Happy New Year, Envisioning Progress in 2006

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 01/02/2006 - 04:07.

I hope you are happy, as we begin 2006.

Over the past many years, the region has redefined and reinvented itself - now is a fair time to expect progress, and I believe we shall see that on many fronts, in 2006.

Some fronts of personal interest where I plan to help drive progress include:

  • Eradication of lead poisoning by 2010
  • Bridging digital divide
  • Broadening adoption of Free Open Source Software
  • Developing a progressive IT workforce
  • Making NEO a world leader in Virtual Community development

What are some things you are working on that you'd like to share - perhaps interest the support of others...?

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Great Goals for 2006

Those are some fantastic goals for the new year. We talk about a lot of stuff here, but topics like lead poisoning are really serious and need to be addressed (get educated, people: we're raising generations of kids in this city that are going to be challenged far  beyond their economic conditions by problems like lead poisoning).

That said, I would also like to see a more subtler goal make some progress this year: aesthetic. We are building a very ugly world solely for the sake of practicality and economics.  We go to gigantic, grey-painted box-stores with only a faint notion that it is an ugly place. Look around a little, form some opinions on what is really beautiful in this world and WHY.  We are visceral people and the physical conditions we surround ourselves in affect our psychological condition. Over the long-term, people don't want to linger in places that are ugly. This aesthetic applies to everything: from architecture to web design. Think about it.


The NEO Aesthetic

It's true we often talk about aesthetics as an industry but rarely about the aesthetics of our region.

Our strongest regional aesthetic is natural beauty - four full-blown seasons with splendor... significant waterways, mountains, valleys, woods, plains, farms, lush, flowerful... and many parks for enjoyment, and more to come. Our leadership tends to be sensitive to the value of nature and it is well protected. In 2006, there will be significant developments protecting area nature. They're even starting to work on the lake and rivers.

The historic architecture of our region is not well preserved, and little recent construction can be called aesthetically valuable - your bleak vision is accurate.

Our greatest architectural treasures - our "industrial American super-city legacy" - our dense, human-scale, well built turn of the 20th century urban neighborhoods - must be preserved (with lead poison eradication).

Otherwise, these older structures are a huge liability - once in decay they are very costly to rehab and they and their surroundings can become quite toxic with mold and lead. It doesn't take too much decay for a charming victorian to become dump, and a lovely neighborhood to become a slum. Now it is time to slowly reverse the process, and turn back time.

"New Urbanism" must grow - planning must become regionalized - public transportation must expand as a way of life - this is the year to make real progress making this a livable community to enjoy.

A great aesthetic opportunity for 2006 is to insure ODOT does a world-class job with the early stages of two huge projects - the I-90 bridge and trench redesign and  the Opportunity Corridor - see http://neobridge.net - best case, Cleveland gets a high-art bridge and entirely new look and flow of life for the future.

The other obvious aesthetic opportunity for the region is expand public celebration of art and culture, from creating more public art to holding more street fairs and celebrations.

The less obvious but most prominent place where the aesthetic value of our daily lives is determined is the Internet, where each organization and business in NEO becomes a representation of NEO. In 2006, we can do much to improve NEO's virtual aesthetic.

New Urbanism

New Urbanism is a great subject, one that really encompasses many of the topics mentioned in this very forum. New urbanists have been yelling at us for some time now that the economics of our ugly aesthetic (among other things) are driving us to a serious crisis. For anyone looking for some more information, look up James Kunstler - he's been farily prolific on the subject.

You're right though, there are many beautiful things here in the region. It's worth investing in them.  

Unfinished business

Thanks for asking- "What are some things you are working on that you'd like to share - perhaps interest the support of others...?"


Here are my Top-5 Civic Interest Goals, that I would like to follow up on this year, and hopefully get some support from fellow citizens and our public officials:

1) Get Mayor Jackson to revisit Mayor Campbell's "Cleveland Lakefront Plan" to build upon the positive aspects of the plan and remove the negative aspects.  The most hideous, costly and unnecessary part of that plan is relocating the Port Authority west of the river, to the breakwall and Whiskey Island.  Building a new 100-acre port facility for $600 million on the breakwall, a quarter-mile out on the lake, is unsightly and unacceptable.


2) Get ODOT to reconsider the Southern Bridge Alignment Alternative for the Innerbelt Bridge.  The bottom line is that this is one of the most costly  public projects in the history of Northeast Ohio.  The final alignment selection will have tremendous economic and aesthetic impact- either good or bad.  To make logical decisions, we need more information on both the North and South bridge alternatives.


3) Get public access to the historic Cleveland Harbor Coast Guard Station on Whiskey Island.  This Cleveland Landmark has nearly fallen into disrepair under the watch of the City of Cleveland.  With the city's help we need to get this landmark "minimally repaired" (properly boarded up) and get safe access on the pier to where our American Heritage River greets our Great Lake.


4) Find a home for the historic Hulett Ore Unloaders and resurrect them.  The Huletts are another Cleveland Landmark on Whiskey Island and Cleveland's Industrial icon. The Port Authority's agreement to store them for five years expired one year ago.   It commissioned an engineering study on the feasibility  of relocating the Huletts and how much they can get for scrap.


5) Get the Port Authority to reinstate its mandate to conduct public hearings for its future land use development plans.  In April 2001, the Port sucessfully lobbied the state legislators to repeal the sections of the Ohio Revised Code  that mandated public hearings for its future development plans.  In 2002, with pressure from local public officials, the Port added those sections to its local Rules and Regulations.   Last year, the Port Authority deleted those sections.  Once again, the Port is completely unaccountable to the taxpaying public that support them.  Now, the Port does not have to  explain any future development project or gather public comments.  That would include relocating to the west breakwall for $600 million.

Stay on them

It's nice to know, in 2006, Cleveland - NEO - has Ed Hauser fighting some right fights... taking care of unfinished business. More fundamentally, it is good Ed Hauser knows what he wants to fight for and he fights. If we all follow this example, we will live in a very different world.