Resident asks city to move TOH dog park

The purpose of this message is to address the Top of the Hill (TOH) development project, and its impact on The Buckingham residential building that it surrounds, from both a financial and quality-of-life standpoint. Obviously, we are well beyond the question of the propriety of such a massive project, and it is not my intention to subvert the process or undermine the development.

What I would like to address, however, is the promise, made by the developer in public meetings, that there would be green spaces created that would be a benefit to the public. Instead, what we see being created at the very entrance to The Buckingham is an artificial-turf dog park which, in the view of Buckingham residents, is a slap in the face and a cynical effort to fulfill a promise made to the community. We hardly view this artificial turf installation as a “green space,” and regard it as an affront to the unit owners and, ultimately, as a nuisance. Additionally, it will be locked and gated for use by only TOH residents, not for the public at all, as was promised.

I strongly urge that the city, through its Building, Planning or Economic Development departments, take a fresh look at what is planned, and consider, at the very least, relocating the dog park to an alternative location on the project site and allowing for a small “pocket park,” naturally landscaped, to be substituted as a resource for the whole community. Ironically, just such a triangle of land, replete with mature trees, boulders and lawn space, is what existed in this area before it was bulldozed in favor of construction.  

If this locked and gated dog park were to be relocated toward the center of the actual TOH project, it would better serve the new residents—the only citizens to have access to this amenity—and the developer would surely be more amenable to installing landscaped screening fully surrounding the area. Such a screened-off, softened veneer would minimize the visual impact of a stark patch of fake vegetation.

Considering everything that the city has provided in accommodations and benefits to the developer, I do not believe such a request would be too much to ask, and it would, in some small measure, minimize the assault on the already diminished value of The Buckingham residential community. 

This message has been shared with each member of CH City Council, and read into the minutes of the May 19 city council meeting. As of this writing, there has been no official response. I understand there has been staff discussion around this topic, and it has been said in City Hall that “all residents’ concerns on the TOH project have been answered”—they have not. Currently, as a 36-year resident of this community, it feels like typical government reaction—ignore, deflect, and hope we go away.

Don King

Don King served as pastor of Peace Lutheran Church. He has been a resident of Cleveland Heights since 1985, and has served congregations, and been active in the local interfaith community, since 1999.

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:19 PM, 07.01.2021