By Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, June 2016) On May 12th Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack and Ohio City Incorporated (OCI) community organizer Destinee Henton met with residents of Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority’s (CMHA) Riverview Towers at 1795 W. 25th Street. The meeting, hosted by the James Woods Center of the Rose Centers for Aging Well at Riverview Towers, provided residents an opportunity to raise issues of concern such as safety for pedestrians in the
neighborhood, service of Regional Transit Authority buses, parking issues, and opportunities for seniors to get involved in the neighborhood.
Riverview resident Cynthia Triplett talked about the tendency in the United States to throw elders away. She talked about the neglect of the elderly, saying, “With politicians today, everything is geared to people under age 46.”
As an example she talked about Cleveland politicians that had promised to fix the dangerous conditions for pedestrians on W. 25th Street, but had not followed through. Triplett talked about how dangerous it is for people to cross W. 25th Street in front of Riverview. Speaking of the light in front of Riverview, she said, “Cars act like the light is not here.” She called for the walk sign at the light in front of Riverview to be on for a longer period of time to allow residents with walkers or wheelchairs to safely cross the street.
Triplett called for more ticketing of cars going through red lights on W. 25th Street. She offered to organize residents at Riverview to write down license plate numbers of cars ignoring the traffic light. Riverview resident Dwight Hooks urged that the problem be taken care of immediately. OCI organizer Henton said her job is to address the concerns of the “underserved and underrepresented.” She cited work already undertaken to try to get the Ohio Department of Transportation to improve the pedestrian infrastructure at W. 25th and Detroit Avenue.
Hooks urged that the Police Chief to be informed that the cars of customers of restaurants and bars are being parked in the CMHA Riverview Towers’ parking lot. “They are taking over our parking lot at night and nothing is being done about it. They should not be allowed to come over here and park.”
Several residents described how their parking places are, often, taken by cars from the patrons of local businesses and they are forced to park on the street, where their cars are being ticketed. One African American Riverview resident believed that police were targeting residents for ticketing because of the color of their skin. One white Riverview resident refuted that assumption by saying that police have ticketed him as well.
Another resident said he spotted valet parking attendants from area businesses parking cars in the Riverview parking lot. He said he called CMHA police, and the “officers took control.”
Although they don’t want patrons of the bars and restaurants to be parking at Riverview, residents said they would like to be able to have their guests park in the lot without fear of having their cars towed. One resident said it was unfair not to have guest passes for their guests to park in the lot. They said their guests won’t visit them if their cars are going to be towed.
Another resident urged more police patrolling at night, citing a lot of car alarms going off. The bicycle box sitting in the street on W. 25th and Bridge was talked about as an obstacle that creates a dangerous situation because it obstructs the views of drivers trying to enter and exit the street.
Councilman McCormack, who arrived late at the meeting, introduced himself to residents. He offered a little bit of his background. He said he grew up on the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland. He attended college at Miami University of Ohio. Taught English in Spain. Worked on the Senate campaign for Sherrod Brown and worked for Ohio City Incorporated for the past three years as a community organizer. He said when Councilman Joe Cimperman left to take a job at Global Cleveland, he was appointed to take his place. He said on “April 4th City Council voted me in.”
McCormack urged residents to “reach out to me and call my office with any concerns.” He promised to take care of their concerns “or find someone who will.” He expressed concern about quality of life issues in the ward, and promised to be “fully accessible to everyone.” He described the boundaries of Ward 3 as including most of downtown from E. 12th going westward through Ohio City to roughly W. 50; most of Tremont; and south to an area by Clark Avenue.
After hearing some of the Riverview residents’ concerns about traffic on W. 25th, McCormack said “Maybe some enforcement,” would help. He also gave residents the phone number for the Cleveland Police Community Service unit: 216-664-2691. McCormack said if residents see evidence of racial discrimination by Cleveland Police when giving tickets to call his office and report it.
Riverview resident Dwight Hooks talked to Councilman McCormack about his desire to see the talent of residents of Riverview being utilized better by the surrounding businesses and community organizations. He asked, “What can we do? What can we be involved in?” He talked about Station Hope involving people from the community in acting and theatre and called for more opportunities like that to utilize the talents of Riverview residents.
Some programs in the neighborhood that are more inclusive were discussed including Near West Recreation which includes children from all over the Near West Side in programs such as T-Ball, Basketball, soccer, bowling and creative writing. OCI’s Henton talked about the exercise room at Riverview, which, she said, had received a Neighborhood Connections grant for more equipment. Henton also talked about opportunities to get involved with Lutheran Hospital’s annual fair and a neighborhood, walking club.
Cynthia Triplett called for an effort to help a local yoga studio to qualify for the Silver Sneakers program so residents could participate in yoga classes at a greatly reduced cost.
Residents called for more programs for seniors. One resident wanted more activities for seniors that are in wheelchairs and have difficulty using the exercise room at Riverview.
Riverview residents also brought up the potential impact of the Regional Transit Authority’s (RTA) proposed rate hikes and route cuts on their ability to get around. McCormack talked about his opposition to a proposal by RTA to cut Route 81 loops through Lakeview and Tremont Pointe. He said his office is working collaboratively with RTA to keep the two stops on the route for the 81 bus. He called this effort, “a moral issue.”
One resident asked McCormack to address a rumor that some individuals are pushing Ohio City Incorporated to “get rid of us.” In response to this, McCormack said, “I assure you. It is not going to happen.” He noted Riverview is owned by the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority and there is strong backing for having a diverse neighborhood with a variety of housing.
Editor’s Note: Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack can be contacted by email at Kmccormack@clevelandcitycouncil.org or by phone at 216-664-2691. OCI Community Organizer Destinee Henton can be contacted by email at email@example.com or by phone at 216-781-3222.