On January 21st, Cudell Improvement celebrated its 40th annual meeting with a gathering at Brennan’s Party Center on Triskett.
In brief remarks at the start of the meeting, Ward 15 Councilman Matt Zone noted that a new grocer had committed to the proposed development at W. 117 and Clifton and while he couldn’t yet reveal which grocer, he promised “you will be very impressed.”
Cleveland Metroparks Trustee Debbie Berry and Cleveland Metroparks Chief Executive Officer Brian Zimmerman collaborated in giving the keynote address.
Berry focused her remarks on the Metroparks’ implementation of its 2011 strategic plan. She said while security and maintenance of the park are a major focus and plan also calls for making sure everyone in Cuyahoga County has access to a park within five or ten minutes.
Berry said the Metroparks are now managing 500 acres along the lakefront. Using public meetings and online surveys to determine public preferences, the Metroparks developed new programing for Edgewater Park. Berry said from the comments collected from the public, they learned people wanted to connect with the lakefront but also keep a unique Cleveland flavor.
Berry said since taking over the management of the lakefront park from the State of Ohio, there has been an increase in the number of bicycles accessing the park from nearby neighborhoods. She cited a 53% increase in bicycle traffic in the lakefront park. Berry also talked about an increasing number of events and family oriented activities at Edgewater Park.
Berry also mentioned the Metroparks involvement along the Cuyahoga River at Rivergate Park including the new Metroparks restaurant, Merwin’s Warf, which she said is now more accessible with the reopening of the Columbus Road Bridge.
Metroparks Chief Executive Officer Zimmerman said the $14 million the Metroparks secured in state funding when it took over management of the lakefront park has helped to fund some capital improvements. He said some construction and engineering contracts are still under state control with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources finishing up projects. Zimmerman noted a number of efforts under way involving collaboration with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the city of Cleveland. He noted a new roundabout planned for the entrance to Edgewater Park and the ODOT’s plans to rebuild the West Shoreway.
He talked about the Lakeland trail that would be under design by year’s end and connected to the to the towpath trail coming from Scranton Peninsula to Columbus Road to Wendy Park. Zimmerman said he expects the trail, when completed, to attract people from across the country to enjoy the lakefront. He talked about the importance of the efforts of the Community Development Corporations such as Cudell to help make the lakefront a better place. Zimmerman noted the success of the Edgewater Live Thursday evening events at Edgewater Park in attracting crowds to the waterfront to enjoy family friendly activities. He talked about the NEO Cycle event this year that attracted cyclists to the park and of the accompanying Night Ride along the closed Shoreway.
Zimmerman talked about the amenities that attracted people to Edgewater Park and Rivergate Park. He mentioned the beautiful sunsets at Edgewater Park. He said some of the attractions at the parks included music, yoga, paddleboards, volleyball, and a water taxi. He said a partnership with the Rock-n-Roll Museum would help to bring music to the parks.
Zimmerman also talked about the Metroparks roll in preservation of wildlife including assuring the preservations of food sources for migrating birds and butterflies.
Zimmerman and Berry urged those present to participate in an online survey about what amenities they would like to see at an Edgewater Beach House. Architect Ted Ferringer of Bialosky Architects is seeking community input on its design. To participate go to: http://metroparksedgewater.mindmixer.com.
Cudell Improvement Executive Director Anita Brindza thanked the keynote speakers and reminded all that Cudell is a waterfront community. She then talked about the unique and wonderful relationship of Cudell Improvement to the Cleveland Police Department, which she mentioned had gone through some tough times in the last few months. She then invited the Cleveland Police Department’s First District Commander Thomas McCartney to the podium to speak.
Commander McCartney noted some upcoming milestones in his career. He said July 1st would mark his tenth year as a commander. In October he will have served 25 years as a Cleveland Police office and be eligible for retirement. McCartney said he talked to his wife about the possibility of retirement. She asked him if he enjoyed his job. He said every time he puts on his uniform he feels like a kid coming out of the academy. “I get a real kick out of being a policeman,” he said. McCartney praised Cudell Improvement for its cooperation with the police department over the years. He talked about coming to meetings in the neighborhood to help develop strategies to combat crime. He said, “The Cudell area is successful because of the relationship we have with the community.”
Following Commander McCartney, Brindza introduced Sea of Blue CLE organizers Mary Jo Graves and Megan Connelly. The two organizers spoke briefly as to why they organized the rally in downtown Cleveland in support of police officers. They said they did it out of a feeling that “every life matters” and “you can’t make everyone guilty by association.” They said what started out as a plan for a small gathering downtown ended up with an estimated 5,500 people in attendance.
The awards ceremony followed the speeches.
In honor of his parents, Walter Martens Jr. presented the Walter and Pauline Martens Lifetime Achievement Award to David M. Douglass, Esp. Martens noted that Douglass was a long time volunteer at Cudell Improvement, a former president of the West Boulevard Neighborhood Association (WBNA) in 1982-1983, he wrote the first grant for the WBNA recycling center and had provided assistance over the years to both Simpson Methodist Church and St. Ignatius of Antioch Church.
Jerry Bird of Cleveland Uniform received the Storefront Renovation Award for his work on the Bird Building at 9861 Lorain Avenue.
Volunteer Edward Kiss received the service award for helping Cudell Improvement staff member Pat Konopka to set up the organizations grants and contracts in QuickBooks.
Another award announced included the Good Guy Award to Douglas Nornyak of Hornyak Plumbing, 9900 Lorain Avenue.
Following the awards, Brindza noted some of the accomplishments of Cudell Improvement from 1974 to 2014. She said Cudell’s Storefront renovation program, which began in 1984, had resulted in 151 projects completed. She said property owners had invested $4,407,392 in the renovations of their properties and had received $1,909,750 in rebates. Since 1982 the organization’s Home Weatherization Assistance Program had provided $18,865,000 in assistance to 11,600 units of housing. The organization’s code enforcement staff had completed inspection of 34,000 structures and had a 58% voluntary compliance record.
Other accomplishments noted included numerous safety meetings, and a number of graffiti removal rebates issued.
Cudell Improvement Housing Director Jan Kappenhagen announced that the City of Cleveland plans to do a mailer soon announcing its waste collection policy. She said the city plans to complete the roll out of its automated waste collection containers by October of this year. She urged residents to pay attention to the mailer from the city, which outlines the differences in the amount of waste residents can put out. She noted the city plans to issue fines if the rules are not followed, but there will be a grace period as residents adapt to the new system. She said the city has a poor recycling record of only 13%. Also the city plans to phase out the recycling bins, which have experienced a lot of contamination.