CLEVELAND ACTIVIST CALLS $50 MILLION RENOVATED PUBLIC SQUARE – A BOGUS PROJECT AT CITY COUNCIL MEETING!

Submitted by Satinder P S Puri on Mon, 12/05/2016 - 01:35.

 
ACTIVIST (SATINDER P. S. PURI) (that’s me) CALLS $50 MILLION RENOVATED PUBLIC SQUARE – A BOGUS PROJECT IN COMMENTS MADE IN THE PUBLIC SESSION AT THE 3.25-HOUR LONG TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE MEETING HELD IN CITY HALL ON WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2016 TO DISCUSS THE OPENING OF THE CLOSED SUPERIOR AVENUE IN THE RENOVATED PUBLIC SQUARE A.K.A. JIMMY DIMORA PUBLIC SQUARE IN CLEVELAND, OHIO!

 

In prepared comments, I stated:
 
“The renovated Public Square a.k.a. Jimmy Dimora Public Square, because of the corruption involved -- is a $50 million bogus project”

 

"The bogus project is not good for Clevelanders nor RTA riders – but definitely good for downtown’s property owners who should expect an appreciation in their property values – supported by RTA riders – the poor, working class, senior citizens, disabled, and others who will get screwed with increased fares and reduced services.
This is called the “Cleveland Way”."

 

“Mayor Jackson has thrown RTA riders under the bus by not opening Superior Avenue
and not reimbursing RTA for the costs incurred:
1 million dollars annually for closing Ontario Street;
 
1.6 million dollars annually for closing Superior Avenue;
 
and $3.5 million dollars for full closure during the 16-month construction period.”

 
ISSUE:
The $50 million renovated Public Square a.k.a. Jimmy Dimora Public Square, because of the corruption involved – officially opened on June 30, 2016 with the north-south Ontario Street completely blocked and Superior Avenue narrowed from the previous 77 feet width (for 6-lanes of vehicular traffic) to 48 feet for only four lanes of RTA bus traffic.
Superior Avenue was scheduled to open on August 1, 2016 – but Mayor Jackson held up the opening.
On Tuesday, November 15, 2016 -- Mayor Jackson and Joe Calabrese (RTA CEO) announced, at a hastily called press conference, that Superior Avenue would remain closed in the best interests of everyone.
 
The joint decision was made without any public hearings.
This left some members of the Cleveland City Council incensed.
 
The hearing by the Transportation Committee, with public comments, was to see what can be done to open Superior Avenue.
 

 

 

TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE MEETING:
Over one-dozen members of the public spoke at the 3.25-hour long meeting.
Earlier the Transportation Committee heard from Joe Calabrese, RTA CEO; Ken Silliman, Mayor Frank Jackson's Chief of Staff James Muhic, Cleveland Police Traffic Commissioner; Ed Rybka, Cleveland's Chief of Regional Development; and Rybka; Robert Mavec, Traffic Engineering Commissioner;
Before the start of the Public Session – all officials who had testified left.
The Transportation Committee made no decision how to open Superior Avenue after the joint decision to close it was announced on November 15, 2016.

 

 

A HURDLE TO CROSS, REMAINS:
The FTA (Federal Transportation Administration) has invested millions in the transist system around Public Square. They have asked RTA to open Public Square or repay their investment of $12 million.

Mr. Silliman said the City and RTA would seek the approval of the FTA by saying that the RTA will improve the efficiency of their system with improved traffic signaling.

We will have to wait and see if Superior Avenue will ever open.

 

 

COMMENTS MADE AT MEETING IN PUBLIC SESSION:
Good Morning!

My name is Satinder P. S. Puri.

I am a community activist, live on Cleveland’ west side in Councilman Kazy’s ward 16 and love riding the RTA.
 
The renovated Public Square a.k.a. Jimmy Dimora Public Square, because of the corruption involved -- -- is a 50 million dollar bogus project built with cheap materials and mostly paved with hard surfaces.
 
So far there have been nearly 900 hours of demonstrations which continue unabated.
 
There was also a ten-day long hunger strike to protest the corruption.
 
There was nothing wrong with the historic 218-year old Public Square that a little rehabilitation could not fix.
 
The renovated Public Square reflects the flawed vision of Mayor Jackson who said: “I want to see one big square”.
 
According to the Traffic Consultant’s Report the Mayor’s vision was not workable.
 
So his honor – instead of one big square had to settle for two rectangles – the current configuration.
 
Well, the revised vision was also unworkable because of penalties to the RTA.
 
Mayor Jackson was aware of the penalties – but went ahead with the project anyway.
 
Mass deception was used to promote the bogus project.
Mayor Jackson never responded to ten e-mails and two certified letters raising questions about the bogus project.
 
The bogus project is not good for Clevelanders nor RTA riders – but definitely good for downtown’s property owners who should expect an appreciation in their property values – supported by RTA riders – the poor, working class, senior citizens, disabled, and others who will get screwed with increased fares and reduced services.
 
This is called the “Cleveland Way”.
 
Now City Hall is expressing spurious safety concerns for children. If you walk downtown – you are likely to see more dogs than kids among the 14,000 residents.
 
On non-event days – I don’t count more than 50 to a hundred people even with the band playing.
At a given time -- there are more people outside Public Square than inside – totally oblivious of this so-called masterpiece in urban park design.
 
The day after RNC left – I was the lone protestor in an almost abandoned Public Square.
 
 
Mayor Jackson has thrown RTA riders under the bus by not opening Superior Avenue and not reimbursing RTA for the costs incurred:
1 million dollars annually for closing Ontario Street;
1.6 million dollars annually for closing Superior Avenue;
 
and $3.5 million dollars for full closure during the 16-month construction period.
 
 
Mr. Chairman -- now that we have a renovated Public Square – and the RNC was here – this summer -- all Cleveland needs to make it big time --- is a Trump Tower.
 
I am submitting a document for the record.
 
Thank you for your attention.
 
 
FULL 8-PAGE DOCUMENT WITH PHOTOGRAPHS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
 
Subject: MAYOR JACKSON -- OPEN SUPERIOR AVENUE & REIMBURSE RTA FOR COSTS INCURRED DURING RENOVATION OF PUBLIC SQUARE & AFTER OFFICIAL OPENING!
 
 
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Good Morning!
My name is Satinder P. S. Puri.
 
 
I am a senior citizen, a community activist, a volunteer teacher, and a retired Structural Engineer. I live on the west side of Cleveland in Councilman Kazy’s ward 16 and love riding the RTA.
 
 
 
 
Jimmy Dimora Public Square: The renovated Public Square a.k.a. Jimmy Dimora Public Square, because of the corruption involved -- -- is a $50 million bogus project built with cheap materials and mostly paved with hard surfaces.

 

 

 
Nothing wrong with Historic 218-year old Public Square: There was nothing wrong with the historic 218-year old Public Square (opened in 1796 in the four-quadrant configuration and that under went a senseless destruction starting in March 2015) that a little rehabilitation could not fix. There was no shortage of grass, flowers, elegant trees, granite benches, a fountain, a waterfall, and also a splash pool. Except for a brief ten-year period in the mid 1800’s when the Square was unified – Public Square flourished in the four-quadrant configuration.



 
2
 
Flawed Vision: The renovated Public Square reflects the flawed vision of Mayor Jackson who in a 2011 interview said: “I want to see one big square”. According to the Traffic Consultant’s Report of 2012 the Mayor’s vision was not workable and his honor – instead of one big square had to settle for two rectangles – little knowing that the revised vision was not a workable one either because of penalties to the RTA.
Mayor Jackson was aware of the penalties to the RTA – but went ahead with the project anyway – the current two rectangle configuration. This is not how we should build public projects – but this is Cleveland, Ohio – where the needs of the less privileged can be easily trampled.
 
Under the Bus: Mayor Jackson has thrown RTA riders under the bus by not opening Superior Avenue and not reimbursing RTA for the costs incurred: $1 million annually for closing Ontario Street; $1.6 million annually for closing Superior Avenue; and $3,5 million for full closure during the 16-month construction period.

 
 
Earlier, RTA threw their riders under the bus by agreeing to this bogus project.


 

3
Mass deception (see Appendix) was used in the media to promote the bogus project. The bogus project is not good for Clevelanders nor RTA riders – but definitely good for downtown’s property owners who should expect an appreciation in their property values – supported by RTA riders – the poor, working class, senior citizens, disabled, and others who will get screwed with increased fares and reduced services. This is called the “Cleveland Way”.
While the rich and powerful in downtown will benefit tremendously -- the rest of Clevelanders will get shortchanged. With billions invested downtown – the poverty rate climbed from 31 to 37%.
 
 
On non-event days – I don’t count more than 50 to a hundred people even with the band playing.
 
At a given time -- there are more people outside Public Square than inside – totally oblivious of this so-called masterpiece in urban park design.
 
 
Our adjoining Malls are elegant green spaces that remain abandoned despite some 14,000 or so residents in downtown. If there you are there on a clear day you can even see Canada.
E-mail to Mayor Jackson: On August 14, 2016, I urged Mayor Jackson via e-mail to open Superior Avenue immediately to RTA bus traffic and reimburse the RTA for the following estimated costs as per the Traffic Consultant’s Report.
 
$3.5 million for 16-month construction period.
 
$1 million (annually) for closing Ontario Street permanently.
$4,384 for every day Superior Avenue was closed after the official opening on June 30,

 
Similar requests were made at the Cuyahoga County Council meetings of August 9 and September 13, 2016. Still waiting for a response from his honor.




4
 
Happy Marriage between Church and State: Despite ten e-mails and two certified letters to Mayor Jackson (see Appendix) -- there was no response to requests for information and answers to questions about the Public Square Project.
I also sought what one could call close (to) divine intervention through the well-connected Senior Pastor of Old Stone Church with two e-mails and a certified letter (see Appendix) – again there was no response. The Senior Pastor happens to live in the a building facing the renovated Public Square and will benefit, as will his flock, from any rise in real estate values at the expense of the poor and working class people who ride the RTA and who will subsidize the bogus project with increased fares and reduced services.
 
Safety Concerns: Now City Hall is expressing spurious safety concerns for children in support of their bogus project. If you walk downtown – you are likely to see more dogs than kids among the 14,000 residents.
 
 
Ride the RTA – Go Browns, send a message to Mayor Jackson, and educate the Riders!
On an RTA #22 bus returning from downtown from 6.5-hour demonstration on a hot and humid morning and afternoon of September 18, 2016.
 
In addition to the signs which are being read by RTA riders, the riders are also receiving a copy of the campaign flyer and a copy of the article by Michael K. McIntyre that appeared in the Sunday (September 11, 2016) addition of The Plain Dealer: “Perennial Protester is still fighting City Hall”.
 


5
Ride the RTA – send a message to Mayor Jackson, educate the riders, and Go Tribe:
On an RTA #22 bus going downtown for a 4-hour demonstration on a hot and humid afternoon of September 23, 2016.
 
In addition to the signs which are being read by RTA riders, the riders are also receiving a copy of the campaign flyer and a copy of the article by Michael K. McIntyre that appeared in the Sunday (September 11, 2016) addition of The Plain Dealer: “Perennial Protester is still fighting City Hall”.
 
 




Campaign: So far, since August 2014, there have been nearly 900 hours of demonstrations – first with the LEAVE PUBLIC SQUARE ALONE signs and now with WELCOME JIMMY DIMORA PUBLIC SQUARE signs. This is the equivalent of walking over 2,500 miles carrying a sign.


The demonstrations continue unabated with the goal of educating the public about corruption in the project. There was a ten-day long hunger strike to protest the corruption. Details of the campaign can be found on my blog at REALNEO:http://realneo.us/blogs/satinder-p-s-puri
6
 
Open Superior Avenue and compensate the RTA:
 
I again urge Mayor Jackson to open Superior Avenue and compensate the RTA for the construction costs, the cost for closing Ontario Street permanently, and the cost for not opening Superior Avenue since June 30, 2016.


MAYOR JACKSON IS THROWING RTA RIDERS UNDER THE BUS!


Where is RTA going to get the money to support the rich and powerful?


Now that we have Jimmy Dimora Public Square – and the RNC was here this summer --
all that Cleveland needs to make it big time is a Trump Tower.
 
I am submitting a document for the record.
Thank you.
 
 
Satinder P. S. Puri
13217 Cooley Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio: 44111
Retd. Structural Engineer, Community Volunteer at preK-8 Riverside School
Facebook Group: ABC: All About Cleveland, Ohio
Blog at REALNEO e-mail: spspuri9 [at] sbcglobal [dot] net


APPENDIX


Mayor Jackson:
No Response was received from Mayor Jackson from the following correspondence:
 
E-mails dated August 24, 2014, September 14, 2014, October 19, 2014, November 28, 2014, December 29, 2014, February 9, 2015, February 15, 2015, February 20, 2015,
February 25, 2015, and March 8, 2015, August 14, 2016.
Certified letters dated 12-30-14 and 03-02-15.
 


Old Stone Church:
No Response was received from the Senior Pastor of Old Stone Church requesting his help in obtaining the Environmental Impact Statement.
 
E-mails dated February 25, 2015 and March 2, 2015.
 
Certified letter dated 03-12-15.


7
MASS DECEPTION USED TO PROMOTE RENOVATED PUBLIC SQUARE A.K.A. JIMMYDIMORA PUBLIC SQUARE!
The attached rendering from the office of James Corner Field Operations was shown ad infinitum by the media and the promoters of the project during the promotion of the renovated Public Square – a geometric transformation from a 4-quadrant configuration to a two rectangle shape with a closed Ontario Street and a narrowed Superior Avenue (from 77 ft. 48 ft.) designed for four lanes of RTA bus traffic.
 
The rendering shows the narrowed Superior Avenue with eight bus stops – and only one bus as far as the eye can see conveying the impression of a romantic landscape in an urban setting – totally devoid from the actual reality.
 
The RTA makes 4,000 bus trips to Public Square every day. Assuming 50% of the trips along Superior Avenue – there would definitely be more than one bus.
 
As someone who actively opposed the bogus project (so far there have been nearly 900 hours of demonstrations first with the Leave Public Square Alone signs and now with the Welcome Jimmy Dimora Public Square signs) – this was a glaring case of mass deception.
 
People looking at the rendering were exclaiming: WOW! AWESOME!
 
And in numerous appearances before the RTA Board and Cuyahoga County Council (available on YouTube) and in correspondence with Mayor Jackson (ten e-mails and two certified letters on which no response was received from his honor) – I stated many times: MASS DECEPTION!


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Contact the Federal Transit Administration Re: Public Sq

If you'd like to tell FTA how the city's machinations are impacting public transit riders and encourage FTA to insist that the city should pay back that money or open Superior to buses, contact FTA.

You can reach FTA's Administrator here: 202-366-4040
Or the Region 5 Office here:
200 West Adams Street, Suite 320
Chicago, Illinois 60606.
Telephone: (312) 353-2789 
Fax: (312) 886-0351
(Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.)