Improvements to streetscape planned for Cedar Lee
Long-planned streetscape improvements in the Cedar Lee commercial district are now on track for implementation in the summer of 2015, according to Richard Wong, Cleveland Heights planning and development director. A plan put together by Studio Techne Architects in 2008 will serve as the basis for the improvements. Studio Techne was also the firm that designed the renovation and expansion of the Lee Road Library a few years ago.
The streetscape plan calls for installing two-level LED streetlights (illuminating both sidewalk and street) and crosswalks that are more clearly defined and pedestrian friendly. Other improvements will include increased signage, more bicycle racks, some new trees and trash cans, and bio-retention facilities that will help prevent stormwater from overwhelming the sewer system.
The tall concrete planters will be removed to allow for a freer flow of sidewalk traffic, and most of the existing trees will remain.
The RTA bus stop on Lee Road by Cleveland Heights High School will be reworked to enable buses to pull completely out of the travel lane when stopping, eliminating a bottleneck for motorists during after-school hours.
Total cost of the improvements will be approximately $2.2 million, with the major share to be covered by grant funding obtained through the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA). The local share comes from various sources, including the city and the Cedar Lee Special Improvement District. CLSID, funded by additional taxes levied against properties in its service area, paid $60,000 toward the $150,000 cost of preliminary engineering by CDM Smith Inc., of Cleveland, and will contribute $40,000 a year for 10 years toward the bond debt the city will incur on the project.
The cost of a separate street repaving project for Lee Road, which will occur concurrently with the streetscape construction, will also count toward the local share of the project cost. John Zagara, CLSID president and owner of Zagara's Marketplace, pointed out that the SID’s financial participation in the project will enable the project to come about sooner than it otherwise would have.
Kelley Robinson, CLSID director, said, “We’re working to make the street a lot safer for pedestrians, motor vehicles and bicyclists, and to give the district a more cohesive feel.” She added that she hopes the improvements will encourage visitors to linger in the district, instead of leaving after patronizing just one location.
The streetscape enhancements will extend along Lee Road, from Cain Park to the library, and along the portion of Cedar Road between Edgewood and Kildare roads.
In related news, Wong stated that another Cedar Lee concern, the occasional flooding on Lee Road between Meadowbrook Boulevard and Tullamore Roads, will be addressed separately from, and will not cause any delays to, the streetscape project. Wong believes the flooding is due to stormwater runoff from the residential neighborhoods to the south and east. The bio-retention element of the streetscape project is likely to partly alleviate this problem.
Simone Jasper is a 2012 graduate of Beaumont School. She studies print journalism at Elon University and was a summer intern at the Heights Observer. Vince Reddy contributed to this article.