CH embarks on strategic plan update
The City of Cleveland Heights is planning a major update to its strategic plan, a framework document for the longer-term initiatives of city government. The first such plan was drafted in 1988, with the most recent update being put into place in 1993.
The strategic plan addresses many of the same topics considered during the city’s visioning process of several years ago, but the two initiatives are not directly related. The recommendations that emerged from the 18-month-long visioning process, carried out with significant citizen participation beginning in 1999, are summarized on the city’s Web site, at www.clevelandheights.com.
According to Richard Wong, director of planning and development for Cleveland Heights, the strategic plan now under construction will be more ambitious than previous versions and more accessible and useful to residents and business owners. The goals set out in the new plan will have explicit actions associated with them. Citizens will be able to view the strategic plan online and assess progress from their own viewpoints.
In response to declines in property and income tax receipts in recent years, the new plan will address ways in which city government can increase revenue and maintain or restore services, without further squeezing citizens, who are already paying high taxes.
To this end, the new strategic plan will include a spreadsheet that sets out the prospective benefits to city coffers of specific development possibilities around the city, with an emphasis on development sites owned or controlled by the city, such as Top of the Hill and Meadowbrook Lee. Attention will also be given to sites that are privately owned or owned by other units of government, and which may be suitable for adaptive reuse or redevelopment. These sites would include the long vacant Millikin school and the Oakwood club.
Wong states that the new plan will lay out the city’s strategies for taking advantage of opportunities—its adjacency to booming University Circle, for example—as well as detail its efforts to combat the deleterious and ongoing effects of the foreclosure crisis. The plan will call for advanced design standards governing renovation and new construction—standards which could influence and improve the quality of design not only within the city’s borders, but in neighboring communities as well.
For the first time, the strategic plan will address the topics of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. In this regard, the plan will complement the city’s intention to remove barriers to sustainable development from its building and zoning codes.
The plan will address major transportation topics, such as traffic calming and the “complete streets” idea, which calls for streets to safely and comfortably accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders, not just motorists.
The first two editions of the plan were the work of the city’s planning commission, a seven-member body appointed by city council. This time, after planning department staff and the commission develop draft content for the new plan, it will be forwarded to City Council for review and eventual adoption. A draft for public review will be available in June. Wong assures that there will be ample opportunity for citizen participation in the formulation of the new strategic plan’s final draft.
Vince Reddy, an urban planner employed by Cleveland Public Art, is a member of the FutureHeights board of directors and had previously served as zoning administrator for the City of Cleveland Heights.