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What's happening in sustainability 1.3.14

Marc Lefkowitz  |  01/03/14 @ 2:00pm

A round up of some interesting news items relating to a sustainable Northeast Ohio for the first week of January, 2014.

Abandoned CLE<br />Image of an abandoned building in Cleveland from Seph Lawless and The Weather Channel.Happy trails<br />This spot along Coventry Road will get a side path connecting to the Lake to Lakes Trail.Coming through<br />The group Save Lower Prospect point out the deficiencies in the new casino skywalk.Where's the fire?<br />Cleveland will have a new Fire Museum and education center across from Progressive Field.New power player<br />Plans for a 1-megawatt solar power farm are unfolding on Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland.

  • The region will plug in its third, 1-megawatt solar panel array this year (the first two are at CMHA’s headquarters on Kinsman Road and on the roof of the Wolstein Center at CSU). Last month, The Medical Company—the nonprofit utility for Case and big University Circle institutions—quietly broke ground on a solar power plant on a vacant lot on Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland. Some might argue that locking up that particular lot for 20-30 years for ground-mounted solar panels—as nice as 1 Mw of new, clean power will be—is an example of old think. With one in three homes vacant in E. Cleveland, it’s imaginable that land at this scale can be assembled in a location that isn’t Euclid (where developers are sure to take an interest in the coming decade). We hope that Case is doing research here, and that it yields a breakthrough that enables MedCo to produce a megawatt of power with a much smaller set of solar panels mounted on a multi-family building on this site in the future.
  • Shaker and Cleveland Heights announced in late 2013 that they will extend the Lake to Lakes Trail—a side path that links parts of Shaker with University Circle on Fairhill Road and Stokes Boulevard. The cities will pave a path on the north side of Fairhill (pictured) as it winds its way to Coventry Road, North Park Boulevard and the entrance to the lower Shaker Lake. Three cheers for cross-city collaboration happening to advance cycling and walking as an everyday option. This small stretch has vexed many Cleveland Heights residents who like to walk and bike to Shaker Square but didn’t care much for getting stuck in the mud.
  • Save Lower Prospect, a group of preservation-minded Clevelanders, shared some jeers for the new skywalk that flies over Prospect to connect the Horseshoe Casino with its parking garage. Adding insult to injury when the solid Columbia Building was demolished for the garage, the skywalk was viewed by the group as an ugly degradation of the pedestrian environment around Lower Prospect, right in the heart of the resurgent downtown Cleveland. The group kept tabs on the construction of walkway and that’s when things got interesting. They observed that the walkway MISSED the opening punched into the side of the National Landmark Higbee Building. The solution (pictured) was to build a bulky frame that further degrades the architecture of the historic building.
  • Historic preservation was a consideration driving the new Fire Museum, a historic renovation of Cleveland’s Fire Station #28 which stands at the foot of the new Innerbelt Bridge at Ontario Street and Carnegie Avenue (across from Progressive Field). The building was spared from the wrecking ball and thoughtfully restored for its tenant, The Western Reserve Fire Museum and Education Center. Their mission is to “dramatically increase fire safety education and help reduce the numbers of fire deaths and injuries in Northeast Ohio.” Plans also show a walkway and paved trail that will connect to a future Towpath Trail extension to the Cleveland Flats.
  • Cleveland writer Joe Baur makes a strong case for reusing our built patrimony in a post to the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2014 web site. Baur claims that adaptive reuse is the place for cities to start rebuilding. He writes that “Reinvesting in the core has also fostered opportunity by luring young talent, thus forming a critical mass of innovation. This blueprint has been used by smart cities across the country in order to advance sustainable development and better address issues related to water, energy and waste.”
  • It’s been derisively called ‘ruin porn’—the practice of capturing images of decayed and crumbling places most often in urban centers and sharing them for shock value. And now Cleveland and East Cleveland get to have their turn. The Weather Channel posted 40 images titled Forgotten Cleveland from a photographer operating under the nom de guerre Seph Lawless. Melting walls inside abandoned homes, Gothic arches and crumbling frescos in once-proud churches exposed to the elements and the like. Ruin porn burst on to the scene with an infamous Detroit volume, but at this point, we must ask, is there any shock value left? How many ruin porn portraits of Cleveland does it take before our leaders start a conversation about the terrible costs of urban blight, in particular, another generation growing up with the constant reminder of the scale of indifference to what’s happening in the city?

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