Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CLEAN IT UP CLEVELAND-NORTH EAST OHIO!

LITTER, TRASH, ILLEGAL DUMPING ISSUES NEED TO BE COVERED MORE BY THE LOCAL PAPERS---AND THE CITY NEEDS TO BE ASSERTIVE IN ADDRESSING AND BEING PRO-ACTIVE ABOUT SOLVING THE PROBLEM.



I have a story idea that needs attention drawn to it:


How about the litter/trash/debris problem all over all the corridors into the city on the highways. In ditches, under embankments, bridges, waterways, along shoulders, in medians, and the list could go on. This cost Ohio 3 to 4 million last year to clean up---mostly because people have still not learned what a trash/recycling can is for. Should have learned that 38 years ago when the Indian cried on the commercial.

If we have not even learned how the above situation leads to a declining quality of life, property value, bad images, etc. then its hopeless. The burning river cast a grim shadow on our city in the past---we know the struggle it has been to take years to shed this image, as much of it still exists---so why are we inviting, and leaving go unabated, yet another legacy of community and environmental abuse that will secure another 50 plus years of Cleveland bad mouthing?

C'mon people, pitch in and get with it! C'mon PD...ADDRESS this issue and offer solutions. All those who participate in clean-ups once a year is not enough. To make this problem better, we need to make keeping after it a lifestyle--and maybe start reminding people that dumping/littering in OHIO is illegal--and Cleveland is not exempt. While the problem is pervasive, can we spare the complacent comments like "Weeelll.. its everywhere" and at least do OUR part to clean up our corner of the state?

This problem is among the first things people will notice when coming into our region/city... and it casts a strong message about where the civic pride has gone and a lack of respect for the environment as well--at a time when we should darn well know better to at least be able to curb this very preventable problem. It is quite embarrassing.

Is this the image we want to project of ourselves to all who come here---especially during the Rock Hall inductions? It is bad enough we have to continually clean up after people in neighborhoods who find it convenient to pull up along a curb and dump their McDonald's trash onto someone’s tree strip, let alone all the crap that does not adequately get cleaned up on the main streams into the city.

Just because times are tough, just because there is poverty, and just because people may be stupid......does not mean we have to look as though we play the part perfectly; being slobs! Hey Cleveland... Get this.. CIVIC PRIDE is FREE!!! Doesn't cost a DIME to embrace it and start using it, no matter what walk of life you come from---but it costs all of us millions when we DON'T exercise this pride!

Adopting such pride again means we foster a populous that will not allow the kinds of things to happen that end up tearing down a city and region in the first place; the kinds of things people spend all day winging about on these posts, but offer to do NOTHING about, and instead become a part of the problem by telling everyone how they cannot wait to take the next train out of here!

Please cover the trash/litter, illegal dumping issues, PD.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

POSSIBLE FUTURE IDEAS FOR OLDER URBAN DOWNTOWN RETAIL DISTRICTS

Several years ago, I had an idea take shape in my mind that recognized a great possible use for struggling historic downtown retail centers in larger metro-areas. In particular, I was thinking of the Cleveland/Akron/Youngstown/Warren metro-region. The idea, was to revert these original urban ‘cores of the core’ to fully functional neighborhoods-- -as what was their original purpose at the time of their infancy.

In a world of so much oil and automobile-dependency ---AND communities designed around the needs of the four wheels rather than our own two legs as pedestrians----and a retail scene that has become homogenized with the big box chains coast to coast, I thought it would be refreshing to return to some of the roots and purposes of the old downtowns.

Creating a walkable urban landscape that offered a community scene of real local and independent retail establishments and real human connections to those who bring us life’s daily needs not offered in the auto dependent suburbs was my vision. I felt that in order to re-connect those who have become disconnected from such scenes due to many factors---but one in particular; the 50 plus years of the advent of the automobile which helped contribute to outward migration from the urban core---the old town centers must offer a unique blend of local and independent retail and food establishments that have all but vanished.

These offerings could even include a unique blend of higher end retailers, some national names---but higher quality ones. In order to mix the independent character of the local venues which would offer what the national venues could not, or did not want to offer…it could be a successful balance to offer from some high end national venues what the locals did not offer--or cared to. I though this would result in a unique balance that would not result in the usual scenario of the big box stores undermining all the local/independently owned businesses in the economy.

By a downtown trying to attract, for example, the high end national factory outlet stores that could co-exist with all the other independent appeal of a downtown, we could achieve the perfect balance. Such an effort to lure the urban activity back to the urban hub, would be much more sustainable than clearing 60 acres of woods or wetlands for yet another clone zone retail center or typical outlet mall that sucks life away from the urban core. What this scene would offer if implemented in Cleveland is something for everyone.

A few selling points to draw people in from everywhere would be: 1. Easy and direct highway access from far away visitors in the metro area looking for a real historic downtown larger city retail experience with cheap parking in close by parking decks. 2. Easy walking access for those living in or near downtown who do not wish to drive a car everywhere. 3.Essy public transit access. 4. A blend of businesses and entertainment venues all in an historic setting offered nowhere else. These and many other factors help with the appeal of why such a place would be attractive to patrons . I want to add that a feeling of cleanliness and safety are key factors.

It appears as though all of the ideas I have mentioned above are share as well by many others. In this Plain Dealer On-line article, you can read more about this concept in detail Here is the link:

http://blog.cleveland.com/business/2009/03/clevelands_downtown_considered.html#preview




I like this idea. I have actually suggested this years ago in a letter to the Warren, Ohio mayor on a downscaled version--to have a higher end factory outlet mix. Interesting to see this just might happen in downtown Cleveland, specifically. BUT, I will also say again…balance is the key. The right mixture needs to be sought. This kind plan SHOULD NOT undermine the unique local/independent business scene already downtown, that will give it a distinction and character all its own.

If each type of businesses can offer something the other does not have as I mentioned early in this article, there should not be the problem of making downtown into just another retail clone zone. So in conclusion , I am in support of the plan in the article if carefully planned and consideration is given to unique individual character that is our own. There is really little construction needed other than renovations inside some areas.

All that really needs to be done is negotiation with the retailers. Looks as though the though to making Warren’s core a functional diverse non-auto dependent neighborhood with a select higher end unique factory outlet appeal ---at least was embraced by someone somewhere! It would be better than sprawl, and better than seeing the core struggle. The historic core, afterall, is a draw in itself. Tell me? When was the last time you planned a trip somewhere and had your activities centered around the experience of the Wal-Mart parking lot?

Let me know what you think!

Photo: Old Lower Euclid Avenue retail corridor

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Please Ohio, Once Again---Just Say NO To The Gaming Industry Hype!

Here is my rather redundant editorial on the latest gaming proposal idea!

Ohio... Psssst.. Listen up.. Please STOP being sold a bill of garbage that casinos are the be all end all cure for economic woes. Just because many surrounding states bought on to this bandwagon, does not mean we have to follow the leader and do a “monkey see monkey do.” Nor does it mean they're right and we're wrong.

We should not be trying to build an economy around this sort of thing.... Something that simply has no accountability where the money goes. If people read closely through the proposed issues (as in the past you will find that there is NO guarantee we'd make anything from these entities. Too many loop holes; too many empty promises. We should not be building an economy around entities that help to produce and foster bad and self destructive habits---that in the long run, could be a cost burden on the state, Example: bankruptcies, etc. I can see it now, already economically depressed.....what a time for gaming promoters to pitch their goods! (especially when their own industry is in decline!) People gamble and drink when depressed...and we see people peeing away their government assistance checks on gaming! This will NOT attract high end gaming enthusiasts as Vegas. We will NOT be the gaming destination place like Vegas. Gaming promoters are in business for one thing: PROFIT! NOT charity to states! Please see past the smoke and mirrors, Ohio.

Even if proposed right... I am still not sold on this idea. If we want to help our economy, we'd be trying to lure and promote high tech jobs and workforces that perhaps can have our region being the hot pit for cutting edge green technologies, such as windmill manufacturing, alternative fuels, green vehicles, solar panels, recycled product manufacturing, etc. Such would display a contrast and total change from our industrial polluting past manufacturing base. The jobs that could result in a green economy.... could help foster a better populous in body, mind, and spirit by creating a healthier environment---and hence---this could help keep people living here long term and raise their family. Can you see how such an economy would be a contrast to what depending on the tobacco, booze, fast food, and gaming industry, helps to trickle down produce in the population?------A sad sap bunch of obese mental numb heads who are so down and out and misinformed, that somehow they become deluded into thinking gaming will cure everything from world hunger to cancer! Absolutely pathetic if this is the best this entire region can do for economic re-development.


Let me reiterate…. How about Cleveland and Ohio in general, being a world leader in green or other future technologies? For every product produced, there is a job behind making it, marketing and selling it. It is time Cleveland and N.E. Ohio re-invent itself from the past economies---and placing a band-aid on the economic woes right now with the gambling hype is NOT going to sustain a long term future economy---nor should we build one around such that ultimately is a contributing factor in producing the mediocre mid-west 'Kielbasa Kid" mentality that is so pervasive throughout our region.

Every state, every city in this region having a casino, is the same as seeing the big box "Sprawl-Mart" stores all over the place---and what is so very special about that? Would such a scenario have people coming from all over to see just another casino? I don’t think so, and rather, I see the scene as a soon to be a dated one…so pase. Seen one seen 'em all! Please, Ohio, don't follow this extremely deceptive bandwagon and instead.... discover all the other alternatives to build the economy--and the entertainment sector, in particular, that really will lead to making Cleveland, N.E. Ohio a place people will want to live, work and play---and visit. Let all the others who thought this was the answer, look at Cleveland/Ohio and envy us for something we have that they do not---all because they were all too busy following the leader...to a road that leads to nowhere, nonetheless!

Lastly, I plead again…..Many think Ohio is a joke because they have voted the gaming down so many times. Ohio is only a joke if many of you posters actually believe this is going to salvage the economy...and are duped into thinking this is the only thing we can do to make the city/state shine and be attractive for the future. When people are desperate, they'll latch onto anything that sounds promising with little question, as long as the hype is all the tootie fruttie nonsense people want to hear. The casino hype is a classic example of what I am talking about. Why do you think promoters hit this whole part of the country hard in the first place? It is easy to lure the hungry and desperate. Please tell me you're not this desperate Ohio, that you will allow anything at any cost set up shop in your state, as long as the promoters spew all the right 'jobs and taxes' B.S.