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).
In the late 1980s, developer David Perkowski found
his niche in urban redevelopment, pioneering a movement in Tremont
and Ohio City. His approach—marketing and building spaces
that appeal to artists and urban types—reached its zenith
with last year's Tower Press. After splitting with his brother and
business partner, Doug, Perkowski's rolling the dice again on a
converted warehouse in the St. Hyacinth area of Slavic Village.
Will this be the beginning of the next chapter in Perkowski's and
the city's story?
Click to read the
Bruce blog commends reporter Jay Miller for asking
some tough questions in this week’s Crain’s
Cleveland Business (“Infrastructure costs to surpass $8B
in next decade”) about how individual communities struggle
to bear the burden of increasing infrastructure costs.
What the answers illustrate, however, is how much
the song remains the same. City and county leaders seem to throw
their hands up and suggest that building an entirely new public
works infrastructure every decade is a fact of life. But, building
a bigger mousetrap isn’t going catch ever-growing stormwater
runoff problems forever.
Creating new and ever larger pots of federal and state
funds in order to build ever-larger stormwater receptors will prove
to be an expensive and unsustainable solution. In the long-term,
managing stormwater runoff requires smart
land-use planning such as changes to subdivision regulations
to accommodate cluster
zoning—allowing for the same amount of housing in new
developments in the ‘burbs but requiring that it use up less
More rain isn’t the cause of more stormwater
and flooding problems in Greater Cleveland. Low-density developments
(such as those with minimum 5- or 2-acre lots) are multiplying impervious
ground cover, significantly increasing stormwater runoff and sewer
overflow problems, according to scientists and those working with
the state’s 2001 bi-partisan Ohio
Lake Erie Commission Balanced Growth Task Force.
Moving toward a solution means addressing the cause
of increased stormwater runoff by acknowledging that we’re
eating up land much faster than our population grows, and devising
policy and private market incentives to develop on existing urban
land. And when we do inevitably develop on greenfields, we can create
subdivisions that apportion a significant percentage of land to
retaining stormwater through greenspace protection.
If we want to reduce the burden on local municipalities
and comply with federal stormwater management regulations, land-use
planning needs to happen on a regional scale. It’s an ecologically
sound idea that will reap economic benefits. The alternative is
to continue paying higher sewer rates and to degrade the quality
of our local watersheds.
Developers of regional big box power and/or lifestyle
centers can be equal partners in finding solutions to stormwater
problems. The proposed Steelyard Commons in Cleveland and the soon
to be completed Crocker Park in Westlake could generate more than
goodwill with a comprehensive stormwater retention plan—they
might just end up paying less in impact fees with less impervious
surface and more stormwater retention. Parking structures instead
of giant surface lots, retention basins under paved surfaces, and
better landscape design that doesn’t rely on raised beds separated
by rail ties will create less stormwater and slow what’s there
from running right into the sewer (allowing it to percolate into
Development that encourages mixed uses (housing and
retail located in the same place) and transit options will reduce
the need for parking. Crocker Park developer Bob Stark is smart
to encourage transit connections, to invite RTA to reroute its community
circulator and have shoppers dropped off at the doorstep of the
shops. Even changes to local zoning codes, such as Cleveland Heights’
ordinance to allow for higher density where density makes sense—in
commercial districts—will help alleviate some of the negative
externalities of low-density development. Until we innovate and
think outside our self-imposed box, new infrastructure costs will
hamstring our development as a vibrant metropolitan region.
By Walter Wright
Recently, I was able to visit a remote, natural lakefront
harbor with views of the Cleveland lighthouse and the abandoned
Coast Guard Station, on the infamous and misnamed Whiskey Island.
Like many Clevelanders, I had never been here, and I was amazed.
Standing at the edge of the water here, you can’t
believe you are minutes from downtown. Behind you is a grass and
tree covered hump of land, a peninsula formed by a crook of the
Cuyahoga River. Bird song, cool lake breezes, and the scent of water
fill the air. In front of you is an unobstructed view of an open
expanse of blue—rare in Cleveland. There is no concrete here,
just sand, grass, driftwood, and lapping water.
To your left lies the Whiskey Island Marina, with
boats at anchor in their docks. Ahead lies the break wall, capped
by a neat lighthouse and outbuildings. To the right, at the end
of a thin break wall jutting from the beach, is the Art Deco ruin
of the abandoned Coast Guard Station, designed by one of Cleveland’s
most famous architects. Beyond the station lies the mouth of the
Cuyahoga River, where sailboats, freighters and the GoodTime III
jockey for position. It’s a wonderful sight.
Unforeseen is the future of Whiskey Island—it
lies in the balance. The Port Authority would like to control the
entire site, paving over virtually all of it for docks and the processing
of Cleveland’s busy commercial freighter traffic. Ecologists
want to preserve it; the Ohio & Erie Canalway seeks to connect
with it. Developers want to build expensive housing on it. Pleasure
boaters would like to preserve their marina. The public wants access
and greenspace. Add to the mix the County Commissioners, the tax-delinquent
Whiskey Island Partners, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and ODOT’s
planned improvements of the Shoreway. It’s a complicated picture.
The city is trying to balance all of these competing
interests by giving everyone a little bit, creating a grand, comprehensive
plan that includes the Port Authority, public parks and private
development, a marina, greenspace and even a windfarm.
Currently, there are only 1 3⁄4 of publicly
accessible lakefront properties in the 14 miles from Lakewood to
Euclid. The rest is fenced off, walled off, private, covered with
industry and concrete. Cleveland, which lacks the notable lakefront
of a Chicago or any number of cities, is trying to play catch up
with this rare opportunity. But will we create yet another sterile
pile of concrete, dominated by parking lots, private development,
and industry? Or will we successfully blend all the elements into
a whole that integrates and transcends its competing elements?
Judge for yourself, and contact Lakefront planner
Debbie Berry with
your input at 216-664-6740.
overview of competing plans with a distinct greenspace edge
terrific 1991 article by David Beach, Ecocity Cleveland
of Cleveland Plan
tours of Whiskey Island, and other Cleveland sites
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is updating
Plan to help guide the development and expansion of a statewide
system of recreational trails throughout Ohio. The ultimate vision
of the plan is to link public lands, natural and scenic areas, and
communities with a multi-modal trail system.
All trails that are planned and developed in Ohio
are part of the statewide trail vision. These include projects that
many local governments are undertaking to develop local trail systems
to provide recreation and alternate transportation opportunities.
The intent of this plan is to emphasize major statewide and regional
trails and work to incorporate local linkages into the statewide
ODNR encourages you to review this material and provide
us with any comments, input or feedback you might have by September
Hotel Bruce hosts Open Air at Market Square, at the corner of W.
25th Street and Lorain Avenue, this Saturday. Your favorite zine
of creative living in Cleveland will be on hand at this weekly celebration
as merchants from Ohio City hock their wares and local bands provide
entertainment. From 10 a.m.-1 p.m., groove to Roberto Ocasio's Latin
Jazz Project and from 1-4 p.m. Jim Miller Band will rock you. Hop
the train to W. 25th, explore the West Side Market & W. 25th
Street, and stop by, chat with the creative team at Hotel Bruce,
try Danielle's homemade cookies, enter our reader poll and hear
about the upcoming Fall issue!
Graffiti writers will come out of the dark to leave their marks
in broad daylight as Cleveland Public Art and Scion present the
third annual City Xpressionz Aerosol and Urban Art Festival at Ohio
City's Market Square Park, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. See artists and breakdancers
from around the region exhibit their work and battle for cash prizes.
The festival celebrates urban street culture with
a book signing by New York City's COPE 2, a live demonstration by
Los Angeles' TLOKS and EVOL, a Bboy/Bgirl breakdancing battle, a
variety of bands and DJs including Detroit's Athletic Mic League,
and chalk drawing for children.
Hotel Bruce, Cleveland’s online journal of creative
living, will participate with a table display and WiFi connection
to the site just outside of Talkies Cafe (come and chat with members
of the creative team and check into one of the coolest festivals
of the summer).
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