Tuesday, February 13, 2007

New leadership for ODOT

It looks like the standard MO for ODOT will be changing sooner rather then later. According to a press release through Hannah News Wire, the new ODOT head, James Beasely, will be pursuing a more sustainable approach for Ohio's transportation projects. (See highlighted comments below.)
What this means for Cleveland and the Innerbelt project remains to be seen. Stay tuned...

Strickland Pick Augurs Policy Changes at ODOT
Hannah News Wire

The governor's office has maintained a general position of neutrality about many of the recommendations from his transition team review of state agencies, but an announcement Monday would appear to signal a new policy direction atthe Ohio Department of Transportation.

Gov. Strickland said longtime Brown County Engineer James Beasley, who happened to have served as transition team coordinator for ODOT, will become the department's new director effective March 5.

"Jim understands that an efficient and reliable transportation network contributes to and enhances economic growth," said Strickland of his 30-year acquaintance. "I am confident that he will not only be a tremendous leader in developing and maintaining safe roads for Ohioans, but will guide the department in a way that helps create jobs."

Strickland's comment points back to recommendations in Beasley's ODOT transition team report, which among other conclusions indicated the department would have to consider additional payroll cuts of one and a half percent along with other reductions to offset rising fuel and material costs and dwindling federal funding. Staffing cuts alone could save ODOT $70 million through 2010, noted the report.

Beasley's report said fiscal soul-searching would also be necessary to realign priorities around "multi-modal" transportation facilities and away from a limited focus on Ohio's primary arteries. "ODOT changed its name many years ago, but many believe it still thinks of itself as a highway department," noted the report. "ODOT needs to embrace a multi-modal economically driven project selection process that serves all of Ohio. This process needs to realize that land use patterns are a direct result of the transportation system serving them. Planning and decision making should be weighted toward containing urban sprawl."

The statement echoes that of Executive-in Residence Thomas Bier of Cleveland State University's College of Urban Affairs, who brought a significantly different perspective to testimony before the Eminent Domain Task Force last year. He said transportation and land-use practices would continue the erosion of not only Ohio's major cities but also its first- and second-ring suburbs.

"State government aggravates the situation by facilitating and promoting the development of new communities (by, for example, widening highways and building interchanges, which are powerful boosters of development) and then disregarding the deleterious effects on old communities ...."

Beasley's report offered one solution to the problem:

"Thought should be given to creating an integrated network of multi-modal facilities that seamlessly links Ohio's citizens, businesses, railways, highways, and port facilities into the most efficient transportation system possible. Ohio can be a premier gateway to international commerce and a hub for the nation's freight."
The report said state projects under ODOT would need to work with local mass transit to make this vision a reality.

As to questions over the state turnpike that became prominent in the 2006 gubernatorial election, transition team recommendations noted that, "the general consensus of stakeholders is that the turnpike is well run and provides an important transportation link in northern Ohio."

"Businesses are in business to make money," noted Beasley's report. "The only way to make money on the turnpike, if privatized, is to raise tolls or lower operating costs. Neither of these scenarios is good. But, if this would be a logical outcome, why can't the public sector do it and realize a profit?"

The 57-year-old Beasley will bring more than three decades of experience in transportation planning and construction to the various issues facing ODOT. He has served as Brown County engineer since 1980 and was previously the county's deputy engineer between 1975-1979. He served as the sole proprietor for Beasley Engineer and Surveying between 1975-1984 and worked for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources from 1973 to 1975. He graduated from The Ohio State University in 1972 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and earned his master's degree in hydraulic and hydrologic engineering OSU in 1973.

Beasley has also served two separate terms as vice chair and chair of the District 15 Ohio Public Works Committee. He has been awarded a life membership by the Township Trustees Association of Brown County and has received an Awardof Merit for Outstanding Accomplishments in Resource Conservation from the Brown County Soil and Water Conservation District. In 2000, he was recognized by ODOT for Covered Bridge Preservation.

He resides on a farm outside Georgetown with his wife, Alta.

"I am eager to work with our state's various regions and cities to ensure that all Ohioans have access to a quality, statewide transportation system," said Beasley. "This cooperation is absolutely necessary to ensure that economic development and job creation in every part of the state remain key priorities of ODOT."

Subject to the advice and consent of the Ohio Senate, Beasley will earn an annual salary of $124,758 as the state's new transportation director, the same amount as former ODOT Director Gordon Proctor.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cleveland City Council passes West Shore Corridor resolution

North-east Ohio is one step closer to seeing commuter rail on the west side of Cleveland and the western suburbs thanks to All Aboard Ohio.


Feb. 7, 2007 (216) 288-4883 or (216) 986-6064

Cleveland City Council passes West Shore Corridor resolution

CLEVELAND -- At its regular meeting Monday, City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Ohio Congressional Delegation to provide $1.5 million in each of the next two federal fiscal years for an alternatives analysis of potential transportation improvements in the West Shore Corridor.

If the funding is provided, a variety of transportation improvements between downtown Cleveland, the West Shore suburbs, downtown Lorain and possibly beyond will be weighed to determine their costs and benefits. Potential impacts on economic development, access to jobs, plus natural and built environments will be measured. A public involvement process will be an essential part of the analysis.

Transportation improvements could include adding commuter rail, expanding express bus service, restructuring existing bus routes, providing more hiking/biking paths and enhancing the existing roadway system. Sub-elements could feature transit-oriented development around stations, better transit waiting environments, adding quiet zones to the existing Norfolk Southern rail line and more.

Once the options for improving transportation in the West Shore Corridor are analyzed, a preferred alternative may be selected by the region's stakeholders and funding may be sought to implement it.

All Aboard Ohio, a statewide nonprofit association, thanked City Council for passing the resolution. Special recognition goes to Ward 15 Councilman Kevin Kelley, chair of the Aviation & Transportation Committee, for introducing the resolution. Additional recognition goes to council members who joined Councilman Kelley in sponsoring the resolution -- Anthony Brancatelli, Patricia Britt, Joe Cimperman, Roosevelt Coats, Kevin Conwell, Brian Cummins, Martin Sweeney and Matthew Zone.

"I gratefully appreciate council's passage of this important resolution," said Ken Prendergast, All Aboard Ohio's director of research and communications. "It sends a clear message to Congress that maintaining access to jobs in the West Shore Corridor is of paramount concern to City Council. Whatever transportation improvements result from this analysis should seek to enhance Downtown Cleveland's prominence as the region's main employment center."

"The region needs to be vibrant and connected," said Councilman Kelley, who favors commuter rail. "These goals would be served by regional commuter rail. While I would like everyone in the region to live in the city of Cleveland, it's very important that people at least work in the city of Cleveland."

"What the resolution is calling for is a better stewardship of precious resources," added Councilman Cimperman, whose ward includes downtown Cleveland. He also chairs council's Planning Committee. "Whether it's laying less asphalt or connecting more people to our venues, to me this is about the future."

"We need to be creating alternative methods of transportation that won't be increasing our carbon emissions," said Councilman Zone, chair of council's Public Utilities Committee. "Adding commuter rail is a win-win situation. It will help Cleveland be a more desirable place to live."

The use of federal planning funds for the West Shore Corridor was authorized by the most recent federal surface transportation law, passed in 2005. Then-Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-Lorain) worked to ensure the authorization was included in the surface transportation law.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

October 6, 2006: Cleveand Planning Commission Summary

Ok, I've been putting this off for a while. I will now attempt to get caught up on the Planning Commission summaries. Not all of them will be as detailed as others since I did not go to all of them (school, family, etc.), but I do have most of the agendas.
Let the amusement begin.

Called to order: 9:10 AM



ZONING (all approved)

1.Ordinance No. 1549-06: Changes the Use Districts of parcels bounded by Deise Avenue, Maxwell Avenue, Aspinwall Avenue, East 140th Street and including portions of Cobalt Avenue and Saranac Road from Semi-Industry and General Industry to Residence Industry. Tabled on September 15, 2006.

The change will better reflect the current land uses and prevent inappropriate uses (heavy industry, outdoor storage, hours of operation) mixed in with the residential fabric.

2.Ordinance to be introduced XXX1-06: To change the Use District of a parcel of land on the south side of Franklin Avenue from General Industry District to Multi-Family Residential District.

This property is located at 8001 Franklin Avenue near the Painters Loft and is currently vacant. A representative from Ryser Properties was present to introduce plans for 15 units (2 and 3 story) of housing. The approval of this zoning change will them to submit an application to Clean Land Ohio for remediation funds. Jeff Ramsey from Detroit/Shoreway was present on behalf of Councilman Zone who is in favor of the change.

3.Ordinance to be introduced XXX2-06: To change the Use District of a parcel of land on the south side of South Marginal Avenue near East 55 th Street from a General Industry District to a General Retail District.

This was in regards to the former Howard Johnson hotel south of the East Shoreway. The new owner anticipates building luxury condos with assistance from Marous Brothers. They would use the existing building and add balconies to each of the proposed 7o units. They are still in discussion on the feasibility of adding a restaurant to the ground floor. The owners, Bapaz Real Estate, originate from New York and have had successful developments there. The presented a letter from Councilwoman Pierce-Scott in support of this project. (Read Crain's Cleveland article here.)


1.Ordinance No. 1278-06: Declaring the property located at 1570 East 105th Street blighted premises and authorizing the Director of Community Development to acquire the blighted premises and sell the premises to FEDCO Services, LLC.

Part of the Veterans Administration expansion project. Appraised at $30,000. Construction to Begin late 2007 - early 2008.

2.Ordinance No. 1364-06: Declaring the property located at 3509 East 120th Street blighted premises and authorizing the Director of Community Development to acquire the blighted premises and sell the premises to KidsHealth 2020.

Will assist residents from birth to age 25 in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood.

3.Ordinance No. 1446-06: Authorizing the acquisition of certain easement interests along East 115th Street and Euclid Avenue as part of the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project.

4.Ordinance No. 1449-06: Authorizing a permit to the United States General Services Administration to encroach into the public right-of-way at the Anthony Celebrezze Federal Office Building located on Lakeside Avenue and East 9th Street by installing, using, and maintaining Federally mandated security devices for “stand off” and “crash” protection of the facility.

5.Resolution No. 1468-06: Declaring the intent to vacate a portion of West Lakeside Ave. N.W.

6.Ordinance No. 1470-06: Relating to restrictions on location of stables, poultry enclosures and other enclosures.

7.Ordinance No. 1548-06: Authorizing the lease of certain property to Community United Head Start and Day Care, Inc. for a term of one year, with five one year options to renew, at the Earle B. Turner Recreation Center located at 11300 Miles Avenue, for the purpose of operating a day care.

8.Ordinance No. 1576-06: Authorizing the Director of Public Utilities to apply for and accept grants from various entities to implement the Security Improvement Project; authorizing the Director to apply for and accept grants from the Ohio Emergency Management Agency for security improvements to the Baldwin and Crown Water Treatment Plants in conjunction with the Security Improvement Project.

9.Ordinance No. 1577-06: Authorizing the sell of City-owned property no longer needed for public use located at the east corner of Huron Rd. and East 4 th Street to System Property Development Company, Inc. and authorizing the Director of Community Development to cause payment to System Parking Development Co., Inc.


1.Ordinance No. 1439-06: Authorizing a Lease Agreement with Business Aircraft Center for office space at Cleveland Burke Control, for the period of one year with a one year option to renew.

SUMMARY CALENDAR (all approved)

1. Ordinance No. 1960-05: Authorizes the sale of property as part of the Land Use Reutilization Program located on Superior Avenue to Louis Lee.
2.Ordinance No. 1462-06: Authorizes the sale of property as part of the Land Use Reutilization Program located on East 88th street to Jeannette Relaford.
3.Resolution No. 1468-06: Refers to the vacating of a portion of West Lakeside N.W.
4.Resolution No. 1578-06: Refers to the vacating of a portion of Stuber Court N.E.
5. Ordinance No. 1583-06: Authorizes the application to the One Public Works Integrating Committee for state funding for the Cornell Road Bridge, Woodland Avenue/Kinsman Road, East 30th Street, and Bellaire Road rehabilitation Phase II Projects.
6. Ordinance NO. 1585-06: Changes the name of East 117th Street between Durant and Whitmore to Leonard B. Jackson street.

Broadway BRD (approved)

1. BC 2006-008: 6401 Broadway Avenue - Demolition request for former mechanics Auto Care building.

This provide access to the Rails to Trails project that is behind the proposed demolition. the land will be graded and seeded.

2. E185 2006-003: 972 East 185th Street - Demolition of existing garage and construction of freestanding bank building.

LOT SPLIT (approved)

4318 Orchard Avenue, Owner-Occupant Eugene Pallas


The West Shoreway Project Update.