Committee is exploring alternatives.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park's first step in updating its trails plan is an informal survey of area stakeholders. Backpackers, equestrians, and mountain bikers would all like to see more trails.

Today's Plain Dealer presents additional details about the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's unwillingness to support a grant proposal for a trail at Dike 14 in Cleveland.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "port officials need to be far more forthcoming" about their decision. Port Authority President Adam Wasserman said that there are ownership questions about the site that must be resolved.

More than 100 people gathered on Saturday to celebrate the rededication of the Irish Cultural Garden in Rockefeller Park.

Cleveland Metroparks officials hope to eventually extend the Lake to Lake Trail to Beyer's Pond at the Big Creek Reservation in Middleburg Heights.

State and local governments committed $54 million in new public loans and grants for the stalled Flats east bank project, which may enable developers (PDF) to resume construction of a downsized first phase next spring. Formerly a $500 million project, the $270 million development now includes a 450,000-square-foot office tower, a 150-room hotel, a 3-acre riverfront beach, and 14 acres of greenspace.

Update: two Plain Dealer reporters discussed the announcement, and an editorial said it "seems like a win-win".

The City of Cleveland will soon begin the renovation of Perk Plaza at Chester Avenue and East 12th Street in downtown Cleveland.

Work on the renovated plaza at the Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building is nearly complete. The $15 million downtown project includes 27,000 new plants and trees and public art by Pae White.

A panel will award funding to 40–50 of the 103 projects submitted for Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland grants. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the "lots in Cleveland are about to get amazing makeovers."

David Jones of the News Herald summarized the history of the Lake Erie property lines case and considered how it may proceed.

In addition to upholding the lower court decision, the recent appeals court ruling in the Lake Erie shoreline case also said that the Ohio attorney general had no standing in the case. The Ohio Environmental Council called the decision a "gross misinterpretation of the [Ohio] Revised Code".

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association and the National Park Service are launching the new Trails Forever initiative, an effort to repair and expand the park's trail network. One of their goals is to raise a $10 million endowment by 2016, the interest from which would be used to enhance the trails. Meanwhile, the environmental cleanup of the former Krejci Dump in the park was extended through the end of November 2011. Contamination at the site is more extensive than anticipated.

A 98-acre farm in Eaton Township is returning to nature as the new Margaret Peak Nature Preserve.

Cleveland Metroparks Executive Director Vern Hartenburg announced his retirement on Wednesday. He has held the position since 1988, and will stay on until a replacement is selected in the spring. A Plain Dealer editorial said that "he will be sorely missed".

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority withdrew its support from a proposal to build a trail at Dike 14 in Cleveland, because it wants more time to consider how Dike 14 relates to the planned port relocation. On September 26, the Dike 14 Education Collaborative will hold Migration Mania (PDF), an open house with self-guided walking tours (PDF).

If they receive a Clean Ohio conservation fund grant, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy will purchase and preserve 10 acres along the Chagrin River from the developers of the Spillway project. It would eventually be used the expand the Village of Chagrin Falls' Whitesburg Park.

Update: the Chagrin Valley Times offers more details.

The Ohio EPA is considering a proposal to address erosion issues at Lakewood Park by rehabilitating a retaining wall and expanding the breakwater.

2009 City Park Facts, a new report from the Trust for Public Land, compares the park systems of 77 American cities. The City of Cleveland has 7.1 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents, and parks make up 6.3% of the City's total area. Cleveland Lakefront State Park was the 11th-most visited urban park in the United States. The National Park Service also announced that national park visitation rose in the first half of 2009.

The City of Parma and the West Creek Preservation Committee will acquire and preserve a 2.78-acre wooded lot at Brookdale Avenue and West 16th Street. $63,000 of the $95,000 purchase price was provided by the Clean Ohio Fund.

Update: a Parma Sun Post editorial concluded that the "partners certainly are demonstrating their commitment to preserving natural green space, something that future generations of residents will appreciate for many years to come."

Over 500 acres of the Geauga Lake property are still for sale, although Cedar Fair officials say that the company has not recently received offers for the land. A Bainbridge Township trustee wants to develop a plan for the area.

As the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority continues planning for its relocation to a site north of East 55th Street and for the redevelopment of its current downtown facilities, the Plain Dealer's Joe Frolik considered ways to enliven nearby Voinovich Park.

Moreland Hills leaders officially opened the new Forest Ridge Preserve on Sunday. The 124-acre preserve is the Village's first park.

Update: EcoWatch Ohio has more details.

A group of history teachers recently toured the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, and CSU's Center for Public and Digital Humanities documented the visit with stories, audio, and photographs. The local Albanian community intends to place a larger-than-life statue of Mother Teresa in the new Albanian Cultural Garden.

Plain Dealer columnist Margaret Bernstein shared more details about the Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland grant program. Neighborhood Progress, Inc. scheduled an additional workshop for applicants, to be held at Trinity Commons on July 20. The application deadline remains July 31.

Late last month, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved $5.7 million in federal funding for projects in Ohio, including $4 million for the purchase of more than 600 undeveloped acres at Blossom Music Center for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The City of Middleburg Heights will convert a vacant gas station at the corner of Smith and Pearl roads to a new public park. A completion date has not been identified.

ParkWorks issued an RFQ (PDF) for a "design team to address the scale, accessibility, connectivity and feel of Public Square." It's intended to "translate the ongoing dialogue about opportunities to reconfigure or reprogram Public Square into a schematic design and budget estimate that can transform the Square into a healthy anchor for downtown."

The Plain Dealer looked at the farms operated through the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy and profiled the three newest farms in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. An additional farm will be available for lease later this year.

Neighborhood Progress, Inc. will hold six public workshops about the Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland initiative in June and July. The City of Cleveland set aside $500,000 of its Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds for the Re-Imagining Cleveland Grant Program, and applications are due by July 31 (PDF). Meanwhile, the Downtown Cleveland Special Improvement District, established in 2006, is up for renewal next year. The Downtown Cleveland Alliance is holding a series of forums and conducting a survey to gather feedback.

Advanced Hydro Solutions' Metro Hydroelectric subsidiary dropped its plans to reestablish hydroelectric power generation at a Cuyahoga River dam in Summit County's Gorge Metro Park. The company surrendered its preliminary permit (PDF) from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday.

Update: WKSU has more information.

Later this year, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park will begin work on a new trails plan. The current trails plan was prepared in 1985. Meanwhile, National Park Superintendent John Debo announced his retirement today (PDF), effective July 3. In August, he will become the chief development officer of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association. Debo has served as superintendent for 21 years.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal and WKSU have more information about Debo's departure. The Beacon Journal also published a very positive editorial.

Cleveland City Council passed several ordinances prior to adjourning for the summer, including the allocation of $2.5 million from the Cleveland Convention Center sale for additional improvements to downtown's Perk Plaza.

In a 4-3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court overturned two lower courts, ruling that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has exclusive jurisdiction in the state on tree removal matters in utility easements and that the lower courts lacked the jurisdiction to decide the case. A Brooklyn couple had contested FirstEnergy's right to cut down a tree on their property.

Fairview Park City Council is considering a proposal to double the size of Nelson Russ Park by purchasing 2.3 acres from three property owners for $64,000. The purchase may be approved at the next City Council meeting on June 15.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited the Cuyahoga Valley National Park yesterday and then spoke at the City Club of Cleveland. He said that the park annually generates $38 million for the local economy and helps create 1,000 jobs.

Update: the City Club posted audio of Secretary Salazar's remarks (MP3, 60.6 MB).

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy announced the completion of the Lake Erie Coastal and Riparian Forest Preserve, a 19.5-acre bird sanctuary in Bratenahl.

On Monday, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners and Mayor Jackson of Cleveland signed a letter of intent for the transfer of Public Auditorium and the existing convention center. The County agreed to purchase the downtown facilities from the City for $20 million, $2.5 million more than the Commissioners offered last week. They suggested that the additional dollars should be used to improve downtown's Perk Park. The agreement must be formally approved by the County Commissioners and Cleveland City Council. WTAM posted audio of the press conference, and Erick Trickey of Cleveland Magazine provided some analysis plus an interview of Commissioner Hagan.

Update: the County Commissioners unanimously approved the agreement.

Planning Commissioners Journal Editor Wayne Senville recently made three stops in Northeast Ohio as part of his trip across the country. He visited and wrote about how the public library in Hudson has become a community hub, the flexibility and diversity of Shaker Heights, and the strategies identified in the Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland initiative. Map of the Week also reposted several images from the Re-Imagining Cleveland guidelines.

Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman spoke with WTAM's Ted Klopp about the upcoming renovation of Perk Plaza in downtown Cleveland.

The Ohio EPA yesterday announced plans to invest $1.1 billion in federal stimulus funds and low-interest state loans in water and sewer infrastructure projects. Approximately $46 million will go to projects in Northeast Ohio, including $5 million for two NEORSD sewer projects. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of the Interior unveiled plans for $750 million in stimulus funds, of which the Cuyahoga Valley National Park will receive about $7.8 million. The award will fund five projects in the Park. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the dollars (PDF) will help address the Park's maintenance backlog. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Transportation announced that it will reallocate $115 million of the $200 million in stimulus funds it recently assigned to the Innerbelt Bridge project in Cleveland to 52 other projects across the state. ODOT officials say that the funding will be replaced with other state and federal dollars.

Cleveland City Council is preparing to proceed with a scaled-back renovation of downtown's Perk Plaza. Councilman Cimperman said that "the goal is to break ground in May or June or as soon as we can."

Update: City Council's Finance Committee approved the work.

On March 31, the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision (PDF) and upheld the results of a March 2008 ballot issue in Solon, where voters had rejected a rezoning for a proposed senior housing development on a site near near Hawthorne Valley Country Club. Supporters of developer TransCon Builders asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision.

On Monday, Brooklyn City Council voted to accept the Big Creek Trail and Neighborhood Connector Plan, and reassured apprehensive residents that a trail would not run through their back yards.

Members of Acacia Country Club regained control of the property when a judge dismissed a court-appointed receiver who had been pursuing a sale of the property. Last summer, members began to explore the sale of the 160-acre country club in Lyndhurst.

The Akron Beacon Journal examined how the presence of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park has affected Boston Township in Summit County. The Township Trustees harbor some lingering resentment over its creation.

The Geauga Park District agreed to purchase the Pine Brook property, a 718-acre wetland in Montville Township. The District will pay $1.75 million over the next four years, and will be reimbursed by selling wetland mitigation credits at the newly-established wetland mitigation bank.

A conceptual plan (PDF) by the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority calls for relocating the East 55th Street Marina to nearby Gordon Park. The existing marina would be displaced by the planned relocation of the port. The proposal has been met with mixed reactions.

Update: the Cleveland City Planning Commission was mostly positive about the proposal. The Port Authority will hold public meetings to gather additional input.

Backers of the Canal Basin Park District Plan say that the greenspace and trail network would be a transformational green project. The City of Cleveland is seeking federal stimulus funds for its implementation. A complementary proposal, Flats Connections Plan, calls for converting old infrastructure into more trails and greenways in the Flats. GreenCityBlueLake has a virtual tour of the plans.

The City of Westlake reached an agreement to purchase a 30-acre site on Center Ridge Road for $1.65 million. A 240-unit apartment complex had been planned for the site, but the developer's option to purchase the property recently expired. The City has not announced its plans for the land.

The City of Solon hired EnviroScience Inc. of Stow to design and oversee the restoration of the southern branch of Sulfur Springs. The stream runs through a 14-acre preserve that was acquired by the City and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy in September.

The final public meeting about plans for the Canal Basin Park District in Cleveland will be held on March 11. The open house will be held at the Bridgeview Apartments from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.

The recent shootings at Perk Plaza in downtown Cleveland illustrate how urban design can contribute to the creation of unsafe environments. First proposed in I.M. Pei's 1960 Erieview urban renewal plan, the park was completed in 1972. A 2003 plan for redesigning the plaza was not implemented due to a lack of funding. The City of Cleveland plans to proceed with a more modest renovation this year.

Christopher Evans of the Plain Dealer praises an effort to establish an orchard on a vacant property in Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood, calling it an example of "grass-roots revolutionary thinking".

Now that the Lower Big Creek Valley Greenway Redevelopment & Restoration Plan has been adopted by the City of Cleveland, backers have begun seeking funding for the implementation of the $11 million plan.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2007 Census of Agriculture, the number of farms in the nation increased by 4% between 2002 and 2007, but the number of farms in Ohio fell by 2.5% over the same period. While Ohio now has fewer family farms, more of them are operated by women.

The Cleveland City Planning Commission today unanimously approved the Lower Big Creek Valley Greenway Redevelopment & Restoration Plan (PDF, 79.1 MB). It calls for investments of nearly $11 million in a trail network and environmental restoration projects. The new trails will connect Brookside Reservation and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo with the Towpath Trail.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more details.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture anticipates that Brecksville will see a rise in the gypsy moth population this year. The agency will spray 99 acres (PDF) through its program to suppress the invasive species.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park will rehabilitate four structures in Boston Township for use by the Park's volunteer support organizations. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association has raised over ⅔ of the funds (PDF) for the $855,000 project.

Yesterday, Cleveland City Council passed legislation covering urban farming and the allocation of the City's Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds. The farming law, which passed by a vote of 18-3, will allow more residents to raise chickens, ducks, rabbits, and bees on their properties. City Council adopted Mayor Jackson's proposal for allocating the $25.5 million dollars from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program by a vote of 20-1.

Update: Cleveland City Council issued a press release about the allocation of Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds.

Steven Litt considers the available information about the plans to build the new convention center and Medical Mart at Mall B. He identifies the advantages of the site as well as some concerns about the proposal.

At a committee work session in University Heights, John Carroll University officials shared a map that shows the University's envisioned footprint in five years. Neighbors of the University say that it's a step in the right direction. The University's expansion plans have been a source of friction with nearby residents, which can be seen in the disagreements over a recent request by the University to demolish six houses for a new athletic field and campus greenspace.

Stelex Equities dropped its plans to build Woodland Preserve, a proposed mixed-use development at Harvard and Brainard roads in Orange.

The Cleveland Metroparks agreed to buy a 10-acre wooded site adjacent to the North Chagrin Reservation for $405,000. The purchase is contingent upon receiving a grant from the Clean Ohio Program.

The Flats Connections Plan, a new proposal from ParkWorks, Cleveland Public Art, and Building Cleveland by Design, shows how a greenway could link the Towpath Trail to the west bank of the Flats and Whiskey Island.

In the last two years, Ohio officials have issued no fines for transporting firewood out of areas where a quarantine intended to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer is in place. Regulators say that they're focusing on education.

Grants of up to $3 million are available to communities seeking to acquire land for preservation or recreation within Ohio's Lake Erie watershed. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will refer up to three projects to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for consideration. The application deadline is February 17.

Update: WKSU shares more details.

The Dike 14 Preservation Committee opposes the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's plans to relocate their facilities to a new site north of East 55th Street. The group says that the move threatens the East 55th Street Marina, Gordon Park, and Dike 14.

Runoff from increased exurban development around the Cuyahoga Valley National Park continues to cause erosion problems along the Cuyahoga River. Park officials are developing natural systems approaches to controlling erosion.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Cleveland's new vacant land redevelopment guidelines could be a national model for urban sustainability.

On Friday, the Cleveland City Planning Commission adopted guidelines for "Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland" (PDF, 9.1 MB). The guidelines were developed over the past year by the City of Cleveland, Neighborhood Progress Inc., and Kent State's Urban Design Collaborative, with funding from the Surdna Foundation. They summarized "the goals, principles and strategies for returning vacant properties to productive use at the city-wide scale" and identified "policy changes that will enable the city to better make use of this growing resource."

Mayor Brewer of East Cleveland proposed building a 12,000-seat amphitheater in his city's portion of historic Forest Hill Park. The idea would require approval from the Forest Hill Park Advisory Commission, and at least one of its three members is opposed to the concept. Others question the need for additional concert venues.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded a $27,000 grant to the City of Parma from the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund. It will be used for the acquisition of a 2.85-acre riparian site near West Creek.

This week's Scene includes a look at the increasing popularity of urban farming in Cleveland. Early next month, City Council may vote on legislation relaxing the rules for raising chickens and bees. At the state level, the Ohio Food Policy Council is promoting the advancement of local food systems.

Steven Litt was impressed by the plans for the redesign of the bus and rapid transit station at the base of Cedar Hill in University Circle. Under the plans, the transfer station on the south side of Cedar Glen would be replaced with a new public park.

While work continues on the second phase of improvements to Lakewood Park, City officials are considering future investments.

As a tribute to the late Ed Hauser, WVIZ will re-air the 2006 documentary Citizen Hauser twice this week, on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and on Wednesday at 11:00 p.m.

The Ohio 11th District Appeals Court heard oral arguments in the Lake Erie property lines case on Tuesday. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources earlier attempted to have one of the three judges disqualified because of a potential conflict of interest, but was rebuffed by the Ohio Supreme Court. A decision is not expected for several months.

The Jacobs Group is under contract to purchase 30 acres of the 540-acre Geauga Lake site from Cedar Fair. The property is in Bainbridge Township, and the company intends develop it as big box retail.

Update: the Aurora Advocate has more information.

The Ohio Supreme Court dismissed a request from TransCon builders to rezone a site near Hawthorne Valley Country Club in Solon. However, the Court has not begun deliberations on a related lawsuit challenging the validity of the ward veto provision in the City's referendum zoning rules.

The conversion of the Langerdale Retention Basin in South Euclid has been completed. The concrete channelized drainageway along Nine Mile Creek was replaced with a man-made wetland. The 10 acre, $1.2 million restoration will reduce flooding and provide new habitats.

The Plain Dealer recounts the Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association's dispute with the Cleveland Metroparks over building trails in the park system. Meanwhile, the National Park Service is preparing a rule that will transfer decision making-power about bicycle trails to local park administrators. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park will use funds from the Krejci dump settlement to study the possibility of building trails.

The Plain Dealer summarized the impacts of the Clean Ohio program in Greater Cleveland. The bond program is up for renewal as Issue 2, and Lakewood City Council passed a resolution in support of program.

Update: Issue 2 has bipartisan support from top office-holders in Columbus.

The new Serbian Cultural Garden in Cleveland's Rockefeller Park was dedicated on Sunday. It is located on Martin Luther King Boulevard, across from the new Azerbaijan Cultural Garden.

The Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association reports that it has been unsuccessful in its efforts to get the Cleveland Metroparks to allow the expansion of a bike trail network.

(via Cool Cleveland)

A Plain Dealer editorial urges voters to approve Issue 2, the renewal of the Clean Ohio program, calling it a "a sound investment that benefits both urban and rural Ohioans."

Carol Schultz, owner of the last farm in Solon, has resisted offers to sell her land to developers.

An Akron Beacon Journal backs the renewal of the Clean Ohio program, saying that it "has been a catalyst for change in the state's economy."

The City of Solon and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy will purchase, restore, and preserve a 14 acre property southwest of the intersection of SOM Center Road and Hawthorn Parkway. It includes the headwaters of the south branch of Sulfur Springs, a Chagrin River tributary. The City helped to preserve another 14 acre site in June.

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati reversed a lower court decision that had granted Advanced Hydro Solutions access to the Gorge Metro Park in Summit County. The Court of Appeals returned the case to U.S. District Court in Akron with instructions to dismiss it (PDF) for lack of jurisdiction.

Achievement Centers for Children completed the purchase of a 4.3 acre site on Royalton Road adjacent to Camp Cheerful in Strongsville. A hotel had been proposed for the site, but the new owners will keep it undeveloped.

Cedar Fair may postpone the sale of large portions of the former Geauga Lake site because the company feels that the offers for the land are too low. The delay could provide more time for the roller coaster enthusiasts seeking to preserve the Big Dipper.

Walk+Roll Cleveland's signature event will be held on Sunday in Cleveland's Rockefeller Park, and provides an opportunity to reflect on the renewed interest in the park's Cultural Gardens. Steven Litt is encouraged by the recent activity, but feels that the park and gardens "need to be re-envisioned". ParkWorks and University Circle Incorporated are engaged in a strategic planning process to improve the park.

Members of Acacia Country Club in Lyndhurst are considering whether to dissolve the club and sell its 160 acre site for development. Brokers speculate that the property at Cedar and Richmond Roads could be sold off in parts for residential, retail, and office construction.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will hold three public meetings in September about proposed changes to the policies regulating development along the Lake Erie coastline. The Cuyahoga County meeting will be held on September 18 at the Don Umerley Civic Center in Rocky River.

The National Park Service is working to reduce automobile traffic in its parks. In the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad's Bike Aboard service has tripled in popularity this summer. It offers cyclists the opportunity to bike the Towpath Trail in one direction and ride the train in the other for a $2 fare.

In an editorial, the Morning Journal supports the renewal of the Clean Ohio program, saying that "it's one issue that should not get lost in the crowd" this November.

A public meeting about the Canal Basin District Plan will be held this evening at KA's design studio on West 9th Street in Cleveland. Planners are looking for ways to connect the Towpath Trail and planned Canal Basin Park to nearby neighborhoods and Lake Erie.

A charter amendment that would forbid development or resource extraction in Highland Heights parks will likely appear on the November ballot. Meanwhile, a natural gas drilling company is suing the City. The company claims that it has authorization to drill in Highland Heights Community Park.

Update: Highland Heights City Council placed the charter amendment on the ballot.

Participants in a May planning charrette generated ideas for revitalizing vacant land in Cleveland.

Cedar Fair is in negotiations with three companies for the sale of the former Geauga Lake site. They reached an agreement with an unidentified buyer for Geauga Lake Hotel and the 11 acres that surround it. Another company is interested in building retail on 100 acres on the west end of the property, and a third wants to build housing on 440 acres between the other two areas. Meanwhile, roller coaster enthusiasts are pessimistic about the future of the historic Big Dipper.

Portage County residents will vote on a 0.5-mill levy for Portage Park District operations. Voters have turned down levy requests four times in the past 12 years. The group Citizens for Portage Parks supports the levy request.

Close to 200 people attended the concrete-breaking ceremony for the West Creek Confluence Project on Friday. The restoration of the ten acre site in Independence will be completed in three to five years.

The group Love Our Green Space presented a petition for a charter amendment that would "ban residential, commercial and industrial development" and "prohibit commercial activities such drilling, mining and logging" in Highland Heights parks.

The Cleveland Metroparks will purchase a 14.3 acre site south of the North Branch Preserve for $700,000. Solon City Council approved a conservation easement for the property and contributed $45,000 toward its purchase.

The Trust for Public Land reached an agreement with the Musical Arts Association that could lead to the transfer of 620 undeveloped acres around Blossom Music Center to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Musical Arts Association will retain the 140 acres occupied by Blossom facilities. The agreement is contingent upon appropriations from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal has more information.

Cleveland Magazine took a quick look at the redesign of the plaza surrounding the Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building at East 9th Street and Lakeside Avenue in downtown Cleveland. It will include a decorative screen by Los Angeles artist Pae White.

The Valley View Planning Commission approved plans for the Preserves at Hathaway Farm subdivision. An earlier proposal called for 23 homes on on 13.2 are site, but the approved design has 20 homes. The property is adjacent to the Kukoleck farmstead in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and Superintendent John Debo hopes the development's impacts can be minimized.

Channel 3 aired stories about the increasing popularity of community gardening in Cleveland (video) and about the Farmland Center's FarmLink (video) program.

Brad Masi of the New Agrarian Center describes how community gardening can be used to combat food deserts, using a new community garden at Huron Hospital in East Cleveland as an example.

15 people applied to operate the three available farms in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The landmark Big Dipper roller coaster was tentatively sold to an undisclosed buyer at the Geauga Lake auction today. The purchaser intends to move it to an as-yet unannounced location and reassemble it "not as a ride, but as a nostalgia piece."

The economic stimulus package signed yesterday by Governor Strickland includes a renewal of the Clean Ohio program. If Ohio voters approve the $400 million bond issue in November, funding for the program will be doubled. Half of the funds would be used for brownfield remediation, and the other half would support greenspace conservation, trail construction, and farmland preservation.

Ohio has changed its approach to the emerald ash borer over the last five years, shifting from efforts designed to block its spread to education, outreach, and management. The invasive insect has been discovered in 35 of Ohio's 88 counties.

In addition to the other projects mentioned earlier, the Ohio capital budget bill includes $500,000 for lakefront development in Euclid.

Update: the bill also includes $150,000 for the renovation of League Park, $100,000 for the redesign of the Euclid Beach Pier, and $15,000 for the completion of a walking trail in Parma Heights.

Four local developers submitted bids for the purchase of the former Geauga Lake site in Geauga and Portage Counties. The companies are interested in developing the 500 acre property as a mixed-use development.

Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of urban gardening in Cleveland and the innovative programs offered through the Ohio State University Extension. Community gardening is also gaining popularity in Lakewood, and this week's Cool Cleveland looked at some techniques for turning waste streams into sustainable local agriculture.

Advanced Hydro Solutions still wants to build a hydroelectric plant at the Cuyahoga River dam in the Gorge Metro Park. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission terminated the application for the project last June, but the company is now seeking a renewal of the permit.

The Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association is trying to convince the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Metroparks systems in Cuyahoga and Summit counties to build a 100 mile network of unpaved trails.

The planned retail development on the site of the former Boston Hills Country Club continues to be a source of controversy, and a Boston Heights resident is now suing the Village for overriding last year's referendum issue.

The Treadway Creek Greenway Restoration & Trail in Old Brooklyn was offically dedicated at a ceremony at Harmody Park this morning.

The Akron/Summit County Convention & Visitors Bureau will fund the Plant Your Meeting initiative, which will plant trees in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The plantings will begin this fall and next spring.

The Azerbaijan Cultural Garden in Cleveland's Rockefeller Park was dedicated yesterday. It features "Hearth", an eight ton stainless steel sculpture by Azerbaijani sculptor Khanlar Gasimov.

The Western Reserve Land Conservancy reached a deal to purchase an eight acre forest along the Lake Erie coast in Bratenahl. The group has secured about $1 million from in grants and donations, and the mature forest will be preserved as a bird habitat if they can raise an additional $718,000.

The Village of Boston Heights settled a lawsuit with the developers seeking to build on the former Boston Heights Country Club site. The settlement (PDF) allows the developers to construct retail and office space on 100 acres of the 160 acre property.

A group of Solon residents that supports the rejected senior housing development is suing the City of Solon and the group Solon Taxpayers Against Rezoning. They are charging that a referendum zoning provision in the City's charter is unconstitutional. The plaintiffs include relatives of TransCon Builders President Fred Rzepka. Some speculate that the case could help the Coral Co. gain approval for its proposed Central Parc development.

The Chagrin River Watershed Partners, Geauga County Planning Commission, and the Geauga Soil and Water Conservation District are evaluating the soil, stormwater runoff, and wetlands at the former Geauga Lake site in Bainbridge and Aurora.

The Cleveland Clinic will partner with the North Union Farmers Market, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, and the OSU Extension to establish a new farmers market and two new farms on Clinic-owned land in Cleveland.

The Trust for Public Land purchased the future site of Canal Basin Park and transferred the land to the City of Cleveland. The 1.43 acre property at Merwin and West Streets in the Flats is currently a parking lot.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park, in conjunction with Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy, is currently accepting proposals (PDF) for long-term leases of three farms in the Park: the 16 acre Martin Farm in Bath Township, the 10 acre Leyser Farm in Brecksville, and the 25 acre Gleeson Farm in Valley View.

Update: WKSU has more details.

Environmentalists are concerned that new federal wetlands mitigation rules could weaken the Ohio EPA's standards. State officials have been unsatisfied with the quality of wetland mitigation banks and encourage developers to create replacement wetlands on or near development sites. The new federal rules, which are preferred by developers, name mitigation banks as the best option.

Editorials in the Akron Beacon Journal, Plain Dealer, and Record Courier encourage the U.S. Congress to allocate funds for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to purchase threatened privately-held properties within its borders. Beacon Journal columnist Steve Hoffman says that the park's regular visitors must pressure members of the local congressional delegation.

In this week's Cool Cleveland, Kelly Ferjutz profiles Ed Hauser and imagines how Cleveland's lakefront might appear in 2020.

The Village of Boston Heights reached a tentative settlement (PDF) with the developer seeking to build big box retail and possibly a hospital on the site of the former Boston Hills Country Club. Village leaders approved a similar development last spring, but it was rejected by voters in a November referendum issue. The developer responded by suing the Village. Residents are now considering litigation of their own.

The Brandywine Golf Course in Peninsula is no longer for sale, because its owner pulled if off the market. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park may purchase a conservation easement for the property.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more details.

The Musical Arts Association is interested in selling 600 acres at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, but the Park cannot afford to purchase the land. Park officials are also concerned about the possible sale and development of the privately-owned Brandywine Golf Course in Peninsula. America's Heritage For Sale, a new report from the National Parks Conservation Association, says that the Park needs $8 million to purchase the properties.

Update: the Plain Dealer published a map and additional details. WKSU also reported on the issue.

The Lakewood Observer reports that Lakewood officials signed a memorandum of understanding last year to sell Kauffman Park to developers, but that the new mayoral administration considers the agreement to be "off the table".

Budget shortfalls have delayed the planned renovation of League Park by one year. Ken Silliman, Mayor Jackson's chief of staff, said that "It's every bit of a project as it was last summer. It's just set back a little in time."

Work on the West Creek Confluence Project in Independence is scheduled to begin this summer, and the restoration of the site should be completed by 2010. The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is also involved in several related projects in Parma and Brooklyn Heights.

A group of Highland Heights residents formed Love Our Green Space and are working to protect City-owned parkland. They are collecting signatures for a referendum issue that would prohibit resource extraction or development in parks.

This week's Free Times looks at the rise of the local food movement in Greater Cleveland, using the City Fresh program and the new LEAF initiative in Lakewood as examples.

Parks across Northeast Ohio reported attendance increases last year, a statistic that runs counter to national trends of decreasing interest in outdoor activities.

The City of Strongsville purchased an undeveloped 25 acre site on Lunn Road. The land is zoned for industrial development, and while the City plans to use it for recreation purposes, officials hope that it will eventually be developed.

TransCon Builders is considering legal action against the City of Solon after losing a rezoning issue last week. The company hoped to build senior cluster homes on 62 acres of a site between Hawthorne Valley Country Club and the Cleveland Metroparks South Chagrin Reservation.

The Gund Foundation's latest round of awards includes a $40,000 grant to the City Fresh program, a $90,000 grant to the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy for its farmland preservation efforts, and a $100,000 grant to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to evaluate the economic impact of the pilot Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit.

Metro Parks, Serving Summit County will spend $150,000 on efforts to reduce the impacts of increased stormwater runoff on Furnace Run and its Rock Creek tributary.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture will hang traps for the emerald ash borer in areas where the invasive insect has not yet been detected, including Geauga County, Lake County, and the southern part of Summit County.

The City of Richmond Heights will purchase from Cuyahoga County 13 acres along the East Branch of Euclid Creek as part of the City's environmental protection strategy that also included the naming of tributaries of Euclid Creek.

North Royalton City Council dropped discussion of the proposed North Royalton Greenways Plan because the plan's main advocates are no longer City Council members. Mayor Stefanik called it "feel good" legislation that wasn't realistic or legal.

The Cleveland Catholic Diocese has the former St. Joseph Christian Life Center on Lake Shore Boulevard listed for sale at $2.75 million. The Cleveland Landmarks Commission has proposed designating the 1927 building and its 11½ acre lakefront site as a historic landmark.

Achievement Centers for Children, which operates Camp Cheerful in Strongsville, agreed to purchase a five acre property adjacent to the camp, effectively canceling a proposal to built a hotel on the site. The organization does not intend to develop or sell the land.

While Cedar Fair markets the 500 acre Geauga Lake site, a group of roller coaster enthusiasts is continuing its efforts to preserve a portion of the closed amusement park and the Big Dipper roller coaster.

The amount of forested land in Ohio has roughly doubled over the last 50 years. Governor Strickland wants Ohio's state forests to be accredited as sustainable sources of timber. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources points out that owners of woodlands in six Northeast Ohio counties can apply for participation in the Forest Legacy Program, a federal conservation easement program.

Ohio Attorney General Dann, the Ohio Environmental Council, and the National Wildlife Federation are all appealing Lake County Common Pleas Judge Lucci's decision in the Lake Erie property lines case. They say that the "ruling goes against more than 100 years of Ohio legal precedent".

Update: the Blade and WCPN have more details.

The Western Reserve Land Conservancy preserved a record-high 4,110 acres in 2007, and has preserved a total of 13,262 acres in 14 Northeast Ohio counties.

The City of Cleveland is seeking interdisciplinary consultants to develop the Canal Basin District Plan, which will be a conceptual study intended to "help to establish a roadmap for future public and private investment decisions that will turn the Cuyahoga River Valley into a major attraction for residents and visitors, alike."

The Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District is giving free trees to residents along streams in the Rocky River watershed. The Rocky River Backyard Buffers Program, which was funded by an Ohio Lake Erie Commission grant, is intended to restore riparian buffers on private property.

Solon City Council did not select one of the two competing mixed-use development proposals, which means a rezoning issue will not appear on the March ballot. Gross Builders reportedly may withdraw from a partnership with Stark Enterprises. However, City Council did approve a rezoning issue for the proposed senior housing development near Hawthorne Valley Country Club.

Editorials in the Blade and the Plain Dealer are critical of Judge Eugene Lucci's decision in the Lake Erie property lines case. The Plain Dealer says that it was "a faulty ruling" that "essentially transfers the public trust in managing Lake Erie's shore", while the Blade says the decision "gives unwarranted life to the elitist claim of lakefront property owners that they can prohibit what an age-old line of legal reasoning has established - the right to walk along Great Lakes shores in front of private homes."

(via Great Lakes Blogger)

Update: an editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal agrees with the other papers, saying that the ruling lacked the "necessary legal precedent."

A Lake County Common Pleas judge ruled yesterday (PDF) that lakefront property along Lake Erie extends to the water's edge, a partial victory for a lakefront landowners group. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources had argued that property rights ended at the lake's historic high water mark, while the landowners argued that their rights extended to the historic low water mark, now about a foot underwater.

Beavers have recently made a home at Whiskey Island near downtown Cleveland, a sign that environmental restoration efforts are showing progress.

Work will begin next summer in restoring a 10 acre site at the confluence of West Creek and the Cuyahoga River in Independence. The City of Independence and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are also planning Hemlock Trail, a 1.5 to 1.7 mile long multi-purpose trail through Independence and Valley View that would connect the Towpath Trail to Brecksville Road.

South Euclid officials intend to focus on greenspace issues next year. They plan to adopt a greenspace plan, update the City's master plan, hire a consultant, and investigate the best uses for several undeveloped City-owned properties.

The Cuyahoga County Soil and Water Conservation District will hold public meetings today and tomorrow to discuss the results of recently completed environmental assessments of Dike 14 in Cleveland.

At a public meeting late last month, residents provided input and ideas in the planning process for the Lower Big Creek Valley Greenway Redevelopment & Restoration Plan.

The West Creek Preservation Committee recently purchased five acres of forested land off of Parkhaven Drive in Parma. The area will be leased to the Cleveland Metroparks and used to expand the West Creek Reservation.

Ohio State University's Center for Farmland Policy Innovation developed a new model to help identify areas with the highest need for farmland protection programming. The model examined all Ohio counties, including urbanized areas traditionally overlooked by agricultural preservationists. It identified 15 counties, including Cuyahoga County, as having relatively high needs for action.

The Saint Luke's Foundation awarded a $1 million grant to ParkWorks to create walking trails, an outdoor reading garden, public-art displays, and performance areas in Cleveland's Buckeye neighborhood. The former hospital building will be at the heart of a five-acre learning campus.

TransCon Builders would like the City of Solon to create a new senior housing zoning classification for its proposed development adjacent to Hawthorne Valley Country Club.

Because Boston Heights voters rejected the retail development proposal for the site of the former Boston Hills County Club, the developer's $10 million lawsuit against the Village will continue. He says that the issue left the property without an economically viable use.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the region shares responsibility for protecting the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and that park officials have made a compelling case for cooperation.

Supporters of Camp Cheerful in Strongsville are opposed to a proposed rezoning to permit construction of a hotel on an adjacent site. They say that it would destroy the natural buffer around the camp.

Plans for Hathaway Park in Garfield Heights will affect up to 0.21 acres of wetlands and 3,285 feet of stream. The Ohio EPA will hold a public meeting about the potential impacts on November 15 at the Garfield Heights Civic Center.

John Debo, Superintendent of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, says that the biggest problems the park faces are "flooding, flooding, and flooding." Increased runoff from recent exurban development in communities surrounding the Park has worsened the problem. In response, the Park has begun working with the communities to improve their stormwater management techniques.

Lakewood Planning and Development Director Tom Jordan reassured residents that the future of Kauffman Park will be determined by a public process with due diligence.

While the pace of farmland loss has slowed in recent years, Ohio has lost almost 77,000 acres of farmland in the last seven years, mostly to residential development. Participants at the recent Farmland Preservation Summit see opportunities in the local food movement and in biofuel production.

The Friends of Euclid Creek purchased a conservation easement to protect 12.5 acres of a 37 acre property owned by the Mayfield City School District. The pocket prairie in Highland Heights is home to 408 types of plants, including rare and endangered species. The purchase was funded by a Natural Resources Assistance Council grant.

In Boston Heights, two retail zoning issues will appear on next Tuesday's ballot as the result of referendums. Issue 51 is a vote on the retail rezoning of the former Boston Hills Country Club, and Issue 52 is about adding big box stores as a conditional use in retail business districts.

The Urban Landscape Ecology Program at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center is hosting an Ecological Landscaping Conference this week at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Cleveland.

The Plain Dealer notes that if Lakewood officials opt to sell Kauffman Park for commercial development, it would be an unusual decision.

Mayor Luks of North Royalton would like the City to purchase a 30 acre undeveloped site on State Road for use as athletic fields. Some City Council members would prefer to instead work with the school district.

Some North Royalton residents expressed an interest in forming a nonprofit organization similar to the West Creek Preservation Committee to implement the priorities identified in the City's Greenways Plan.

Developers donated a seven acre parcel to Orange Village. In exchange, they were allowed to add 14 units to their planned Lakes of Orange housing development.

The Cleveland Metroparks received the 2007 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence from the National Recreation and Park Association. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the award "confirms what many already know: the Cleveland Metroparks system is a treasure."

Solon officials are scrutinizing the reintroduced plans for senior housing on a site adjacent to Hawthorne Valley Country Club. If they approve the proposal, the proposed rezoning will go before voters.

After two years of work, excavation of the Krejci Dump in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is nearing completion. The environmental cleanup should be completed by fall 2008 if additional contamination is not discovered.

Scene asked if the possible development of Kauffman Park in Lakewood will reduce the City's amount of greenspace, and Mayor George replied that there will be no net loss of park areas.

(Update: The Plain Dealer has more details.)

The North Royalton Greenways Plan remains stuck in a City Council committee because its sponsors fear that City Council would not approve it.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections unanimously upheld a protest by the Westlake school board and removed an advisory zoning issue from the November ballot. City officials have not decided if they will appeal the decision.

The City of Solon and the Cleveland Metroparks are working to add 14 acres to the 72 acre North Branch Preserve. The preserve is adjacent to the Metroparks' South Chagrin Reservation.

TransCon Builders reintroduced its proposal to build a senior housing subdivision next to Hawthorne Valley Country Club in Solon. The development was rejected by voters in May. They expanded the proposal to cover as many as 184 new homes on 61.6 acres, but also pledged that the country club would be preserved as a golf course or a park.

The Cleveland Cultural Garden Committee approved the creation of an Albanian garden in the Cultural Gardens at Cleveland's Rockefeller Park. The area's Albanian-American community has begun raising funds for its design.

Geauga County's Amish residents object to a proposed road widening in Middlefield Township because they want to preserve the area's rural character. A Plain Dealer editorial says, "It's not going to be a simple task for Geauga County to balance its efforts to promote industry and its obligation to protect the rights of Amish people to live as they wish."

Developers of the proposed Woodland Preserve development in Orange were informed that they "don't have a chance" of putting a rezoning issue on the March ballot. Stelex Equities is expected to present their plans to Village Council on October 3.

With funding in place, work on the first phase of the Big Creek Watershed Management Plan is beginning. It's expected to continue through spring 2008.

Some Orange leaders are not pleased with how information about the proposed Woodland Preserve development was released, and that Mayor Mulcahy met with the developer for months prior to last month's presentation.

The Westlake Board of Education filed a formal protest of the advisory rezoning issue that City Council wants to put on the November ballot. The Board claims that the submission violated the city charter and that the advisory issue would be "inaccurate and grossly misleading to the electorate." The Board of Elections is scheduled to review the objection at its September 17 meeting.

Plans for the Woodland Preserve, the proposed development on the Weintraub property in Orange, include 663 housing units, public space, a medical building, and a small retail center. The area is currently zoned for single-family residential development, and developers hope to get a rezoning issue on the March ballot.

Developers are interested in purchasing Lakewood's Kaufmann Park for use in the redevelopment of a neighboring shopping center. They want to build a new shopping center that would be set back further from Detroit Road. The City hired consultants to prepare a study of the park, and it should be finished in September.

The recently formed South Euclid Land Conservancy has held two meetings, and members are discussing ways to preserve greenspace in the City.

Cleveland's Azerbaijani and Serbian communities plan to soon break ground on their Cultural Gardens in Rockefeller Park, and they may be joined by Armenian, Native American, and Albanian gardens.

Brooklyn Heights' leaders plan to use the Cuyahoga Valley, the Village's central location, and the Towpath Trail (including the West Creek Greenway) as the linchpins of the Village's redevelopment plans.

Ohio Department of Transportation officials say that Cleveland's delay in making a decision about the future of the controversial ramps at the west end of the West Shoreway is raising the cost of redesign. Cleveland officials contend that ODOT has provided confusing and conflicting information about construction costs and traffic estimates.

Mayfield Village purchased the Stabile property on SOM Center Road for $750,000. The four acre property includes a waterfall and ravine.

City Fresh and other local urban gardeners have adopted asphalt gardening techniques. In addition to providing greenspace and affordable local food, asphalt gardening can reduce the urban heat island effect and can help reduce storm runoff.

An Ohio EPA survey of 25 man-made replacement wetlands, mostly in Northeast Ohio, gave a majority a grade of poor-to-fair. The agency's review of wetlands mitigation rules will be completed in November.

Bentleyville Village Council narrowly approved a 75 foot riparian setback ordinance. Some councilmembers preferred a 120 foot setback.

A South Euclid councilwoman and resident formed the South Euclid Land Conservancy, which met for the first time last month. The organization's second meeting will be held on August 22 at 7:00 p.m. in South Euclid City Hall.

As the Cleveland Metroparks celebrate their 90th anniversary, the Plain Dealer looked back at the history of the park district. The Metroparks posted eight "Parkways to the Past" historic audio tours at their new weblog.

Our website now includes a new section on Whiskey Island. It features information about the goals and plans for the lakefront peninsula, as well as photographs, directions, and contact information.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency awarded grants to the Western Reserve Land Conservancy for the acquisition of conservation easements for 132 acres of riparian buffers along the East Branch of the Rocky River in Summit and Medina Counties, and to Grand River Partners for the restoration and protection of 300 acres of riparian buffers and wetlands in the lower Grand River watershed in Lake County.

The developer of a proposed shopping center on the site of the former Boston Hills Country Club filed a complaint in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. The complaint asks for $10 million from the Village of Boston Heights if residents are successful in an effort to get the retail rezoning on the ballot via referendum.

The Cultural Gardens Federation is working with the National Park Service to have the 50 acre Cleveland Cultural Gardens designated as a national monument. The designation would require Congressional approval.

In multipurpose trail news:

The Plain Dealer explored the measures being taken by the City of Cleveland and some suburbs to confront the anticipated loss of their ash trees to the invasive emerald ash borer. Cleveland officials plan to remove over 400 trees this year, and 1,409 trees by 2009.

On Friday, Governor Strickland reversed state policy and announced that he will have the Ohio Department of Natural Resources institute a new policy which specifies that property lines extend to Lake Erie's low water mark, instead of the previously recognized high water mark. Property owners will still need to seek ODNR approval before building breakwalls, docks, or other structures. Attorney General Dann says that the new policy does not align with current Ohio laws, and will continue to defend the state against a lawsuit brought by a group of lakefront property owners.

(Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that "The governor's 'compromise' would be less dismaying if he had included in his announcement a reaffirmation of the right of public access to the shoreline.")

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission refused to reconsider its termination of a permit for the proposed hydroelectric project in Gorge Metro Park.

The Village of Brooklyn Heights will hire Nerone & Sons of Warrensville Heights to build the Eagle Glen Connector Bridge and Hiking Trail for $174,700. Construction of the bridge is scheduled to begin in October.

Between 80 and 125 acres of the Pond Brook wetlands will be restored at Liberty Park in Twinsburg Township.

(Update: The Akron Beacon Journal presents additional information and photographs.)

Advanced Hydro Solutions asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider its application for the proposed hydroelectric project in Gorge Metro Park. The federal agency terminated the application last month.

This morning's edition of The Sound of Ideas on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of the Towpath Trail and its planned completion through Cleveland. The guests were Ohio Canal Corridor Director Tim Donovan, Cuyahoga Valley National Park Superintendent John Debo, and CPC Executive Director Paul Alsenas.

A Wall Street Journal exploration of the recent growth of urban parks in the United States includes a mention of the increase of parkland in Cleveland.

After being used for search and rescue training, the former Memphis School in Old Brooklyn is being demolished. The City of Cleveland will maintain the 2.4 acre site as greenspace while officials consider plans for its redevelopment.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District committed $3 million for the construction of the planned Watershed Stewardship Center at the Cleveland Metroparks West Creek Reservation in Parma. Meanwhile, the City of Independence purchased the former Seaman's Furniture Warehouse at the confluence of West Creek and the Cuyahoga River. The structures on the 10 acre property will be demolished and the site will be used for parkland, open space, riparian restoration, and flood control.

A forum titled "Partnering to Preserve Farmland in Hiram Township with Transfer of Development Rights" will be held tomorrow at the Hiram College Kennedy Center Ballroom from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Rich Cochran of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy said that Northeast Ohio needs to preserve an additional 200,000 acres of parks and greenspace, and called urban sprawl the biggest threat to the region and its quality of life.

Governor Strickland says he will direct the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to develop a new coastal management policy. The revised policy will be friendlier to lakefront landowners who want property lines shifted from the high water mark to the low water mark.

The Village of Brooklyn Heights is soliciting bids for the construction of the Eagle Glen Connector Bridge and Hiking Trail over West Creek. It will connect the Village Park to Seven Hills and eventually with the Towpath Trail.

As part of wetlands remediation for the Carrington Court senior housing development in Solon, Gross Builders and the City reached an agreement that calls for the company to pay $100,000 for an environmental easement on 20.9 acres in the City's blue heron rookery. The agreement requires the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission terminated Advanced Hydrosolutions' application for a hydroelectric project in the Gorge Metro Park because the company was unable to gain access to the park. Company President David Sinclair says they are reviewing the decision and are still pursuing the project.

Westlake voters may be asked "for advisory purposes only" if the 42 acre undeveloped property on Bradley Road should be rezoned for recreational use only. The site is currently zoned residential, and the vote would advisory because the city's referendum zoning would not apply in this case. The president of the Westlake School Board says that it's an attempt to pressure them to sell the land to the City.

The City of Cleveland is planning renovations to historic League Park in Hough that include restoring the ballfield, building a replica of the outfield wall, and renovating the ticket house, a tunnel, and the original brick wall. The project is expected to cost $8.5 million, of which the City will supply $5 million. Officials hope to raise the rest of the money through private donations.

Several former residents donated two undeveloped properties near Green Road to the City of South Euclid. City Council plans to place the properties in a land back.

The City of Cleveland and the Wendy Park Foundation are close to an agreement that would authorize repairs of the pier to the historic Whiskey Island Coast Guard station. The deteriorating station remains in need of repair.

Bentleyville leaders are considering a riparian setback ordinance, but some residents are unhappy that it calls for a 75 foot setback, and not the 120 foot setback in the Chagrin River Watershed Partners model ordinance.

Since negotiations were unsuccessful, Westlake City Council voted to again offer $1.9 million to the the Westlake Board of Education for the purchase of 42 undeveloped acres on Bradley Road.

This morning's edition of the The Sound of Ideas on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of rivers in Northeast Ohio, canoeing, and related subjects. The guests were author John Manuel, Cuyahoga Valley National Park biologist Lisa Petit, and activist Ed Hauser.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources was awarded $1.014 million by NOAA for the purchase of two properties in Bratenahl totaling 19.5 acres. The Lake Erie Coastal and Riparian Forest Preserve, a partnership between the Village of Bratenahl and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, will include mature forest, a riparian corridor, and the 100-year floodplain of Dugway Creek. Acquisition of the land will cost $2.2 million.

(Update: the Plain Dealer has more details.)

Blue Pike Farm is a new one-acre farm on East 72nd Street between I-90 and St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland. Carl Skalak named the farm after the extinct Great Lakes fish, and grows organic vegetables and herbs. Crops will be sold at the farm and at other Cleveland locations.

Ohio EPA officials remain unsatisfied with the quality of man-made replacement wetlands, and are drafting new guidelines. A draft of the new regulations may be ready later this year.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded approximately $2.3 million in NatureWorks Grants for park and recreational improvements. The recipients included a number of projects in Northeast Ohio.

Yesterday, Boston Heights residents delivered referendum petitions to the Village regarding the rezoning of the former Boston Hills Country Club. If the signatures are certified, the issue may appear on the November ballot.

Bob Downing of the Akron Beacon Journal toured the wetlands at Pond Brook South. Public access to the 227 acre area recently acquired by Metro Parks, Serving Summit County will likely be limited.

Although Ohio's farmland preservation program has saved 26,752 acres acres since 1999, the state continues to lose farms to residential development. Lack of funding has prevented the program from preserving more land. Since 2002, the farmland preservation office has received applications for 217,982 acres of farmland, of which 20,385 acres were preserved.

Feedback from residents was positive at the first in a series of meetings convened by the West Creek Preservation Committee. The final meeting will be held at the Parmatown Conference Center in Parmatown Mall on May 7 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

The owners of 25 acres of woods in North Royalton want to establish a farm on the property. The site on Abbey Road between Sprague and Albion Roads is zoned for residential construction, and the owners hope to build housing on the property after farming it for three years.

As part of an effort to raise public awareness about the emerald ash borer, the City of Strongsville will mark about 50 ash trees with ribbons during Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week, May 20-26.

The Akron Beacon Journal profiles the accomplishments, tools, and plans of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. Between 2000 and 2005 the amount of land in Ohio preserved by land trusts grew from 20,265 acres to 50,700 acres.

A federal appeals court rejected Advanced Hydrosolutions' suit to gain access to Gorge Metro Park, overturning a lower court and indicating that the case belongs in state court. The company is seeking access to the park to conduct environmental tests for a proposed Gorge Park Dam hydroelectric project, which is opposed by the Metro Parks, Serving Summit County.

Some North Royalton City Council members worry that the North Royalton Greenways Plan might lower property values in the City.

Frances Whitehead and Lisa Norton have proposed the idea of the "superorg" as a model for integrating the artist's perspective, ecological design, and industrual regeneration in the public planning of the Towpath Trail Extension. Their work is being shown at SPACES gallery as part of the Shrinking Cities exhibition.

In a Plain Dealer editorial, Christopher Knopf of the Trust for Public Land explains the organization's vision for Cleveland, which includes improving public access to Lake Erie. He states that Northeast Ohio's natural spaces are a vital part of the region's quality of life, which in turn is a major factor in business location decisions.

The West Creek Preservation Committee will host a series of public meetings about the planned West Creek Greenway, which would link the West Creek Reservation to the Towpath Trail. The first meeting will be held on April 25 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Brooklyn Heights Community Center.

Political science students at Baldwin-Wallace College polled 417 Cuyahoga County residents about the future of Burke Lakefront Airport. The results show that a consensus on the best use of the site has not emerged, but a majority want increased public access to Lake Erie, regardless of whether the airport remains.

A Plain Dealer editorial backs the Cleveland City Planning Commission's decision on the plans for the western end of the West Shoreway redesign. "The planning commission - which is supposed to consider what is right for the entire city, not a sliver of it - was right to endorse the original vision."

Boston Heights Village Council approved a controversial rezoning of the former Boston Hills County Club, rezoning almost 66 acres from residential to retail. Developers want to build a shopping center on the rezoned portion of the site and 100 houses on the remaining area. Residents opposed to the development plan to fight the rezoning.

Supporters of the two options for redesigning the western end of the West Shoreway in Cleveland continue to disagree about the plans. Councilman Jay Westbrook described the situation as a standoff, and ODOT does not intend to reconvene its Lakefront West Subcommittee until City officials obtain consensus.

Bay Village City Council and the Cahoon Park Trustees will decide whether to repair or demolish the decaying concrete trusses in the park. Estimates place the cost of repairing the historic interurban trusses at $84,000, while removing them would cost $52,000.

Earlier this year, Ohio Representative Larry Wolpert introduced House Bill 69, which would permit counties and townships to establish transfer of development rights programs. The Ohio Home Builders Association is opposed to the legislation.

The Cleveland Metroparks acquired 33 acres of forest in Mayfield Village for $2.1 million. The property will be added to the North Chagrin Reservation and includes the headwaters of Foster's Run and Beecher's Brook, tributaries of the Chagrin River. The purchase was aided by $1.4 million from the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program.

The Paper Mill Vision Committee in Chagrin Falls supports the adaptive reuse of the former Ivex Paper Mill on Cleveland Street, and submitted four recommendations to Mayor Brick. They also suggested lowering the dam to reduce liability and remove it from ODNR's jurisdiction. The Trust for Public Land is also interested in preserving greenspace at the site.

Of the two alternatives for the western end of the West Shoreway redesign, the Cleveland City Planning Commission endorsed the plan that was not the preferred option of neighborhood stakeholders. The alternative adopted by the Planning Commission includes fewer ramps and provides more greenspace for enlarging Edgewater Park.

The Portage Park District has begun developing a countywide parks, trails, and greenways plan. The $65,000 plan will take about a year to complete. Seven public meetings will be held to collect public input.

The Centerville Mills Committee in Bainbridge Township recommended that the 161 acre property should become a passive park. Township Trustees are not expected to immediately act on the suggestion.

Over 285 people attended last night's listening session at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to offer suggestions on ways the Park could invest funds from the proposed NPS Centennial Initiative. Citizens can also provide feedback via the web until April 2.

CSU's The Cauldron examined local reactions to the Earth Day Network's 2007 Urban Environment Report, which ranked Cleveland 70th in its list of 72 cities. Cleveland Sustainability Progam Manager Andrew Watterson feels that the methodology was flawed, and that the City is working to address many of the issues raised in the report.

Cleveland City Council established an Urban Garden District zoning classification. The permitted main uses in the district are community gardens, "land managed and maintained … to grow and harvest food crops and/or non-food, ornamental crops for personal or group use, consumption or donation," and market gardens, "land managed and maintained … to grow and harvest food crops and/or non-food, ornamental crops, such as flowers, to be sold for profit."

Last Tuesday, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights school board rejected all bids for the 10.9 acre Millikin site near Severance Town Center. The site was appraised at $2.5 million, but the highest cash offer was $500,000. The district plans to try to get fair market value for the land and return it to productive use. However, a growing number of neighbors are urging the board to preserve what they call "the city's last wilderness area."

U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett will attend a Northeast Ohio listening session as part of the National Park Service's Centennial Initiative. The Park Service wants public input in "shaping the future of America's national parks." The session will be held on March 26 from 5:00 to 8:00 at the Happy Days Visitor Center in Peninsula.

CSU's Levin College Forum will host "Our Place in the Urban Age: The Downtown Comeback: Myths and Realities" on April 11, featuring Alan Ehrenhalt, the Executive Editor of Governing. On April 13, the Forum will host "Transfer of Development Rights: A Demonstration Study". Keynote speaker Rick Pruetz will present the findings of a study that examined the economic feasibility of TDRs.

Historic concrete trusses in Bay Village's Cahoon Park are crumbling and unsafe, and need to be repaired or demolished, says Mayor Sutherland. The trusses formerly supported an abandoned interurban railway line.

Leaders of the City of Westlake and the Westlake City Schools continue to negotiate on the price for 42 acres of undeveloped land on Bradley Road, but have been unable to reach an agreement. City officials plan to hold a public meeting about the land next month.

The Army Corps of Engineers has proposed reopening Dike 12 near Burke Lakefront Airport as a confined disposal facility for Cuyahoga River dredge material. They mistakenly included Dike 14 in their application, upsetting supporters of a nature preserve there, but the Corps reassured them that Dike 14 is "off the table." A public meeting will be held on Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Carnegie West Branch of the Cleveland Public Library.

At a recent meeting, Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan said that the Whiskey Island "marina is not going to be buried in. The mayor has already signed off on it. We're all done with that. The issue is over with." Activist Ed Hauser remains cautious. "I won't truly believe it until it's in writing and the Cleveland Metroparks takes ownership and operation of the property."

Because there are wetlands on the Solon property previously identified for baseball and multi-purpose fields, City and Solon City Schools officials may create them behind Solon Middle School and split the cost.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park does not support the proposed retail and residential development on the site of the former Boston Hills Country Club, because it would cause increased flooding, erosion, and sedimentation problems along Brandywine Creek, and also create traffic congestion, ruin the area's rural character, and degrade the National Park.

The Earth Day Network released an environmental report card that used over 200 indicators to compare US cities. Of the 72 rated cities, Cleveland was ranked 70th, and had the worst air quality score in the country.

(via Planetizen)

North Royalton activists were unable to obtain a grant to create the proposed Chippewa Creek Preserve, so the North Royalton Board of Education sold the 10 acres to Zillich Homes for $285,000 and 3 acres of land.

Metro Parks, Serving Summit County completed their acquisition of 227 acres of wetlands in Twinsburg Township. The Trust for Public Land purchased the land for $3.3 million last year.

(Update: The Plain Dealer has more details.)

Solon officials are looking at other options for land where a sports field complex was planned after a survey identified wetlands on the site. 17.6 acres of wetlands were found scattered across the 36 acre site near Aurora and Pettibone Roads. Some say that the City should have tested the site before purchasing the properties.

North Royalton City Council is considering adopting the North Royalton Greenways Plan (PDF), a concept for creating a system of interconnected parks and trails that was developed by the North Royalton Greenways Committee.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is seeking a new developer for the 1840 Jim Brown Farm in Cuyahoga Falls and the 1833 Hammond-Cranz Farm in Bath Township after the previous developer was unable to secure financing.

Cleveland City Council is considering a proposal to create an urban gardening district zoning classification. It would be used to protect community gardens from development.

Work on the multipurpose trail portion of the Treadway Creek Greenway Restoration Project is slated to begin this spring. It will eventually link Harmody Park to the Towpath Trail. Planning for a second trail linking the Zoo to the Towpath is being conducted as part of the Lower Big Creek Greenway Redevelopment and Restoration project.

Foresters and service departments in southwest Cuyahoga County are preparing for the loss of their ash trees to the invasive emerald ash borer. They have established detection programs, budgeted for tree removal, and identified replacement species.

President Bush's proposed federal budget includes a $1 million funding increase for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Park officials plan to use the funds to boost maintenance, educational programs, staffing, and security.

The Medina County Park District secured a $1.2 million loan that will enable them to purchase the 360 acre Chippewa Lake. The acquisition does not include the former amusement park, which remains up for sale.

(via Urban Ohio)

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission awarded $9,999 to Cleveland State University to study transfer of development rights in Northeast Ohio.

Hoping to encourage the City of Westlake and the Westlake City Schools to reach an accord about the future of the athletic fields on Bradley Road, a group of citizens wants the property to be rezoned for recreational use only.

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