Will the Plain Dealer ask the right questions?

Submitted by Lee Batdorff on Tue, 05/04/2010 - 11:37.

The following was sent as a an email message to many editors and reporters at the Plain Dealer and public relations executives at the American Public Transportation Association. You can find a list of recipients at the end of the this article.

The American Public Transportation Association is holding a national conference in Cleveland at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel through May 5th. Attendees at this conference will be touring the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's new Health Line.

Cleveland's Health Line is one of the few, if only, Bus Rapid Transit lines in the United States. This innovative transit line affords travel by public transit that is faster than automobile between downtown Cleveland and University Circle. This new $200 million facility affords much opportunity for Transit Oriented Design.

Tremendous potential for E. 56th Street RTA Health Line station poised to be squandered

There may be no area along the Health Line better posed for Transit Oriented Design than the 16-or-so shovel-ready acres around the E. 56th Street Health Line station platforms. Instead of waiting for commercial interests to develop this land, (it is a short ride on the Health Line to the medical research juggernauts Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals), in the summer of 2009 the City of Cleveland chose to place a regional state psychiatric hospital to the north of the E. 56th Street Station.

Later in 2009 the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority sold land it owned during the construction of the  Health Line to the City of Cleveland. For what? According to the first Cleveland Plain Dealer story linked below, a parking lot to service the proposed hospital across the street. The intended destination of the people parking here is not the Health Line. Use of land in this locale as a parking lot goes against the principles of Transit Oriented Design by removing a potential destination for transit riders.

The questions to ask: Is this  appropriate Transit Oriented Design being proposed through installing a parking lot to service a building on centrally located prime development land on Cleveland's new BRT line? What can $200 million in tax paid transit infrastructure can afford us in Midtown Cleveland?  What is good Transit Oriented Design that could occur at this location that would best benefit the people of the City of Cleveland and the metropolitan area?

Three Plain Dealer stories spell out the situation:

Cleveland buying Euclid Avenue land from RTA for state psychiatric hospital project
By Plain Dealer reporter Michelle Jarboe, The Plain Dealer, October 20, 2009

Noted land use expert calls the alarm over the psychiatric hospital:

Euclid Ave. was primed for economic growth -- until City Hall got involved
By Tom Bier, (the version of this article linked to gives an incorrect by-line). Bier is an executive in residence at the Center for Housing Research and Policy at the Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University.  The Plain Dealer, July 26, 2009

More Plain Dealer coverage of the proposed psychiatric hospital proposal:

Dueling views on Cleveland City Hall's support of the proposed Midtown psychiatric hospital
By Plain Dealer reporter Henry Gomez, The Plain Dealer, August 04, 2009

American Public Transit Association
Virginia Miller
Senior Manager – Media Relations, Phone: (202) 496-4816, Email: vmiller at apta.com

Mantill Williams
Director – Advocacy Communications, Phone: (202) 496-4869, Email: mwilliams at apta.com

The Plain Dealer
Terrance C. Z. Egger
Susan Goldberg
Randy Roguski
Elizabeth Sullivan
Elizabeth McIntyre
Elizabeth McIntyre
Debra Adams Simmons
Debbie Van Tassel
Daryl Kannberg

Chris Ball
Tom Breckinridge
Henry Gomez
Joe Guillen
John Horton
Michelle Jarboe
Steven Litt
Michael McIntyre

( categories: )

Here is the chance of the Plain Dealer asking good questions

From a former member of the old North East Ohio Sierra Club Urban Sprawl Committee who now lives elsewhere:

Based on my memories of the Plain Dealer-

To dream the ...


From Plain Dealer reporter Michelle Jarboe

Hi Lee -

I write about real estate and development for the Plain Dealer, and I wrote one of the stories that you referenced in your letter. I have written several other stories about development in Midtown, in general, and the hospital project, in particular.

Just for reference, here is the first story that the Plain Dealer published regarding discussions about several projects, including the hospital, in the Midtown neighborhood: http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2009/06/competing_developmen...

I received your e-mail yesterday and thought I should hop on here to let you know that the hospital project has not fallen off our radar. It's one of many projects in Midtown that I'm keeping tabs on, and the questions you raise about how parking will fit into the development, how the project will relate to the Euclid transit line and how the hospital will fit into Midtown's zoning are important ones. Those are issues that we have asked about before, and they're issues we will continue to examine as more information about the project becomes available.

At this point, the state has not publicly revealed site plans or designs for the project. So we don't know how the regional psychiatric facility will occupy the property, or what it will look like. I'm anxiously waiting to see those plans, which I'm sure we will write about.

I have been told by planning and development officials that the state's plans for the project will go through a public review process. Typically, such a process involves design review and review by the city's planning commission. Additional approvals might be necessary if the hospital does not mesh with Midtown's zoning code, which is designed to encourage dense, mixed-use development.

Feel free to call me anytime if you want to talk more about the project. You can reach me directly at 216-999-4830.


Will the PD ask appropriate questions of transit experts?

Thank you for taking the time to comment to this posting about the proposed mental hospital for Midtown Cleveland. What do transit experts think of the plan to build parking in Midtown instead of destinations for transit riders? Does the Plain Dealer plan on pursuing expert opinion about Cleveland and the Regional Transit Authority's proposal to build automobile parking at the E. 56th Street BRT stop instead of pedestrian oriented destinations?


From Michelle Jarboe at the Plain Dealer

Hi Lee -

The folks I've talked to in the development and design community largely have accepted this project -- and some are very enthusiastic about the hospital because of the jobs it will create and the traffic those employees will provide for other businesses in the area. But the Midtown stakeholders and planners I've talked to also are keenly interested in what the facility will look like and how the layout and design will -- or will not -- fit into the neighborhood.

Public transportation clearly is important to this project. But a hospital of this size also needs to include parking, for employees who can't or don't take the bus and for families and visitors coming to see patients. We don't know for sure -- having seen no plans for the project -- where that parking will end up. Yes, that use has been suggested for the former RTA property. But that was a suggestion, not a certainty.

Plans change. Developer Fred Geis and his partners, for example, have been listening to feedback about the design for the proposed Euclid Tech Center project a few blocks away and have been playing with the layout and look of the project to ensure that it can compete with suburban space and still fit into the transit-focused, densely built corridor that groups like MidTown Cleveland Inc. envision.

When the state's plans become available, the Plain Dealer certainly will talk to community stakeholders and experts about the proposed design and layout of the facility, including the parking.


Healthline Route

Thank you for posting Lee and thank you to Michelle Jarboe for responding--your article was pointed and informative.  Predictably, the plain facts are being ignored.  This is a colossal waste of our tax dollar.  We used federal dollars to encourage public transportation, not more cars and parking lots.

The siting of the mental health facility along the route is institutional insanity--feeding a one-time windfall for an architect/construction firm, capitalizing on the only game in town these days--which is to chase federal and state dollars for projects.  This project will not result in job creation--it will pull existing employees and their dollars spent from the Metrohealth facility and the Sagamore Hills facility. It will also destroy any hopes the technology center originally intended for the site.

If the hospital takes the Midtown site, the community will need to cobble together a comparable property elsewhere, Haviland said. Though the Euclid corridor is peppered with vacant land and dilapidated buildings, there are few areas where enough property could be assembled and cleaned up for a technology park or other, large-scale development.

Always the SOS in NEO--use other people's money to make money and then run like hell.

Government destruction of potential property values

The apparent lack of transit oriented design and land use is a relatively minor problem of the psychiatric hospital proposal.

The reason I brought it up now is because many transit experts are in town for a conference through May 5th (today). What do transit experts think of even prospectivly considering land right next to a Bus Rapid Transit stop for parking, not for passengers to access the BRT, but for the hospital across the street? I'm advocating the Plain Dealer find out what members of the national transit community think of such an approach to "Transit Oriented Design." At this point I have little hope that the Plain Dealer will take such a comprehensive approach to covering this urban design situation.

A much bigger issue is the destruction of potential property values that this proposal will have, if build in Midtown. A state regional psychiatric hospital pays no property taxes. Such a facilities is not likely to attract commercial tax paying uses to the area nearby. (If the hospital is built, the largest shovel-ready property along Euclid Avenue will be removed from commercial development.)

About $200 million in tax dollars was invested to make Euclid Avenue a transit cooridor offering realtively high speed public transit through Midtown making the area a prime commercial development area.

After this investment and poised that area for commercial development, the state of Ohio, with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson doing their bidding, plans to pump $87 million in tax dollars into a proposal that will squander the potential this area has for commercial land use made possible by the $200 transit investment.

Here is a case of tax dollars invested to destroy the value of tax dollars previously invested. If this facilities is built at E. 56th Street and Euclid Avenue, the prospect that property values increasing and property taxes collected from this land to increase will be destroyed.

Wifi and Digital Corridor

  The Euclid Corridor project was also slated to be a wi-fi and digital corridor, when originally proposed.  Lev Gonick with One Cleveland (now One Community) heavily promoted the digital corridor. 

That promise died quickly when it became obvious that other interests wanted state and federal dollars to develop the Opportunity Corridor, instead.

Plain Dealer today

Please see above comments--this post shows the Plain Dealer is aware of this site and aware that the site raises issues that determine our community.

Will the Plain Dealer ask and answer the right questions??

State Hospital on Euclid-plans dumped

  From a Facebook discussion topic posed by City of Cleveland Planner Robert Brown:


The State of Ohio announced that it is dropping plans to build a large-scale mental health facility on a 14-acre site that the City of Cleveland had assembled and cleared for that purpose. The land is on the north side of Euclid Avenue, generally between East 59th & 61st.

If the State does not reverse its decision, this nearly "ready-to-build" 14-acre site presents an significant development opportunity for Midtown Cleveland -- complementing other new development and adaptive re-use projects that are underway and proposed along the new Euclid Corridor.

What do you think would be the best use of this 14-acre site, particularly with respect to advancing the vision of a mixed-use, vibrant Midtown district?

Really, really?! Wow-that's pretty big news.

Cleveland has spent more than $4.1 million on land assembly and environmental cleanup, only $398,000 of which was state money, Warren said. The city also budgeted nearly $1.4 million more for the project at the state's request.


(Sarcasm: Hey--I could use street repairs and basic services in my neighborhood--that 1.4 million would help us out...too bad we used 4.1 million on land assembly and environmental cleanup at TAXPAYER expense....but we're all good...we'll have that skate park in the flats and we can use our skateboards to get around !  Skateboarder capital of the world!!! Cowabunga! Dude!  And, ride our bikes through the snow on the new Carnegie Bridge bike lanes!!!...)


It's nice living in a rich city like Cleveland

It's nice living in a rich city like Cleveland - lots of money to spend on every little sustainabilly dalliance.

14 acres huh... is that big enough for a polo field? They need another one of them if any more Gentry are to move to town! And bridle trails throughout the city... must have new bridle trails.

This will create jobs for people who shovel shit... the CDCs are full of them so it's a very good thing.

Disrupt ITd

The "HAPPINESS SQUAD" is coming .......

to "SAVE US"....don't be so negative.....Be positive...we can SMILE...as we walk and ride our bikes, through the slush and ice chunks...

I brought Rebecca Ryan here 6 years ago to make people happy

I invited Rebecca Ryan (Next Generation Consulting) here some 6 years ago (from Madison, WI... where real humanism thrives... as you see these days) to bring people together in search of pathways to community happiness - a bunch of shriveled up 70-something homophobic white millionaires (aka Fund For Our Economic Future) and their Green Youth killed our diverse, open-minded little Gen-X revolution, but quick... they want group think, which is the opposite of happiness.

She did however help move Akron forward, and most people seem to agree that is a preferred community, these days.

I'll never forget the shame of seeing our community leaders betray such a wonderful and inspirational global leader - I've been ashamed of Cleveland ever since.

Thank Brad Whitehead for fucking this up - thank Ed Hauser for keeping the truth alive...

Cleveland dicktators understand social brainwashing, from their historical Nazi kinda intellect, but that only seems to work on the deeply toxified and their brainwashers.

More money wasted on the perceived Fatherland rather than helping Mother Nature and her people... pure evil.

I sure miss David Reed - he got it... but he was from another country... and when he got fed up with the bullshit here, he didn't go back to England... he moved his famly to Madison, Wisconsin... he MOVED TO Rebecca's world.

Disrupt IT

Polo field

  That's a good one, Norm.  I will post that to the planning site on FB and it will undoubtably gain traction--sheesh.