Residents share ideas for Cedar-Fairmount

Grandview resident Michael Bier captures ideas at the breakout session.

Enhancing livability in the Cedar-Fairmount business district was the topic of discussion at the Cleveland Heights Community Center on June 5. In the first of three planned public meetings, residents, business owners, consultants, and public officials focused on transportation. Representatives from City Architecture and Michael Baker Jr., Inc. presented their analysis of existing conditions in the district and attendees shared their reactions and ideas.

The city has formed a steering committee of residents, business owners and other stakeholders to guide the planning process. Funding is provided by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA)’s Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative.

“One of the main goals of the project is to provide a balance between the vehicular traffic, bicycle traffic and the pedestrian realm. Currently, that balance does not exist and the vehicle is favored,” says project architect Paul Volpe.

Cedar Road is currently six lanes in the Cedar-Fairmount business district. According to a traffic study conducted by Michael Baker Jr., Inc., the morning peak hour sees approximately 1,400 cars traveling westbound through the district and 2,800 cars travel westbound down Cedar Hill. In the evening, the situation is reversed. Roughly 2,800 cars travel eastbound up Cedar Hill. About 1,250 of those veer left to Euclid Heights Boulevard, while about 1,500 continue eastbound through the district.

“There was strong support for the preliminary notion of narrowing the roadway (possibly removing a traffic lane) in order to provide wider sidewalks that would better serve as public space and support the businesses along Cedar Road,” says Volpe. “We heard from attendees wanting nicer landscaping along the street, better signage for the district and more effective pedestrian amenities such as benches, waste receptacles and bicycle racks.”

Participants raised several issues. The south side of Cedar Road from the auto repair shop to the bank is unpleasant for pedestrians. It is difficult and unsafe for pedestrians to cross Cedar Road. Parking in the district is difficult because of poor signage and the existing garage is inadequate and dated. Sidewalks in front of the Heights Center Building are too narrow.

Participants said they wanted better connections to the rapid transit station at the bottom of Cedar Hill; more on-street parking; wider sidewalks and more public amenities; a family-friendly, breakfast destination; improved bus stop facilities; longer evening hours for stores and restaurants; more boutiques and galleries; and better linkage to surrounding business districts. Residents also said they wanted more businesses that serve neighborhood needs.

“The Cedar-Fairmount District must be considered as a true mixed-use, multi-modal district that extends beyond Cedar Road and begins to enforce the strong connections into the surrounding neighborhoods,” says architect Paul Volpe.

The city of Cleveland Heights has plans to develop “Top of the Hill,” a 3.5 acre parcel located where Cedar Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard merge to form Cedar Hill. “In order to accommodate growth, the transportation patterns and suggestions for the final report will take into consideration the additional traffic that will result with successful development within the district,” said Volpe.

The next public meeting will be held in late August or early September. According to Volpe it will focus on presenting the community's ideas within the context of the district with preliminary street plans, roadway lane configurations, development opportunities, and small scale initiatives that can occur in the district.

“It is the goal of the project team to engage the stakeholders and community at every step to ensure the goals of the project are in-line with the many people that live, work in and use the district on a regular basis,” said Volpe

The meeting will air on Channel 23 for one week beginning July 7 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. For more information, contact the city of Cleveland Heights at 291-4845.

Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and a Cedar-Fairmount resident.

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Volume 1, Issue 4, Posted 4:59 PM, 06.18.2008