PUBLIC SQUARE LOW ON CLEVELAND'S NEED LIST

Submitted by Roldo on Sun, 12/20/2009 - 13:26.

Steve Litt is back on the front page today promoting another supposed uplift for Cleveland’s despondent condition: this time another redo of Public Square.

 

He writes: “City planners have dreamed for decades of doing something to resolve the conflict between vehicles and people in the square and to restore the sense of the town commons implied in the 1796 street plan that gave downtown its form.”

 

I wish he’d name the city planners doing this dreaming.

I hate to break it to Steve but Cleveland even by 1815 was a village and hit a population of 500 only by 1824. Maybe these people, who likely knew most of each other, (and even lived in the city) could amble about a public square and find out the latest news and gossip. A true community public square. What Sunday fun!

 

But now we have the Plain Dealer, television news and something called an internet. They give us the gossip, insipid as it may be.

 

Really this another downtown plan by the same downtown interests as always. Their real interest is keeping certain people off the public square: Homeless people. Young black. Panhandlers. You know those people who interfere with the business of downtown interests.

 

It’s being pushed by two front groups of the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) – Parkworks and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

 

The money – always available for these Establishment projects – comes from The Alliance and the John P. Murphy Foundation. Both occupy space at Tower City whose front door is Public Square. The Murphy Foundation has a fair market value of $40 million.

 

One proposal suggests a 76 feet mound of dirt. Now isn’t that clever planning. That must have taken imagination.

 

This is another Greater Cleveland Partnership project for the rest of us to finance. The Greater Cleveland Partnership, if you don’t know, is the representative of the top corporate people in Cleveland. It doesn’t represent the interests of ordinary people. GCP gets something as the Murphy Foundation interested and we’re off to the races.

 

All the usual suspects have usual trite things to say. City Planning director Bob Brown finds the ideas “fascinating.” Joe Cimperman Public Square is “pretty thrilled.” Chris Roynane is “excited.”

 

Is there anyone here who thinks for him or herself? Does everyone have to eat the pie served by GCP and its boosters?

 

In the mid 1980s we spent some $12 million to spruce up Public Square and I’m sure more than that (though I can’t find a figure) in 1975 when the wife of PD publisher and Editor Tom Vail, Iris Vail, headed up a beautification of Public Square.

 

Unfortunately, Litt, who has the PD morgue files, doesn’t tell us just how much we’ve already spent in “bettering” Public Square.

 

With all the problems that Cleveland has why is the PD pushing once again – at the behest of downtown interests, not the least the Tower City gang whose front door is Public Square – for another redo of Public Square.

 

Can’t they pay attention to the real problems of real Cleveland people? And then they grouse about “leadership” as they march in lock step to every task presented by the downtown business people.

 

Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

 

The grandiose talk of turning Public Square into a Chicago Millennium Park is so farfetched as to be laughable. Litt should be ashamed of himself for putting this as even a thought. Chicago’s park cost $475 million, some $270 million from the city’s revenues.

 

Have you noticed that the city is supposed to be so hard-up that it has to charge $8 a month to collect people’s garbage?

 

I’ve walked across Public Square many times. I’ve been to demonstrations on Public Square. It can serve its purpose as it is. Let’s not get carried away with all this feel good stuff that’s being sold by the same old people.

 

“The project shows that a critical mass of leaders in Cleveland now believes that landscape design is essential to the success of the city and not a matter of added shrubs when a major building project or highway is finished,” Litt writes.

 

Please.

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Public Square

Wanting to waste more money sprucing up a Ghost Town........

more yellow meters?

I know, let's turn it into parking (Cleveland Planning Commission is the champion of that methodology) - we could even build parking garages and install more GCP yellow meters for out of sight-out-of-mind mini-gifts to the homeless and hungry. Didn't we just read that the county is wielding a bat to fight hunger in NEO?

The county will hold back about a third of the money budgeted for fighting hunger until two outside agencies, the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland and the Cleveland Foodbank, develop a plan to work more closely together to reduce the cost of food per pound.

Administrators say that if they don't, the county should consider other proposals for the money it spends on hunger services. That amounts to almost $1.1 million in the 2010 budget approved by county commissioners this month.

Said Commissioner Tim Hagan, "Let them eat cake." We know - that money is slated for the silver bullet - medcon.

When are we going to realize that we have to make do with what we've got? No new landscaping or fancy new mixed use developments (port authority) are gonna change the equation. Young professionals are having difficulty finding jobs. They won't be inhabiting downtown condos any time soon. They're living back at home.

News flash: Cleveland has shrunk - get used to it. Got lemons? Make lemonade cause that may be all you can make. Tip: clean water makes better lemonade. Where ARE our priorities? Or is priority a concept for our elected dreamers?

Take that $11,100/day we are giving to MMPI and feed the hungry. Let them set up tents on land bank land and subsidize them to grow their own food on more vacant land. Institute the on demand work corps. Public Square will take care of itself.

exactly

the only ones left in this area will be the homeless and hungry,,,,  Ghost Town in the making.  Jackson will be taxing the yellow meters, in due time...

I 100% disagree.

I can personally attest that downtown development projects are exactly what would keep me in Cleveland, and I'm confident that it's true for many other young professionals. Cleveland isn't the only city without jobs. Portland and Austin have unemployment rates that make Cleveland look not so bad, and young people are flocking to those cities. Why? Not because it's a rocking job market. Because it's an awesome place to be young and single.

The most disappointing thing about Cleveland to me is that so many projects seem not to get done, the projects that do happen aren't exciting (the med mart and casino) and the ones, like this, that seem promising, are greated with such incredible negativity by Clevelanders.

I 100% disagree

The problem,  as you correctly stated robpitingolo, is that many projects are not completed and a lot of money is wasted on these brilliant ideas.  I think if we could actually find a couple uncorrupted planners/politicians that would actually complete the projects without wasting millions of tax payer dollars, we would be a bit more enthusiastic.  Unfortunately, what we have in this County does not cause the residents to have much enthusiasm when we  hear of new public corruption daily.

Just put a dome over the square

that will solve everything. 

100%

robpitingolo- thank you for posting. You make some great points.

This article rightly expresses the distrust and skepticism we might all share about a new downtown "investment." But I think we can agree that Public Square in its current state isn't exactly a grand connector- as Litt quotes Godot in the article: "the main activity <there>... is waiting." I only see it crowded and vibrant once per year; for the Cleveland Orchestra's public concert in July.

A dynamic public space that brings people together a la Millennium Park in Chicago would be a fantastic asset. Do the ideas presented even resemble such a space? No one knows. But, as a downtown resident I'm glad to at least see the conversation started.

 

The Christmas lighting is

The Christmas lighting is well attended too. 

My daughter attends that almost every year.  She told me that this year Major Jackson was booed, probably because of the new garbage tax.