Municipal projects seeking to 're-imagine' recreation

By TIM SINIARD
Posted 7/30/18

Cleveland has embarked on several ambitious projects throughout the city in an effort to “re-imagine” the functionality of its parks and recreation venues, reflecting the city’s commitment to …

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Municipal projects seeking to 're-imagine' recreation

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Cleveland has embarked on several ambitious projects throughout the city in an effort to “re-imagine” the functionality of its parks and recreation venues, reflecting the city’s commitment to improving services and the quality of life of city residents.

During a presentation recently made to members of the Cleveland City Council, and one which is now being repeated in addresses to various civic groups and other organizations, City Manager Joe Fivas explains the focus is on achieving certain outlined goal: the construction of Candy’s Creek Cherokee Elementary School, construction of Fire Station No. 6, funding to hire more police officers, increasing road paving cycles from 27.5 years to approximately 20 years, improvements to key traffic congestion and intersections, funding for downtown redevelopment and implementation of a compensation plan – was coming to fruition. 

“The council laid out seven goals,” Fivas told the Cleveland Daily Banner. “We’re about 95 percent done, thanks to the community and the city council.”

The current and future projects, Fivas said, will include parks, recreation services, sports tourism efforts and facilities. He said the efforts to re-imagine Blythe-Oldfield Park has been completed, with Deer Park as well as Blythe-Bower Park next on the project list.

“Blythe-Oldfield is 100 percent complete,” Fivas said. 

He also said the park’s improvements have generated excitement among area residents.

“There’s lots of energy there,” Fivas said.

Work on Blythe-Bower Park has already begun. Fivas said the park will feature two dog play areas — one for large dogs and one for small dogs — if the council chooses to approve a grant that will provide funds to construct the play areas. In addition, the park project will include a large green space, as well as walking trails.

Perhaps the city’s most visionary project will center on developing and implementing a thematic design for Deer Park, where children can enjoy a “backyard experience” consisting of experiencing nature up close.

According to Fivas, research shows that children will “spend more time in a natural area than a standard park playground,” providing opportunities for kids to roam freely and encounter natural elements such as hills, rocks, trees and logs.

“It will give them a sense of being in the woods,” Fivas said.

The park will also feature a small, rock-lined natural stream where children can observe nature. However, Fivas said the stream presents some safety challenges.

“We need to do this safely,” said Fivas, who added that the city will need to work with regulators to ensure all safety measures at the stream are considered.

The construction timeline for Deer Park will consist of closing the area on Labor Day to begin building infrastructure and installing new equipment.  Organizing a community build day in October and re-opening the park in November are also on the docket.

“Our intention is for it to be a destination place for the next 50 years,” Fivas said.

The construction of a pickleball complex at Tinsley Park is planned for spring 2019, pending city council approval. Fivas said the city has already received $50,000 in grant funding for the courts at Deer Park. However, Fivas suggested the council consider moving the planned project to Tinsley Park where eight courts can be put in, potentially serving as a location for organized tournaments and the like.

“They will be able to have leagues and tournaments there,” Fivas said.

Planning Commission staff also plans to present a sports tourism and parks comprehensive plan to the city council to bring the city in line with other communities where investments have generated sales tax revenues.

Construction of the planned Taylor’s Spring Park will begin after bids have been approved by Aug. 1. Fivas said it is the “right time to get started” and that “lots of people have donated money for the project.” In addition, the park will be connected to the Greenway.

Other projects listed as contributing to Cleveland’s quality of life include the Tinsley Park Tennis Complex, the Public Safety Training Center, Stuart School Park, and the Casteel Greenway Connector.

Fivas said the Casteel Greenway Connector is 95 percent complete, with a grand opening scheduled for July 31.

“The official opening is at 10 a.m.,” Fivas told the council members.

The city will also embark on 13 projects to ease traffic congestion – an investment of $10.3 million of which the city will contribute $3 million. The remainder will be reimbursed by the state.

“Every dollar we spend, we get three from the state,” Fivas said.

The road projects are:

• Georgetown Road and 25th Street intersection: Fivas said the intersection-widening project is “ready to go.”

• Peerless Road and 25th Street intersection: Fivas said the city-funded project will begin in fall.

• Norman Chapel Road and Adkisson Drive: Construction is planned to start during the summer.

• Mouse Creek Road and Paul Huff intersection: Fivas said the city is awaiting environmental permits.

• Peerless Connector: Fivas said discussion is needed regarding how to join the connector to Mouse Creek Road.

• Frontage Road Connector: Fivas said the project has been approved and will begin in fall.

• 20th Street and 17th Street sidewalk: Fivas said the project, which began in winter, is 75 percent complete and will be finished by Sept. 1.

• Central Avenue streetscape: Fivas said the design is almost complete and the project will begin after rights of way are resolved. 

• 20th Street bridge project: Fivas said the project will be paid 100 percent by state funds.

• Dalton Pike sidewalk: The city is currently obtaining rights-of-way with construction planned for spring.

• 25th Street Streetscape: Construction to raise curbs planned to begin in spring.

• Candies Creek Road: Work to raise road height and redirect storm water is scheduled to begin in spring.

• LIC North: Fivas said the project is “on the cusp of moving forward” after rights-of-way issues have been resolved. He said the project funding mix will consist of 50 percent in state funds, 25 percent in county funds and 25 percent in city funds.

• In addition, the project list for downtown consists of improvements in the Central Square Redevelopment Area:

• Central Avenue Streetscape: The project is scheduled to begin in the spring.

• Transportation Center (parking area): The project is projected to begin next summer.

• Flower baskets and Streetscape on Parker Street, Edwards Street and Church Street: Construction is planned to begin in 2019.


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