by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, March 2011) At the February 24th Franklin/Clinton Block Club meeting, residents listened to a full array of presentations on projects and plans for their neighborhood and the surrounding community.
Block Club leader Bill Merriman introduced the various speakers beginning with David Hovis a parent enthused about the new Intergenerational School, which plans to move to the neighborhood.
The Near West Intergenerational School will be led by the same woman, Kathy Whitehouse, who is the founder of a successful Intergenerational School on Fairhill Avenue in the University Circle neighborhood, said Hovis. He said that the existing Intergenerational School has been operating for eleven years. There are 7 years of state test score records for the school and for 6 of those 7 years the school received an excellent rating, the other year it was rated effective. Hovis says this school has the best record of any charter school in the state. He noted the school has 16 children per teacher. Children spend three years with each teacher. Older children can help younger children. Children must master a lesson before moving on. Volunteers are recruited to help with one-on-one reading with students in each classroom.
Near West Intergenerational School is slated to open in August of this year serving students in Kindergarten through Second Grade. The school hopes to recruit 96 students before the start of the school year. As a charter school there is no tuition. Hovis says the Intergenerational School is one of five charter schools that will be partnering with the Cleveland Municipal School System in the next school year.
Hovis noted that the school’s founder Cathy Whitehead has a background in child psychology and education. He said her husband, Peter Whitehosue, is a geriatric neurologist, hence the Intergenerational component of the school. Senior citizens are recruited as volunteers to help provide individual attention to students. Hovis says the school has recruited about a third of the student population, is looking at a number of sites in the immediate neighborhood and plans to be ready for the August 2011 opening.
W. 38th Street Traffic
The second presentation was from the block club’s 38th Street Traffic Safety Committee. The committee formed in response to a 5-year-old girl being fatally struck by a car after running into the street by the Fairview Park playground.
The committee suggested a number of ways to improve safety, slow traffic and reduce congestion on the street. Suggestions included creating a fence along the park side to inhibit children from running into the street, asking school buses to load and unload in the rear parking lot behind Kentucky school.
The committee said City of Cleveland Traffic Engineer Bob Mavec suggested making a four way stop instead of the stop light at W. 38th and Franklin to prevent cars from gunning to beat the light. Committee members suggested also reducing the speed limit on Franklin from 35 to 25 miles per hour, and limiting parallel parking to the West Side of W. 38th Street so school children won’t have to cross the street. Other ideas presented included placing rumble strips on the crosswalk and flashers in front of the school, reducing parking on the east side of the street by the garden. It was suggested that Friends of Fairview Park could apply for a grant, or appeal to the City of Cleveland, which owns Fairview Park, for funds for the fencing. The committee said the next step is to present the ideas to the City of Cleveland Traffic Engineer Bob Mavec.
W. 25th & Church Development
Developer Rick Foran was next on the agenda. Foran made a presentation on his plans to rehab an old brewery on W. 25th and Church and the former CMHA complex on the South Side of Church between W. 25th and W. 28th Streets. He said the project still in its early stages of getting approval from the local design review committee and the City of Cleveland Landmarks Commission hopes to make use of a federal Housing and Urban Development program (221 D4) designed to create market rate housing in neighborhoods with low income populations.
Foran says the old Bear Brewery on W. 25th will be restored with commercial space on the first floor and market rate apartments above. A middle building between the two historic buildings will be torn down to create a courtyard.
On Church Avenue, the former CMHA building will be fitted with new windows and infill the floors with market rate apartments. Foran says in all 64 apartments are planned, 57 indoor parking spaces and 70 outdoor parking places. The charter school at the West end of the property will remain, but their playground will become a parking lot. Foran says the school plans to expand the indoor gym as a play area and possibly purchase a lot across the street for an outdoor play area.
Vine Court Garden
A resident from the Vine Court area made a presentation on a new sign and sculpture planned for the alleyway with the help of a Neighborhood Connections grant. Lorain Avenue artist John Ranally has been commissioned to create the sculpture. The artist will also etch the name of the garden on a Stainless steel sign to be placed on the garden. Residents hope to create a certified wildlife habitat in the garden with native plants, berries, nesting areas and food for migrating birds.
Housing Trust Fund
Ohio City Near West staff members presented an idea to help rehab large vacant homes along Franklin Avenue where the cost of rehabbing the historic home may exceed the value of the home. They said they are applying for funds from the Housing Trust Fund to provide gap financing to help make up the difference in financing in cases where rehabbing the historic homes is cost prohibitive. Staff members indicated that many of the homes are too large to be used as single family structures so they hope to use part of the funds to help plan for alternative uses. They urged residents to help recommend vacant structure in and around a small section of Franklin for the project.
Ohio City staff member Christina Keegan presented the group with a list of neighborhood meetings she compiled. The list included an application for membership in Ohio City Near West. Among the meeting notices was a notice for a newly formed Vacant Housing Task Force which she said will help plan what to do about vacant houses throughout the neighborhood. Keegan planned to use volunteers to pass out the meeting notice packet throughout the neighborhood.
OCNW Safety Coordinator Bob Shores shared a list of recent crime reports with residents. He urged residents to record serial numbers of their valuables to aid in their recovery when stolen. He noted a number of car break-ins with thieves searching for valuables and even loose change on the console.
St. Herman’s Monastery
The meeting concluded with a discussion of efforts by area volunteers to assist with the transition to new leadership at St. Herman’s monastery. (See related article).