It is easy to find “signs” of impending decline in a community. Cleveland Heights has endured population flight, growing poverty, abandoned homes, and menacing youth behavior. Lacking perspective, relative newcomers attracted by stories about a progressive, diverse, dedicated community may construct from these developments a simplistic declension narrative. For longtime residents, memory poses a different problem—unconscious selectivity. Their minds may conjure a time when Cleveland Heights was flush with people—some 60,000 in 1960. In those days virtually every dwelling was occupied. Poverty was less common and much less visible. Business districts were filled with friendly stores. Waves of suburban expansion were still washing over the Heights and just beginning to lap at Pepper Pike and Solon. Memory, whether short or clouded, makes it all too easy to plot each piece of bad news on an imagined downward curve. Yet history belies such direct conclusions.
On Nov. 8, Ohioans will go to the polls to vote on Issue 2, a referendum petition to decide whether the collective bargaining reforms contained in SB 5 will become Ohio law. A “yes” vote means the reforms will become law while a “no” vote will maintain the status quo.
Fall is a wonderful time to cook and your first stop should be the North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square. There are soups, stews, and roasts which can be made from pasture-raised meats from the market, and hearty fall vegetables, such as squash, broccoli, potatoes, onions and cauliflower. Baking with nutritious apples is a wonderful way to celebrate the harvest.
The Cleveland Heights–University Heights City School District has shown continual improvement in recent years, and current plans show promise to dramatically boost student achievement in the coming years.
Before those plans can produce results, our community first has to pass Issue 6, or our schools will face very tough times ahead. In the past four years, the district has cut more than $7 million in spending, and if Issue 6 fails on Nov. 8, it will face another $7 million in cuts that will impact the quality of education. With almost $4 million in additional state cuts scheduled in the next two years, every dollar counts.
Cleveland Heights has long cultivated a reputation as a community that is working hard to preserve its historic homes, its walkable, tree-lined neighborhoods, and its progressive ideals that, at times, filter up to city hall and are engrained in policy. The inner-ring suburb is also known for its law-and-order outlook, and a government that doesn't always reflect the enclave of liberals who were once on the vanguard of civil rights issues like fair housing and racial integration.
I have been a Cleveland Heights resident for a little more than a year and a half. It will officially be two years this November. Prior to this, my family and I were "west siders" for all of our lives.
We relocated to Cleveland Heights because it was relatively close to where my wife was working at the time. It was also the same place that we had daydreamed about living in when we were dating.
The SmartHome is nothing short of amazing! It’s a game-changer! I know of no other way to describe the combination of “passive” features, such as sun-harvesting triple-pane windows and super insulated and sealed building shell with “active” advanced low-energy consuming electric heating and cooling equipment. The result is a state-of-the-art performance package. This is the approach used when designing a house to meet the high certification standards established by the Passive House Institute US.
On Aug. 18, a group of about 30 people sat at the Lee Road Library, mostly in stunned silence, watching the film “Gasland,” a screening sponsored by the Burning River Anti-Fracking Network. Written and directed by Josh Fox, the movie records his journey across the country to view the effects of hydraulic fracturing. Also known as “fracking,” the process is the gas and oil industry’s latest attempt to extract more money from the earth.
I enjoy reading the Observer blogs from time to time. I find them to be entertaining, informative and on occasion challenging. In August, Bob Rosenbaum posted one titled "Before the city council elections, let’s define ‘excellent.’" His concern relates to what makes an "excellent" government.
Cleveland has abandoned downtown living since the Roaring ‘20s. We tore down most of the mansions on our main street (Euclid Avenue). Further, shortly after WWII and continuing today, most of the downtown manufacturing spaces have been abandon, leaving their empty shells in a ring around the outer, mostly east-side areas of downtown.
When I moved to Cleveland Heights, the big attraction was that it was artsy. I was a recent MFA and a divorced mother of a preschooler. If I couldn’t go back to New York City, then I was determined to live in what I felt was the closest thing to it in Cuyahoga County. So, 15 years ago I settled into Coventry Village.
University Heights might be John Carroll University’s namesake, but relations between the two continue to be “stressed” at best. The university made a request to modify three parts of a 2002 agreement for the use of Shula Stadium. In essence, the request asks that the university be allowed to increase the use of the stadium for non-JCU events and for intramural sports, with a change in the restrictions for use of lights and sound.
On the surface, this appears to be a reasonable request. Today’s college students factor fitness centers and sports (varsity and intramural) into their choice of where to attend school.
The fight to save Oakwood kicked up a notch last week when South Euclid City Council voted unanimously to rezone it to make way for big box and “value-oriented” retail. If you have followed the news about Oakwood, it documents South Euclid City Council doing the developer's bidding. At the last meetings, council asked First Interstate to give the right of first hire to South Euclid residents, to require a living wage ($8.80/hr) for people employed in the stores, and to include a dark store provision (the promise that buildings left vacant for a certain amount of time would be torn down). First Interstate responded no, no and no. Council caved; everyone in Cleveland has argued longer and harder over LeBron’s “Decision” than any City Council member did about a project that means ripping up the largest remaining green space in the inner ring suburbs.
After a decade of city mismanagement, the rehabilitation of Taylor Road is in jeopardy of being stalled indefinitely by expensive litigation.
The project had called for narrowing of the seven-lane South Taylor Road and allocating some of that new space for wider tree lawns and pedestrian access on the residential west side of the road. But the city secretly altered the plan to add all the land to the already oversized setbacks on the commercial east side of the road. The city intentionally rejected the public input it had received but never notified its citizens of this ill-conceived decision.
As drawn today, the $7.25 million rebuild of South Taylor Road, scheduled to begin construction this summer, won’t make any improvements for those who use this major north-south connector (one of the few in Cleveland Heights) on a bike. The pedestrian experience on the six-lane stretch between Mayfield Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard is little improved. Why is that, and what can be done to tweak the plans?
A good, mud-splattered time was had by the 50 volunteers who turned out for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health-backed Forest Hill Park-Dugway Brook Clean-Up Day on May 14, coordinated by the cities of East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights.
Much of the focus of the cleanup was in the valley where the two branches of Dugway Brook join together and the park borders of Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland abut.
A Toro minitractor and two ATVs helped haul out about 50 bags of trash. Participants also collected an oxygen canister, a plastic chair, several plastic storage cubes, plastic tubing, a camp stove, about 20 tires and a transmission.
University Heights , Ohio...my home town...Do we really need this in the middle of a beautiful town?
More urban sprawl... Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
The Real Meaning of the Closing of Seitz-Agin Hardware
The last time I talked to Joel about the store’s health was shortly after I learned that the weekly deliveries had been curtailed. He told me that he felt he had survived the impact of Home Depot. But what he wasn’t sure he could survive is a change he observed in his customers. They just weren’t making repairs anymore the way my father did and the way I do. They had stopped calling for referrals to plumbers and plasterers and furnace guys--old-home experts who bought their supplies from Seitz-Agin.
It's remarkable to me now that when I arrived in Cleveland in 1958, Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights were still fairly solid bastions of rigid political conservatism, blatant racism, anti-Semitism and jingoistic patriotism.
Volunteers are busily organizing the Heights Community Congress’s 34th annual Heights Heritage Home and Garden Tour. Thousands of people explore the area’s rich architectural heritage on the tour each September, but how is a tour of beautiful homes relevant to an organization founded as a watchdog for fair housing practices?
There is no demand here for more retail. So we ask how the developer [of the Oakwood property] can make money in a market with declining demand, declining population and declining income. New stores take business from the old stores. It’s been happening for years; it’s been studied and well documented.
To see a larger image, click on View Image Gallery and then click on the image to make it larger.
The plan to narrow South Taylor Road between Euclid Heights Blvd. and Mayfield Road, from seven lanes to five, is an improvement that is long overdue.
This brilliant idea is tarnished, however, because the Cleveland Heights administration is allocating all of the liberated land to the commercial zoning east of South Taylor, and offering nothing to the residents on west side of the heavily traveled roadway.
Cleveland Heights resident, artist and writer Ralph Solonitz, was born in 1947 in Munich, Germany, the son of Holocaust survivors. He began doodling, first in German and then later in English. His father gave him motivational advice: "Stop your doodling, you are vasting time and vill amount to nutting." Fast forward 55 years, thousands of dollars for therapy, and he still can't stop doodling.
Only some of the information that the Observer collects makes it into the printed edition.
If you haven’t been online lately, here’s some of what’s waiting for you:
From our new blogs: (blogs.heightsobserver.org):
South Euclid's elected wrecking crew Insights into revenue lost to CH-UH schools when South Euclid bought and razed the now-vacant Cedar Center North.
Feeling lucky? Try your hand at Cleveland Heights' new slot-machine parking meters. Guaranteed to make parking more fun.
Myths regarding the future of the Oakwood Club abound. Here are some of them.
Myth: It’s too late to do anything about turning Oakwood into a park. Only the South Euclid portion has been sold to a prospective developer, First Interstate Properties Ltd., and the entire property, in both South Euclid and Cleveland Heights, is zoned for single-family residential use. Any commercial, retail or high-density residential development would require rezoning in at least one of the cities before it could be built.
And after the snow fell, we all took turns shoveling the frozen parking lot. Cumberland Skaring Rink . . . A place where friends met friends, and the pot-bellied stove kept us warm between games of hockey, snapping the whip, or just hangin' around. This was the time for pushing our luck . . . looking for trouble . . . and soon, women.
According to the State of Ohio, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District has too much building space per student. The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) has set a square-footage-per-student to objectively measure educational effectiveness across districts.
The OSFC recommends 120 square feet per student for elementary schools, 145 for middle schools and 160 for high schools. CH-UH has 438,343 square feet in its elementary schools, 356,507 in its middle schools and 395,400 in its high school for a total of 1,190,250 square feet. That’s 453,450 square feet more than the state recommends.
"Saturday Night Live" recently opened with a skit in which a fake John Boehner proclaimed, “The American people spoke loudly and clearly: Stop the tax hikes and stop the spending.” Asked what programs to cut, he said, “The American people were not clear on that.”
Our own region faces the same challenge. We need to significantly reduce spending, but how do we do it without abandoning core responsibilities? Consider this: A big reason taxes aren’t lower in Northeast Ohio is that we have an oversupply of housing and commercial development. This depresses the value of all properties, and means we need higher tax rates to fund services.
I was excited about Cleveland Heights trying to become more bicycle-friendly by installing sharrows on some roads, but I am very concerned about the way it was done. Instead of improving safety for cylists, the new sharrows actually seem to increase the danger to bicyclists.
Though not mentioned in Nick Matthew's [November] Heights Observer article on the new sharrows in Cleveland Heights, the main purpose of sharrows is to help bicyclists position themselves in the lane.
The city is using sharrows to encourage motorists and bicyclists to share the road. The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices reads (Section 9C.07):
The city of Cleveland Heights has received an overwhelmingly positive response from the community since installing the sharrows in late October.
The Observer does not take editorial positions. Though I am a board member of FutureHeights and chairman of its committee to oversee operation of the Heights Observer, what follows is my personal opinion as a lifetime resident of Cleveland Heights. It has not been endorsed or supported in any way by FutureHeights or the Heights Observer.
Perhaps you’ve read How to Walk to School: Blueprint for a Neighborhood School Renaissance by Jacqueline Edelberg and Susan Kurland, or read about the book in the June issue of the Heights Observer, or Eleanor Mallet’s column in the July issue. Either way, you’re invited to join the local How to Walk to School movement that's gaining traction here.
The Cleveland Heights Planning Commission, with assistance from the city’s Department of Planning and Development, has released its Strategic Development Plan 2010: Planning Commission Recommendations to City Council June 25, 2010.
Landscapes are an integral part of a community, and landscaping is a prominent aspect of community development. The idea is less about raising awareness of the environment, and more about bringing people into a neighborhood. Yet more goes into landscaping than planting and weeding.
Many commercial districts throughout Cuyahoga County have programs to beautify their streets with hanging flower baskets or flowerpots. Coventry, Larchmere, Cedar Fairmount and Cedar Lee all have flowers. Along the Euclid Corridor, curly concrete flower pots resembling paper wrapped around a bouquet—designed by Mark Reigelman II, a 2006 graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art— were a gift to the city.
When one has lived in a city for too long, it has been my experience that distaste for the place can develop. Growing up in Cleveland, I often heard phrases along the lines of "Cleveland sucks" or "Cleveland is boring," or other negative sentiments. I was no exception.
When vacationing in Seattle or New York City, I enviously eyed their populated downtown areas, energetic vibe, and other attributes I thought of as "cool."
"Why can’t Cleveland be like that?" was a common, though unexpressed, question in my mind.
When my husband and I moved to Cleveland Heights from Chicago nearly six years ago, we assumed we would send our son to the local public school. We wavered after hearing mixed messages about the schools. We agonized over the question: Should we send our son to private school? After three years of back and forth, I still wanted to send my son to the public school. My son could make friends in the neighborhood. He could walk to school. I wanted to invest my energy in the community and its schools.Now the decision is made; my son will go to Fairfax Elementary in the fall.
I can't wait for the new McDonalds to be built where the Waterway carwash wasn't.
Why just last Saturday I took myself into a golden arches for a cup of coffee. It was so entertaining counting the cars that lined up from the drive through window out into the street for several blocks.
At its Jan. 5 meeting, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education voted 3-2 against selling the Millikin Elementary School property at public auction. The question is, why?
In March 2007, the school board placed the Millikin property up for public auction. It received proposals from four parties. The highest cash offer was Mosdos Ohr Hatorah, a Jewish school. Mosdos planned on relocating from its current building on Warrensville Center Road. However, the board rejected all bids because its members felt they could receive “fair market value” by postponing the sale.
What’s so great about Cleveland? The Cleveland International Film Festival, that’s what! It’s a movie buff’s "pig heaven." This annual event presents more than 300 films from about 80 countries -- feature films, documentaries, short subjects, and more -- during its 10-day run.
From the festival’s early days, 34 years ago at our own neighborhood Cedar Lee Theatre, the event has grown to more than 71,000 passionate attendees this year, breaking all previous records.
As spring breaks, our town seems a friendlier place. Without any special planning, we find ourselves running into neighbors who hadn’t been more than a distant glimpse for the past three or more months.
It’s worth a thought why this comes about year after year. One factor is that the sidewalks on many streets are often virtually impassable in the snow months. The chances for casual social interactions drop precipitously.
On March 6, at the University of Akron, 15 students from Roxboro Middle School demonstrated that, when it comes to science education, the CH-UH City School District really rocks!
It was Roxboro’s second appearance in the regional Science Olympiad, and the school’s teams earned a fifth place finish out of 25 schools, and a trip to the statewide competition on April 17 at Ohio State University.
Calling all friends of Forest Hill Park: your favorite place to (check one) walk, run or hang out with (check one) your boyfriend, girlfriend, children or dog, needs your help.
Forest Hill Park means much to many people. With its huge old-growth oaks, large open meadows, and steep wooded ravines, it is a natural treasure—an old-world deer park transplanted into the middle of an American city.
Tuesday is my least favorite day in Cleveland Heights because it is trash day. I’m not opposed to trash, but I detest the remnants left over each week from our failed waste and recycling programs.
I walk my dog several times a week, and Tuesdays are frustrating. Instead of enjoying the walk through my beautiful neighborhood, I maneuver a gauntlet of chicken bones, pizza boxes, candy wrappers and unknown, unrecognizable food remnants, hoping my dog does not digest any of this dangerous smorgasbord.
I cannot let January 2010 pass without acknowledging the 10th birthday of the organization that led to not only the Heights Observer, but has given the residents of Cleveland Heights, and now also University Heights, many opportunities to be active citizens and make a true difference in their communities.
In January 2000, in response to Giant Eagle's plans to build a 50,000 square foot store on Cedar Hill, more than 350 people from the neighborhood came together at a town meeting to voice their concern that drastically changing the historic physical fabric of the area would not be in the long-term best interest of the community.
The buzz around town and in the Heights Observatory Forum (www.heightsobserver.org/deck/) is that the Oakwood Golf Course may be for sale.
This is an opportunity to add a valuable amenity to our area: a passive park. Urban land use rotates; maybe, at some point, the best use of this land will be housing. But that is not its best use now.
When I did an Internet search for homes in Cleveland Heights that are for sale for over $300,000, I found 54 properties, including two on Oakwood Drive, located on the golf course. Many of these properties include a 10-year tax abatement.
Cleveland Heights has plenty of empty or low-quality commercial space that can be demolished or reconfigured if demand for commercial property increases. Remember the empty school properties when you are looking for large tracts of land to put to new uses.
It’s time to think big. What if the founders of Cain Park in the 1930s had failed to act on the opportunity to create something long-lasting and meaningful for the community?
I was privileged to be part of the Cleveland Sustainability 2009 gathering this past August. Our goal was no less than to celebrate Cleveland becoming a “green city on a blue lake.”
The way towards that goal is to leverage the abundance of assets of our region towards practical and measurable outcomes. The future calls us to re-tool our economic engine towards a green economy. This new economic engine would bring jobs to the inner city, strengthen our suburbs and stimulate prosperity in Northeast Ohio.
“Money is like an iron ring we've put through our noses. We've forgotten that we designed it, and it's now leading us around. I think it's time to figure out where we want to go -- in my opinion toward sustainability and community -- and then design a money system that gets us there.” --Bernard Lietaer in Beyond Greed and Scarcity
Stimulus dollars, the failure of many banking institutions (including our own National City Bank), the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler and our federal government’s buy-in to the tune of trillions of dollars will lead to super inflation or hyperinflation.
Now University Circle Inc. (UCI) is in the midst of a five-year plan to create “the premier urban district.” The plan builds on the Circle’s anchor institutions to make it “the fastest-growing area in the region,” with new housing, shopping, and other improved and new amenities.
It may not always seem to be in fashion, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about civility. In fact, it’s perhaps more important than ever to our quality of life as a community.