Welcome to the Bruce blog—a weekly update
on news, events and issues affecting life in Cleveland. Reporting
as it happens on transit, development, planning, environment and
arts & culture.
Basically, we write about creative ideas forming,
talk to the people who have an inside track on the issues, and sometimes
offer a commentary of our own. (For disclosure purposes, Bruce blog
is a local, independent writer who also works part-time with nonprofit
Cleveland. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those
of EcoCity or any other organization).
It seems as though the Ohio Department of Transportation
(ODOT) has a few guerilla tactics
of its own in keeping anything progressive out of transportation
projects. Bruce blog has learned that ODOT led a successful coup
last week to remove the bike lanes from the Euclid Corridor Transportation
This comes nearly a year after ODOT, RTA, and the
city agreed, at Mayor Campbell’s request, to put bike lanes
into the redesigned Euclid Avenue in both directions from E. 105th
to E. 22nd streets. Apparently at last week’s meeting to approve
60 percent of the design of the Euclid Corridor, ODOT claimed that
the design of the bike lanes was “discontinuous” because
it goes from a solid to a dotted line leading up to and isn’t
striped through the intersection. ODOT now recommends striping a
five foot shoulder and putting up bike route signs.
“ODOT seems to be out to thwart the AASHTO guidelines,”
says EcoCity Cleveland Transportation Manager, Ryan McKenzie, referring
to the national standards he and others used to design the bike
lanes. “They’re making things up as they go along."
The design that McKenzie and urban designer Steve
Manka presented follows American
Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
guidelines which never stripe a lane through an intersection. A
striped shoulder with no official bike lane symbol is much more
ambiguous and is not a substitute for a bike lane, McKenzie says.
“They’re backroom sellouts,” McKenzie
says. “But, unless there’s a public outcry, it will
stay this way.”
To submit comments on ODOT’s decision to remove
bike lanes from Euclid Avenue, send an email to Ryan
Are environmental groups poised to nail the city for
a failed promise or are they on a witch hunt to blame the city for
what they already knew but denied all along about Dike 14? Environmental
groups have galvanized around attacking the city and the Port, which,
in December, reportedly discussed reopening Dike 14 to more river
and harbor dredge and spoiling plans for a lakefront park.
The latest in the dustup is whether “the Campbell
Administration appears to be reneging on the Mayor’s pledge
made in 2002 to provide a public access park at Dike 14,”
as the Sierra Club writes in its latest newsletter. The Sierra Club
article states that Lakefront Plan Director Debby Berry told the
Lakefront Advisory Committee in June 2003 that Dike 14 should be
re-opened to dredge disposal to “make it more useful.”
For its part, the city insists that environmentalists
knew of the possibility of more disposal at Dike 14 back in July,
2003. Sources at the city provided a letter from the Ohio Department
of Natural Resources that was circulated at the July advisory committee
meeting which contains the passage Sierra Club and others attribute
to Berry. In the letter dated June 12, 2003, ODNR deputy director
Scott Zody writes to Berry that “we…encourage the city
to explore options with the Army Corp. of Engineers to re-open portions
of Dike 14 to accept additional dredge material to make the site
more user friendly.”
It is unclear what Zody means by the phrase user
friendly—could he mean leveling off the large swales
that dot the 88-acre landscape? Or is it just euphemistic language
for adding dredge? Most troubling to environmentalists is this passage:
“ODNR also supports the notion of multi-use recreational facilities
at Dike 14, and would urge the city to explore options to expand
the dike so that any additional areas added to the site would be
at water level.”
In the first case, environmentalists are making plans for passive
recreation at Dike 14 such as birding sites, not multi-use facilities
like ball fields (why add ball fields when Gordon Park has them
in spades?). In addition, any mention of expansion, even one as
unclear as adding more to the site at water level, touches the nerves
of citizen and environmental groups.
Has the situation for dredge disposal changed that
dramatically in a year when Mayor Campbell made her promise to make
Dike 14 into a park? In a letter to Dike 14 stakeholders, the Army
Corp. of Engineers indicated “concerns about reopening Dike
14” and that its focus for disposal plans for Cleveland would
be on Dike 10B just north of Burke Lakefront Airport. The undated
letter contains a passage that the Corp. is “working with
the Federal Aviation Administration to design a structure compatible
with current FAA requirements.” The Corp. also says its interested
in potential for reopening dikes 9, 12 and 13. In addition, the
Corp. is supposed to consider building a new disposal facility.
But, with Dike 14 being open and not filled, it’s the path
of least resistance. Except for that pesky promise of a park.
To weigh in on the subject, The Ohio EPA will hold
a public meeting to discuss the possibility of reopening Dike 14
to more dredge fill from the river and harbor, this Thursday, January
15, 5:30 p.m. at Cleveland Public Library, 1900 Fulton Rd. You can
fill out a card in order to make a comment on the public record.
A Q&A session will follow a presentation.
The University Circle Access Boulevard, the six-
or four-lane divided roadway proposed to extend from I-77 through
the Central and Fairfax neighborhoods to University Circle, is marching
ahead to the Innerbelt Study final recommendations list. With no
major concerns voiced and with momentum picking up among local leaders,
the boulevard will eventually move toward a Phase II environmental
Bruce blog spoke to a source at University Circle
familiar with the project who notes that just one side of the industrial
corridor where the boulevard could go includes 43 U.S. Superfund
sites, or seriously contaminated brownfields. The opportunity to
open this corridor to redevelopment is creating a head of steam
for this proposal. If it passes the cost-benefit analysis, this
promises to be a national model for major brownfield redevelopment
and environmental remediation. In other words, if the promise of
millions of dollars in new industrial tax base can come back to
the city, it would be a decent use of millions of dollars in Clean
Ohio Funds and U.S. Superfund clean-up credits.
Tom Bier, Director of the Center for Housing Research
& Policy at Cleveland State University, candy coats not a damn
thing about our regional outlook. In fact, Bier paints a downright
bleak picture of the future—not only for the city of Cleveland,
but the entire MSA of Cuyahoga County—if certain realities
The cause of Bier’s fears are housing trends
that have made new developments on farmlands commonplace, and a
serious lack of supply of market-rate houses in Cleveland and developed
areas. Bier is sanguine that the situation will worsen before it
gets better, in part, because the city has been abandoned—by
its founding families and by a state that doesn’t care enough
about cities to offer relief. Right now, the burden is the city’s
to bear alone, Bier says, and its only hope is serious funding for
brownfield redevelopment—its the only thing that will level
the playing field.
Read the full
Bruce blog Q&A with Tom Bier
Regarding last week's
hotelbruce editorial: almost every statistic, including the
resale of existing homes, shows that outward migration from the
City of Cleveland has not stopped or proportionately slowed. Small-scale,
often upper-end developments in select inner-ring suburbs are not
going to change this pattern by themselves.
This continual outward migration is not welcome news.
Still, without the city's reported 1,500 new housing starts in 2003,
Cleveland would be in worse shape than it is. City redevelopment
should be encouraged in both urban affordable housing and market-valued
housing. In-fill is definitely a way to do this. Land banking and
engaging CDCs have been successful, proven revitalization tools.
At the same time, Cleveland's problems go beyond the
impact of sprawl, defined by the hotelbruce blog editorial as "large-tract
housing developments built on farmland at the metropolitan fringe."
That is an important regional land-use concern.
But right now, the City of Cleveland totters financially.
It is a city in deep trouble, it will eventually drag down Greater
Cleveland if it continues, and both the city and its suburban ring
need to be reintegrated.
It is time to institute symbiotic, enforceable regional
planning. We need to begin building an effective regional (or at
least Cuyahoga Countywide) government to replace our outmoded central
city-suburban ring structure.
Then, 1:3 new housing start ratios within Greater
Cleveland won't matter nearly as much— that is, unless there
are three households moving out of Northeast Ohio for every one
The Ohio EPA will hold a public meeting to examine data and propose
options to improve the water quality of Tinkers Creek. This tributary
of the Lower Cuyahoga River was identified by EPA as needing further
work due to higher than acceptable levels of sedimentation and pollution.
Join OEPA officials in the discussion at Solon City Hall, council
chambers from 6-8 p.m.
The Ohio EPA will hold a public meeting to discuss the possibility
of reopening Dike 14 to more dredge fill from the river and harbor,
5:30 p.m. at Cleveland Public Library, 1900 Fulton Rd.
Have you ever wondered what life in Cleveland would be like without
the need for a car? Join the next Cleveland "Car-free"
Meet-up on Tuesday, January 20 at 6 p.m. The exact location is open
for a vote. This is just like the casual klatches that the Dean
and the Kucinich campaigns are facilitating. Vote
for your preferred venue now.
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