rich vs. poor -Tremont West Development Corporation fails to address long standing parking problems by Jerleen Justus

Submitted by Quest-News-Serv... on Mon, 05/18/2009 - 23:50.

Ward 13 Councilman Joe Cimperman stated, “I can not put into words my frustrations with the Building and Housing Department when it comes to inspections."

Tremont West Development Corporation fails
to address long standing parking problems

by Jerleen Justus

(Plain Press, May 2009) Tremont residential residents have rolled up the welcome mat for the overflow of parking of the Professor Retail District that has plagued their neighborhood for nearly a decade. Under captivating banners for storefront renovations that are polished up with tasteful promotions and bedecked with flowery ballyhoo, Tremont West Development Corporation (TWDC) continues to endorse and support new businesses, land developers and high-end bar/restaurants with full knowledge of an out of control parking situation.

Committees, meetings and years of talks have left many native denizens believing that those inside the organization persist in making decisions favoring business owners without making the best interest of the community a number one priority. Since one of Tremont's more prominent land developers has infiltrated the organization and is now a salaried staff member (Strategic Investment Initiative (SII) Development Director Sammy Catania), it is questionable as to whether or not his influence on sitting committees could be suspect when fellow developers come looking for endorsement and letters of support at TWDC.

NEWS ANALYSIS

As recently as February of this year, the Economic Development/Long Range Planning Committee, with only members/chairs David Purpera, Sandy Smith and SII Development Director Sammy Catania in attendance. In their exuberance to add  more notches on the wall, they unanimously endorsed a business proposal presented by Dante Boccuzzi.  Inquiry revealed that many committee members were not in attendance for this important discussion due to the change of date and late notice given by TWDC as well as sitting members not being made aware of this agenda item.

It is scripted throughout the Tremont SII Program "that the necessity exists to accommodate the parking needs of residents; the need for creating a parking plan for the Professor Avenue Commercial District that alleviates the issue between residential parking needs and the requirement of the business patrons and; that commercial developers must respect the needs of the surrounding residents by managing the traffic and parking issues."

Vicky Slone of West 7th and College states, "these people have no common decency. They leave their trash, used condoms, beer and whiskey bottles, they urinate on our flowers, leave their drunken vomit on our sidewalks for us to clean up and we're just supposed to keep suckin' it up," she continues.  "I don't know how many we've run off doin' it right here in front of the door. Sometimes the drunks are out here arguing and brawlin' at two and three in the morning waking everybody up and we've had enough."

Many long-time home owners, who believe they have paid their dues, must rely on street parking and often return home from work, shopping or other daily activities, finding bumper to bumper patron and valet parked vehicles, have long lost their patience. Pedestrians, especially those with walking disabilities, in wheelchairs or pushing baby strollers find themselves and/or their children at risk trying to steer clear of vehicles parked on the sidewalks, blocking access ramps, driveways and crosswalks.

Former Tremont resident Sandra Fox states, "Let some old person with a cane fall or somebody's kid get run over trying to get around one of them cars and I bet you they find some parking spaces. Of course, by then it'll be too late, I'm sure if they pool some money somebody will sell them a lot to park cars."

Local customers of the Professor Market are also feeling the pinch.  Archie Coon states, "Try getting in to buy a gallon of milk on a busy night.  Valet cones out in the street, cars parked everywhere, you have to drive around the block three or four times hoping somebody will move. It's crazy man and if they put another restaurant right next to the store with more valet cones, and more parking on the street, the store's hit and that's not right." Pointing to his truck as another car tries to squeeze in a small space, he continues.  "People have counted on the store for years and what's happening is not fair to the store owners or the residents."

In researching public records at Cleveland City Hall, records show that at the time variances were granted the Board of Zoning Appeals, based upon testimony, letters of support and off-street parking site plans, did stipulate a total number of required off-street parking spaces for certain prime time establishments. What remains unclear is why these much needed required parking lots never materialized and why the non-compliance of these establishments has been allowed to continue while the parking requirements were overlooked for a span of ten years.

During the examination of variances requested by business owner of the Flying Monkey (corner of Jefferson and Professor) two anomalies regarding parking issues came to the forefront.  A request for a variance to establish use in 2001 was approved based on the business owner stating and providing a twelve (12) car on site off-street parking lot and a letter of support from TWDC.  This parking lot did not exist and does not exist today.  In a telephone conversation Flying Monkey owner Tom Bell stated, "Parking conditions have not changed in eight years." When ask about the twelve-car site plan, Bell stated, "that was plan b."

Records further show that in January 2008, a detailed fifty-two car off-street parking site plan for 807 Jefferson was turned in and Flying Monkey business owner applied for a variance to expand use to the second floor. The City of Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals (BOZA) approved the expansion based on the testimony, detailed site plans and letter of support signed by TWDC Executive Director Chris Garland stating, "Presuming all plans are in accordance with City of Cleveland codes and ordinances."

Flying Monkey business owner stated, "I have had about ten meetings with the people at TWDC.  It was their idea that we wait on building a parking lot because they wanted to build a model project called a bio swell."

While not only was this parking lot not in existence at the time the variance was granted, Flying Monkey business owner Tom Bell also did not own the property at 807 Jefferson. TWDC Board minutes, dated June 19, 2008, indicate that in his adieu as president of the Board of Trustees, head honcho Sammy Catania took it upon himself to make a motion, to use $10,000 of model block funds to help owners of Flying Monkey and Tremont Lofts acquire city land bank lot at 807 Jefferson to provide 30 spaces of paved parking for lofts residents and 30 for public parking. The board voted unanimously to approve."  Model Block Funding is taxpayer provided funding that is administered through the City of Cleveland.
However, via Cuyahoga County Records, PP 004-17-012, 807 Jefferson was titled to both Thomas K. Bell and Myrl Roberts, in the sales amount of -0- dollars from the City Land Bank, on December 1, 2008.  Leaving a $10,000 question, where's the cash?

Further investigation into the parking conundrum surfaced a Parking Lot Lease Agreement between the Cleveland Public Library and Tremont West Development Corp. (Developer) concerning leasing parking spaces at the Jefferson Branch Library.  This document was executed on May 2, 2002, and signed by former TWDC Executive Director Colleen Gilson.
There were also many letters and communications that transpired between Library Officials and TWDC before negotiations ended, however, these terms were included in the signed draft:  "Developer shall pay Library a monthly fee on or before the first day of each month during the initial term in the amount of One Hundred Forty Dollars ($140.00) (the "Parking Fee").  "Library shall permit Developer or it's Permitted Assignee to use the Parking Spaces as follows:"

Following the signatures of all official parties, the paragraph reads:  "Concurrently with the execution of this Agreement Developer is assigning its rights hereunder to Permitted Assignee (as defined above) and Permitted Assignee hereby acknowledged and agrees each and every item."  The document was signed Rocco Whalen, sole proprietor of a restaurant located at 820 Jefferson. The body of this Agreement also included Limitation on Assignment Memorandum of Agreement - Item 7 (b):  "This Agreement shall not be recorded in any public records."  Former TWDC Executive Director Colleen Gilson did not return a call for comment.  

In an interview with the current TWDC Executive Director Chris Garland, a request was made orally and in writing to review board minutes and cancelled checks made payable to the Cleveland Public Library. The request was an attempt to ascertain what funds were used to disburse the parking fees and on what basis the community organization would be paying for a private profit making business owner’s facilities for valet parking. TWDC Executive Director Chris Garland stated, "That is an unreasonable request."  

Since it has come to light that restaurant owner Rocco Whalen was a sitting member of the Board of Trustees of Tremont West Development Corp from January 2004 - January 2006, and there is dated correspondence which clearly indicates that the Lease between TWDC and the Cleveland Public Library was still in effect, not having access to board minutes prior to 2006 leaves many unanswered questions for both media and TWDC members. Although no current lease has been found or produced, it is believed that Fahrenheit still has use of the Jefferson Branch Library's fourteen off-street spaces for valet parking after the Library’s closing hours. TWDC Executive Director Chris Garland states, "presently no checks are being paid out for Fahrenheit, and TWDC is not involved in any formal capacity."

Records also show that Fahrenheit has been operating more than five years without a Certificate of Occupancy. The absence of a compliant dumpster with an enclosure to relieve this operation of placing garbage bags and boxes on the sidewalk in the public-right-of-way could be holding up the process. It was on this fact-finding mission that furry four-legged patrons were sighted dinning alfresco at the dumpster when the coast was clear.

Ward 13 Councilman Joe Cimperman stated, “I can not put into words my frustrations with the Building and Housing Department when it comes to inspections."

 

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The city needs to take

The city needs to take parking more serious,

 

 

each space in an automated garage costs $25,000

Good Work Jerleen

And thanks to the Plain Press too.  

The CDC's constitute our unelected, secretive/private, yet well financed, government.  

Citizens sense they are being abused, and leave.  

Rustbelt isn't the problem, CDC's are the problem.

jeffb

Thanks Jeff  Look for Part

Thanks Jeff 

Look for Part III in June.

 

CDCs are the problem

  Take a look at the CDCs funded with your money.  Guess what?  These folks don't have to live here, either.   And it seems there is a new one everyday!   Can I get my sewers, streets, sidewalks fixed and parks and rec centers maintained?  Of course, not!
 

Plain Press

 
 

Check out this month's Plain Press on newstands and at your local library.   The Summer Guide is always very useful

http://www.plainpress.org/html/specialfeatures.htm

And articles can also be found online:

http://www.plainpress.org/html/news.htm

Makes me wonder why people buy the Plain Dealer

One has community news, the other thinks it is news. I'll take plain presses over dealers, thank you.

Disrupt IT

To live in Tremont you must

To live in Tremont you must have, your own parking spaces and insulation to block noise and healthy lungs.

So you need central air and whole house air purifier, then also a fence around you entire yard. People that live in the inner city know that, it why you see so many yards fenced up to the sidewalk. Trees are good too they absorb sound, but if you move to a street and it has bars and restaurant then expect activity and if it bothers you then move. It like moving into areas that are “up and coming” and then having breakdown when it does not change or you realize it not changing or getting worse. It the same thing about living on street that has commerce near by it can affect you, think twice.

What the theme what’s the motivation, drama and we like to bitch about stuff.

I waiting for the story about a CDC holding gun to a home owners head and saying sign the purchase agreement or we are going to blow your brains out. Then I would be like holy shit they are chasing people out of the areas.

If they do not got it together they do not have it together….why don’t more people move to the city? You think it is going to change? Then rent and you can change to.

Wouldn’t they have to tear something down to make parking? Then it would be a different story, maybe that the next story, shit we made them do it! It like that, really to bad your not in charged or is it thank god your not in charge…depends on the wind I guess.

People screwing in the street? I never see that, where was I?

And what the heck is a bioswell, run a pipe to the river it is right there and all down hill!     

Bio SWALE

Wikipedia has a description of bioswales.  Every hard surface - roof, parking lot, even lawns - shed much more precipitation than an undisturbed natural surface.

Stormwater which is not absorbed on individal lots is discharged to the streets and then becomes a load which must be handled by the storm/sewer infrastructure - which infrastructure the taxpayers must pay to install and maintain.

It is very important both ecologically and in terms of public costs, to retain/restrain as much storm water as possible as close to where it originates as possible. 

Back when I was still reporting a few encouraging news items about NEO, the First Catholic Slavic Ladies Association re-built their facility on Chagrin Boulevard in Beachwood, Ohio in 2006 and  they installed a large retention basin at the in the front yard of the property to accept run off from their parking lot.   Typically, bioswales might lead run off to a retention basin - helping to slow down and filter the stormwater.

So Beachwood gets it.   Most Ohio cities continue to ignore this morally correct, sensible and cost effective practice.

OK - Jeff

You are clearly more of an authority on City Bio Swales than me.  I will let you do the explaining in that department.  I do know my limitations. 

I am aware that they are supposed to be good for the environment as far as filtering out the impurities before the water goes into the drain system and into the lakes. 

With all due respect

With all due respect Oengus,

Most of us lived here long before the new high-end bars/restaurants came into the area and therefore we lived for many many years without all these problems.  These long time residents have paid their dues and cannot just up and move, nor should they have to.  These business owners could easily purchase some property and construct a decent sized parking lot.

A bioswell is a fancy name for an expensive drainage system (in Tremont)  An excuse to waste money that could be used for much more needed things.  So, instead of constructing a parking lot to relieve some of the parking stress and get it done, they want to build a parking lot over a bioswell.

A bioswell is a means of allowing the run-off of water to drain through a system that will remove the impurities before it is released back into nature (earth, streams, lakes, etc.)  Some places have dry-wells under ground which basically  serves the same purpose.   Down in the hills, when I was a kid, there was a saying "that if water ran over nine rocks, it was clean enough to drink"  of course, pollution wasn't what it is today.  But we got our drinking water from a stream out of the mountain.  We would dam up a hole of water with big rocks and then fill in behind it with a lot of smaller rocks and then a few feet down below, dam up another deeper hole of water (always under lots of trees, it would stay ice cold)  and the 2nd hole would be the water we used out of, because the first dam acted as a filtering system.  Hence the term "mountain spring water." 

 

 

Conundrums

The mysteries keep piling up and no one wants to investigate the misuse of public funds. 

TWDC Board minutes, dated June 19, 2008, indicate that in his adieu as president of the Board of Trustees, head honcho Sammy Catania took it upon himself to make a motion, to use $10,000 of model block funds to help owners of Flying Monkey and Tremont Lofts acquire city land bank lot at 807 Jefferson to provide 30 spaces of paved parking for lofts residents and 30 for public parking. The board voted unanimously to approve. Model Block Funding is taxpayer provided funding that is administered through the City of Cleveland.  However, via Cuyahoga County Records, PP 004-17-012, 807 Jefferson was titled to both Thomas K. Bell and Myrl Roberts, in the sales amount of -0- dollars from the City Land Bank, on December 1, 2008.  Leaving a $10,000 question, where's the cash?

Thank you for this Plain Press article, Jerleen.  I really enjoy your writing style, which reminds me of Larry McMurtry.  I hope you are working on your great American novel to go along with this Tremont saga.
 

 

BIGGER THAN GONE WITH THE WIND

lmcshane.

This would be bigger and longer than Gone with the wind.  And I don't know who would replace Vivian Leigh and Rhett Butler.  Nobody won't talk to me about the $10,000.  Shoot, nobody won't even talk to me about the $140.00/mo that TWDC paid for Rocco Whalen's valet parking at the library and who would think to put a clause in "not to make it a part of public records." 

But you all haven't heard the best one, oh no.  I'm really on the "crap" list this week.  Nobody want's to talk to me.  I goofed and missed a meeting last Thursday (Housing Committee meeting) and from what I understand, I missed a royal show.  A "reporter" never reveals their sources, so I I can't tell all.  But, there was supposed to be some sort of a plot after the meeting) going on to get  John Moss thrown into the same catagory as Henry Senyak and myself.  I feel for the poor guy.  Now, I do know the names of these individuals but I can't say because it would jeopardize my source.  Are they crazy or what?  I had my issues with John Moss but, who in their right mind at TWDC would take on the influential, Merril Lynch John Moss and try to have him barred from any committees?  Now, they're all workin' and trying to put a spin on things telling me there's no story but I was told early on that I was NOT to be a part of any of these discussions or be given any details.  I bet I don't miss any more meetings.  Three or four people are calling and some are telling me I'm being used, others are saying go for it, some are saying you're doing just what they wanted you to do,  I've been called a loose cannon, had things tacked to me e-mails like "you're remembered by what you try to build instead of what you try to tear down"  yea, unless it's an atom bomb.    I'm a firm believer in "keeping your friends close and your enemies closer."  unless they're a dam rattler. 

Anyway, today, I'm finishing up THE REST OF THE STORY- read all about it in the June issue. 

This time, I'll just walk up and kiss the barn door and wait - cause I know my hide is gettin' nailed again.

nice job

 My only complaint -- I'm waiting until June to find out where the $10k went???

You're killing me!

TWDC is the role model for private/corporate/elite take over of the CDC system - once the champions of the working poor. Shame on them and Shame on Sammy Catania - in fact everyone should heap him with shame - he quite obviously has none.

dbra,I sent out e-mails to

dbra,

I sent out e-mails to all parties involved and ask for a comment on the 807 Jefferson Parking lot that was according to some, finished this month.  It's still a $10,000 mud hole.  The joker is, I couldn't get Tom Bell to tell me how plan b, got put before plan a, (807) which came several years later.  When I ask him about the illegally permitted patio which sits in the middle of plan b, he said that he had a permit, but the 'city lost it"  - as the next story will reveal, the city must have lost a lot of them, because the Tree House, Fat Cats, Visible Voice, South Side and Prosperity are the only permitted patios in Tremont. excluding the cafe style.  and there is only two of those.  How are Ward 13 businesses getting away so long with this degree of non-compliance while the poor residents are hauled up to muster over loose gutters and peeling paint?  TWDC is behind more of it than anybody thinks.  All of the letters of support can be read at city hall.

I never heard the word

I never heard the word Bioswell, but I am up on water sheds just not that term.

This is good article on Urban Water Sheds, in it a Bioswell is an infiltration basin. I would like them to be bigger and with wetland if possible.  I do under stand that passing through the earth to the water table purifies the water.  I am all about the daylighting but the issue with people dumbing really makes me think direct acces is not so good.