Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ohio Attorney General asked to investigate Prairie State Energy Campus

Prairie State Energy Campus, Letter to Ohio's Attorney General, 3.22.2013

The following is a letter sent to the Ohio Attorney General urging an investigation into any potential fruad or misrepresentations that lead to municipalities accross Ohio and seven other state entering into long-term power contracts to invest in electric generation at the Prairie State Energy Campus (PSEC) in Marissa, Illinois.

Sent by:
  • E. Roberta Wade, Council Member, City of Galion, Ohio
  • Andrew M. Flock, Council Member, City of Painsville, Ohio
  • Brian J. Cummins, Council Member, City of Cleveland, Ohio
  • Danny Turner, Council Member, City of Martinsville, Virginia

Four rehab projects in the works on W. 25th Street/Pearl Road in Clark Fulton and Brooklyn Centre neighborhoods

New Elk & Elk Law Office, Aragon Ballroom and Masonic Temple Buildings have begun rehab construction and Ganley Auto opens insurance claim shop

Elk & Elk, the Cleveland injury law firm has begun work to rehabilitate the two story commercial building at 3350 W. 25th Street. The project went through an extensive design and review process in October 2012.   The building ownership transferred in December and construction began this month.

The firm has operated in Ohio for nearly 50 years, is headquartered in Mayfield Heights and has offices throughout Ohio in Akron, Canton, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown.

Total acquisition and construction costs are estimated at $500,000.

The Elk & Elk project is one of four recently started on the W. 25th Street/Pearl Road corridor.  The building is located adjacent to the American Pride Car Wash and fronts MetroHealth Drive.

Elk & Elk Building, 3350 W. 25th Street before photo (above)
and final design renderings (below).

Other buildings under construction include the former Aragon Ballroom (3179 W. 25th) also located in the Clark Fulton neighborhood and the former Masonic Temple Building (3800-3808 Pearl Road) located in Brooklyn Centre.  Ganley Auto Group has also recently opened an insurance claim repair shop following requests from auto insurance companies to locate a facility on the near west side.

(A) Aragon Ballroom, 3179 W 25th
(B) Ganely Auto, 3300 W. 25th
(C) Elk & Elk, 3350 W. 25th
(D) Masonic Temple, 3804 W. 25th
Aragon BallroomThe work being done currently on the historic Local Landmark Aragon Ballroom is primarily stabilization and emergency repair, as the building's exterior and interior is still under design.  Designs will focus on maintaining the existing interior's significant open space and will also include a new commercial kitchen and updated office.  The exterior designs are will follow historical rehab standards based on the buildings previous historic designs, with materials and color selection yet to be determined.

Fortunately the building's main flat roof was replaced within in the last eight years and the spacious dance floor has been preserved, save a few minor damaged areas that will be restored.

The new owner, Ali Faraj owns and operates the La Villa Conference and Banquet Center, located at 11500 Brook Park Road.  Ali  and his team are recently credited for transforming what was formerly a U. S. Army Reserve Center into a 54,000 Square foot banquet facility located at 11500 Brookpark Road at Chevrolet Boulevard.

Plans for the Aragon are to restore the building and utilize it as an additional Conference and Banquet Center and possibly for performance arts.  More information will be provided on this project as it completes final concept, design and approvals.  Total acquisition and construction costs are estimated at $1.2 million.

The project was under consideration for utilizing historic tax credits but a decision to forego those resources was recently made and instead the project is being considered for the City of Cleveland's Storefront Renovation Project.

The Stock Yard, Clark Fulton & Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office (SCFBC) is providing technical assistance along with technical and design consultation form the Historic Warehouse District Development CorporationHistoric Gateway Neighborhood Corporation and Sandvick Architects, Inc.

The project also contracted services from well known local historical researcher Craig Bobby. Photos, articles and a history of the building and its former owners are expected to to be displayed once the building is completed. Building renovations are expected to be finished by the end of this year.

1905 rendering and announcement of the construction of the Pearl
Amusement Company, what would become the famous Aragon Ballroom.
the building was originally operated as the Pearl Roller Rink.
1937 photo, Aragon Ballroom, west exterior frontage at 3179 W. 25th.
The Aragon Ballroom name was debuted in September of 1937. Prior names and uses from 1905 to 1937 were: Olympic Roller Rink (1911-15); Olympic Winter Garden (roller rink,1916-23); Winter Garden (roller rink) & Olympic Hall (1924-1930); Shadyside Dance Palace (1931-33); and, Winter Garden Amusement Co. (1934-37, no roller rink or dance hall).

1969 photo, Aragon Ballroom dance floor.
[Photo credit: Cleveland Press Collection of  CSU's Library Special Collections]

Masonic Temple, new owners August Garofoli and John McCartney have worked in recent months on rehabbing portions of the interior.  They are utilizing office space for their own operations and plan on increasing the tenancy and utilization of building for primarily retail and offices.  Exterior and additional interior rehab work is being planned and will follow with new leases and the attraction of new tenants.

Photo of Masonic Temple, 3804 Pearl Road.

Ganley Auto Group recently opened an auto insurance claim repair shop in a commercial structure that has been very well maintained by owner Nicholas Pandapas.  The building located at 3300 W. 25th Street needed some minor updating and construction and opened for business earlier this year.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Proposed redistrict ward map released

The following information has been released today regarding the new redistricting taking place for the 2013 elections.  These boundaries would take effect in January 2014.

Note, that the current Ward 14 represents the largest percentage and density of Hispanics in the State of Ohio.  Through the deliberations regarding redistricting, the two guiding principals that I have advocated for are keeping the percentage of Hispanics within the ward as highest as possible and trying to maintain neighborhood boundaries.

Hispanic representation - three highest populated wards, current and proposed:

Current wards:    W14, 41.0%; W15, 27.6%; W16, 21.6%; W17 20.2%
Proposed wards:  W14, 37.3%; W3, 23.9%; W11, 22.8%; W15, 19.9%

Population Estimates for new Wards & Hispanic Density on the near westside

Hispanic population density map:

[Click on image to enlarge]
See the new citywide map as well as individual ward maps with street labels below.  Note that the individual maps for Ward 5 and 6 have not yet been formatted and released.

Current Ward maps and district assignments can be found at:
Cleveland City Council Wards 2010 - 2013



Cleveland City Council to vote on new ward boundaries, effective January 2014

CLEVELAND (March 25, 2013) – Cleveland City Council will discuss the new ward boundaries during a special committee of the whole meeting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 26 and hold a special meeting immediately following to vote on the boundaries.  The new boundaries take effect on January 6, 2014.  The city will see a reduction in the number of wards and seats on Council from 19 to 17 as a part of the voter approved redistricting process.

The redistricting process began in 2012 and consisted of more than 60 meetings and phone conferences; including dialog with Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Neighborhood Development Coalition, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Greater Cleveland Partnership, University Circle Inc., and University Hospitals. The process, managed by Triad Research, involved a series of meetings and discussions in 2012 and 2013 from which the new 17 ward boundaries were created.  Council must approve the new boundaries by April 1, 2013.

In 1981, voters passed a ballot which dropped the city of Cleveland from 33 wards to 21 wards.  Voters again approved a charter change in 2008 which ties the number of wards to the population of Cleveland, with each ward representing roughly 25,000 people.  This charter change reduced Council from 21 to 19 wards in 2009.

This year, per charter requirements for decennial redistricting, the city had to once again redraw ward boundaries based on recent census numbers.  With a population of about 396,000 the number of wards drops from 19 to17.  The residents of Cleveland will vote for Council representatives of the new 17 wards during the general election on November 5, 2013.

“The redistricting process has been fair and transparent, bringing many parties together at the table to create 17 wards within the city of Cleveland,” said Cleveland City Council President Martin J. Sweeney.  “Council members, community development organizations, major businesses and organizations, as well as educational institutions, but most importantly our constituents all participated in healthy dialogs to help create the new ward map of the city.  The discussions brought about a well thought out redistricting process that will ensure our residents, businesses and institutions are well served by the city.”

Cleveland City Council will reach out to residents in the coming months via mailings, social media and website updates to inform them of which ward they will reside in 2014.



TUESDAY, MARCH 26, 2013, 9:00 A.M.




Total proposed new redistricted ward population data, click on image for a larger format:

See below for the individual ward maps with street labels.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

SCFBC Service Area Block Clubs, Community Associations and Community Gardens

What does community engagement look like?  Here it is mapped out for the Stockyard, Clark Fulton & Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office's service area:

For more information about SCFBC see here. And, click on the map below for the interactive Google Map version.

Block Clubs, Community Associations

Please call the SCFBC for information on any group you are interested in attending or learning more about.  [See full report for more detailed information and meeting schedules]
  1. Brooklyn Centre Community Association
  2. Bush Ave Block Watch
  3. Fenwick Neighbors Block Club
  4. Fulton West Block Club
  5. International Village
  6. Jones Home Historic District Community Association (formerly Daisy Area)
  7. Library, and Poe Ave. Meeting location: Jones Home Building Basement, Applewood Center Mapledale Ave Residents
  8. Stockyard Connection
  9. Village People
  10. Unity Block Club
  11. W. 33rd Street Block Club
  12. W. 33rd and Bradwell Ave Residents
  13. W. 73rd & Neighborhood Coalition

Community Interest Groups
  1. Brooklyn Centre Naturalists
  2. Cleveland TimeBank
  3. Community Forum
  4. Community Gardens
  5. Community Leaders Committee
  6. Economic Development Committee
  7. Greenspace & Land Reutilization Committee
  8. Housing Committee
  9. Mix & Mingles Open House
  10. Near West Community Council
  11. NeighborCircles
  12. Safety Committee
  13. Stockyard Steppers

Gardens and Green Space

  1. Frontier Garden
  2. New Hope Garden
  3. Fenwick Garden
  4. Brooklyn Centre Community Orchard
  5. Daisy Ave Green Garden
  6. W. 58th St Garden
  7. W. 58th St Orchard
  8. International Village NatureHood Native Plant Garden
  9. International Village Garden 4
  10. International Village Garden 1
  11. International Village Garden 2
  12. International village Garden 5
  13. International Village Orchard
  14. La Placita
  15. Placemark 16
  16. Arkansas Arbor
  17. Stockyard Community Schools
  18. Clark Elementary
  19. Boys and Girls Club
  20. Taking Root
  21. 2902 Archwood Ave
  22. New Hope Community Garden
  23. W. 73rd and Community Coalition Pocket Park
  24. PoPce Pocket Park
  25. W. 44th and Storer Cottage
  26. BCN Urban Dye Garden
  27. Bigelow Victory Garden
  28. El Sol
  29. East of Eden
  30. Lincoln West Garden
  31. NxGen Perserve 63
  32. BCN Polar Plot
  33. BCN Garden
  34. Maggies Farm
  35. Jardin de Milegros

For information on any of the above community groups or programs, please contact the SCFBC office at (216) 961-9073, 3167 Fulton Road, #302, Cleveland, Ohio 44109

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Group of youths...all it takes is one with bad behavior.

and there goes the neighborhood...or does it?

This evening as I was coming home from work, I stopped in our local McDonalds to check on an issue when I spotted 12 youth, ages 12 to 15 hanging around outside and inside the McDonalds.  Eventually all 12 found their way into the store.  

None of them had purchased anything and at one point all headed towards the back of the store where the restrooms are located.  A customer tried to speak to a few of them when he felt they were disrespectful to him, being too loud and abrasive, or at least rough-housing with each other.  

I got the attention of the manager on duty and he spoke to some of them and got them to leave the property without incident.  They did not appear to be overtly troublesome, but their sheer numbers appeared to increase their chance for mischief.

As a local elected official serving the neighborhoods where I live, I of course come across circumstances that normal residents are confronted with. Situations that can frustrate and aggravate law-abiding citizen and force them to question; what’s happened to my neighborhood, what’s wrong with the youth today?  Situations where a typical person may want to do something to change someone’s behavior, or call someone out for some form of nuisance behavior.

As a Councilman, my office receives lots of calls and reports of nuisance activities. Where nuisance behavior is chronic and the people involved indentified, we even go as far as meeting with the folks who report the activity as well as the people alleged to have caused the nuisances.  In serious, chronic cases that continue we even engage the City of Cleveland’s Community Relations Board and attempt mediation or at a minimum separate communications with all parties (landlords, tenants, neighbors, etc.)

Back to my encounter with my neighborhood youth… I left McDonalds in my car and followed the youth, as they were headed in the direction of my home.  I watched them as they entered a local shopping centre where they checked out a few stores and appeared to be warned again by a store employee to leave a premises after all of them piled in together and likely drew attention for their behavior as before.

I then followed them down one of our residential streets and drove a few blocks up in front of them to monitor their activities.  There were three girls, and nine boys.  Three or four of the boys were rough housing with each other and while doing so, running in and out of neighbor’s yards and onto a few landscape rocks, walkways and driveways.  Finally as they passed me and my car, parked on the side of the street, I saw three of the boys pick up some pebbles or small rocks and they proceeded to throw them at a mattress that was leaning on the front of a house.  The presence of the mattress itself bothered me.  It was either for sale or someone was moving in or out and seemed to have left it there unattended.

In wanting to continue my monitoring, I went to move my car, again ahead of the group.  While driving by them, my back window was struck by one of the youth’s pebbles.  I reacted pretty swiftly, stopped my car, put my flashers on and went to speak to the youth.  I tried to introduce myself and tried to explain that I was an elected official.  They didn’t know what a Councilman was and they assumed I was some sort of law enforcement person – I had a suit coat and tie on.

A few of the youth tried to engage with me, but their numbers worked against them and a few began mocking me and making juvenile remarks.  When it was apparent I was unable to reason with the group as a whole, I made a decision to call the police.  They were standing around me and witnessed my call.  They seemed befuddled.  Some began walking away, a few tried to stay back to see what I would be reporting.  I finished my call to the dispatcher while I was in my car.  One of the younger boys knocked on my window and told me he knew which boy threw the rock. I thanked him and tried again to explain to him I meant them no harm and just wanted to speak with them about their behavior.

Knowing that it could take time for the police to come, I followed the youth who continued to walk down the residential street.  They cut through a few alleys and I lost them for 10 minutes or so. By the time the police came, half of the youth were still hanging out in the vicinity and the together with the police we went to speak with them.

We spoke with the three girls and three of the younger boys.  Even with only six of them, they were loud, accusatory, defensive and rude, interrupting the police officers and wandering away from the conversation the officers tried to engage them in.

We ultimately took down their names, phone numbers and addresses.  The officers explained to them that they could of taken two of the 12-year-olds to their homes and fined their parents $150.  The curfews in Cleveland are – dusk for 12 and under; 9:30 pm for 13-14 year olds; 11:00 pm for 15-16 year olds and 12:00 midnight for 17 year olds.

Once I got home and checked out the addresses it turns out that a few of the youth live in homes that we’ve received complaints about over this past summer.  This past summer there were incidents I came across as well as received reports where as many as 25 youth were congregating and involved in similar activities of minor trespassing, rough-housing or play fighting in the middle of the street, blocking traffic and causing a raucous.  Their activities particularly bothered our older residents.

On several of these occasions parents of some of these youth defended their activities or made comments such as what else do you want them to do, they’re just playing.  Or, they're not all my kids – although four or five of them out of 25 were, and they were causing a neighborhood disruption for more than a half an hour.

Over the past few summers I’ve been able to effectively deal with smaller groups of youth.  In one example, two sisters who displayed rude behavior of littering, shouting obscenities etc.  In their case, I got to know their mother.  Got to know them better and their behavior seemed to improve.  Improve to the point they helped me identify other problem youth as they seemed to understand that their past behavior was not appropriate.

So after this evening’s incident, I’m thinking of several scenarios for trying to effectively deal with the youth I encountered.  One thought is to send their households letter, possibly meet with them individually as familes, or possibly as a group invited to a larger meeting.  I’m thinking of involving the City’s Community Relations Board staff, and of course the Police – either the Community Service Unit officers, and/or the commander.

I also want to use this opportunity to try to help empower other residents to report and act on this type of nuisance behavior.  We’ve periodically discussed writing down a neighborhood code of conduct or neighborhood norms or shared expectations for behavior.  I hate to hear people talk in generalities about nuisance behavior.  Too often renters are lumped in as a group of problem residents, but I’ve seen families that own their own homes present serious nuisance problems as well.  Too often this type of behavior can be too difficult to document and clearly identify, i.e., names, addresses etc.  And, too often the police don't arrive in time to catch or verify the nuisance, as the incidents reported aren't presenting an apparent or immediate danger and the police often have  numerous code ones or twos (more serious and immediate threatening incidents) ahead of your call that delay their response time.

Block or street clubs/groups can be enormously helpful in identifying and pinning down details, but they’re often hard to maintain and keep their momentum and usefulness going.  The local development office - Stockyard, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office has been successful at supporting community engagement, and they are open to trying new ideas such as a relatively recent development of trying to organize Neighbor Circles as opposed to more traditional forms of block cubs.  They also assist a local resident driven Safety Committee that I’ll surely bring this issue and incident to their attention and seek their ideas and opinions on how we as a community can better deal with these issues.

Below are some reference documents I find helpful.  What do you think can and should be done to deal with nuisance problems?  Have you encountered incidents like this? What do you think?  Feel free to share in the comment section here, or join in a discussion at the Civic Commons.

Let me know how you view and are engaged in your neighborhood.  Or why you aren’t.  What are your hopes and fears and what can we do to help each other reach them and confront or soothe them?


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cleveland City Council to approve new redistricting plan by April 1, 2013

Redistricting information and maps for Ward 14 and the City of Cleveland

Cleveland City Council is likely to begin hearings, and possibly seek approval by vote, by Monday, March 18th for the required redistricting that will occur this year. The Council will be reduced in size from the current 19 to 17 wards.  New wards, by law have to be approved by April 1st, due to the passage of the re-districting legislation in 2008 and the results of the 2010 census.

Cleveland's 2010 population as reported by the census was 396,830.

For a perspective on the change in Northeast Ohio and Cleveland's population, here is an excellent article by Robert Smith.
Council leadership is responsible for drafting the new redistricting plan. Throughout the past year Council members have provided input to the plan but no citywide plan has been shared with all council members of the public to-date.

Below is a mashup of the PD map showing population loss and our current 19 Wards. Current Ward maps can be found here.

2008 Charter approved redistricting table:

City of Cleveland re-districting formula approved November 2008 requires the number of wards to be determined by estimated population with a ratio of one ward for every 25,000 people.  "The wards so formed shall be as nearly equal in population as may fair and equitable, composed of contiguous and compact territory, and bounded by natural boundaries or street lines.  The 2010 US Census  estimated Cleveland's population at 396,815.

Potential changes for Ward 14

Through recent consultations with Council leadership, Ward 14 district boundaries are expected to retain the current central portions of the ward with the potential of losing areas to the immediate northeast and gaining population to the west.