University Heights considers Cedar Taylor gateway
On March 7, a dozen University Heights residents joined Mayor Susan Infeld at University Heights City Hall as she introduced the city’s first Public Art Listening Session. The purpose of the community meeting was to present grant-eligible projects aimed at improving and beautifying various public spaces around the city. Infeld said she felt it was critical to the city's process to engage with the community in order to explore creative uses for the city’s public spaces.
The city recently applied for an Art Start grant, offered through the Ohio Arts Council. The grant awards recipients up to $5,000 with a one-to-one match.
This meeting focused on the intersection of Cedar and Taylor roads, and the adjoining business district. Specifically, the mayor and her staff are looking to improve the intersection’s northeast corner, the site of a building that was once home to a long-defunct Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.
The Cedar-Taylor intersection straddles a border with Cleveland Heights and serves as the first impression visitors have of University Heights when traveling east from Cleveland.
The mayor stated that "the space has wonderful potential," and came armed with several ideas to help jump-start the community dialogue. The mayor presented several creative uses for the space, such as a monument welcoming visitors adorned with the University Heights name, decorative lighting, benches and art displays. The city would look to work with local entities, such as the Heights Art Council, to acquire potential art.
Another issue of concern is the intersection’s sidewalks, which have deteriorated and need repaving and leveling. After an unsuccessful application to the county seeking funds, UH City Council approved the use of city funds through its city road program—one of many such projects that will take place over the next couple of years.
Attendees provided feedback. Several stated that lighting should be an essential component of the project, as it would provide increased safety, enhance walkability and aesthetic appeal, and help to define the district.
Other suggestions from residents focused on continuity between the northeast and southeast corners (University Square). Ideas ranged from creating a “mirror image” reflected by a monument, benches and greenery, to an arch that could extend across the street. Some suggestions may not be feasible due to the southeast corner being privately owned property, but the mayor expressed interest in exploring all suggestions.
Overall, the proposed project was well received by those in attendance. Infeld said she would hold additional public discussions and continue a dialogue for this and other proposed projects throughout the city.
The city invites feedback from all residents, even those who were not able to attend the meeting. Residents can send their thoughts and recommendations to the city at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 216-932-7800, ext. 203.
Eli Auerbach is a 10-year University Heights resident and a board member of both FutureHeights and the Heights-Hillcrest Regional Chamber of Commerce.