(Editor's Note: This is the second in a two-part series covering the State of the City address delivered Thursday by Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks, during a luncheon at the Cleveland Kiwanis …
(Editor's Note: This is the second in a two-part series covering the State of the City address delivered Thursday by Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks, during a luncheon at the Cleveland Kiwanis Club.
In the second half of Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks' State of City address, the mayor discussed downtown Cleveland's future and revitalization, stating that the "vision ... is to create a livable downtown of distinct neighborhoods connected by walkable and strong infrastructure."
In addition, the mayor spoke about quality of life, accolades for the city and city staffing.
Brooks said downtown’s future and revitalization was determined to be a priority based on a community survey in 2017.
"I’m proud to be a part of the ongoing process to redevelop downtown and help prepare our community for the anticipated growth," Brooks said.
Brooks said the city had contracted with a consulting firm, WSP, last year to create a master plan for downtown redevelopment.
"As a part of this process, a series of charrettes, or focus groups were held in late summer of 2018 to allow stakeholders in our downtown community and city, the opportunity to provide feedback and discussion for what they would like to see in downtown Cleveland."
Brooks said the master plan will include improvements to downtown corridors, including a street design concept and visualization for Inman Street, with streetscape designs consisting of "replicable designs and patterns to create a coordinated aesthetically pleasing vibe downtown."
In addition, Brooks discussed plans to connect the Greenway to downtown; determine "future land scenarios and market conditions"; and consider a downtown parking and transportation study.
Brooks discussed Whirlpool's plan to raze a former plant downtown to help make way for downtown revitalization.
"Whirlpool is also playing a major role in our downtown’s revitalization," Brooks said. "In September 2018, the company announced they would begin removal of their first facility, Plant No. 1."
The mayor also discussed the future of the historic Cherokee Hotel/Cleveland Summit building, also located downtown.
Last year, the Cleveland Health and Educational Facilities Board approved the issuance in $4.5 million in multi-family housing revenue bonds to fund construction of the new facility for the residents who currently reside at the hotel.
"This new facility will give those residents a higher quality of facility," Brooks said.
In addition, Brooks said a Payment in Lieu of Taxes program will help spur development downtown.
Brooks said rehabilitation projects and new construction are eligible under the downtown PILOT program.
Brooks discussed the importance of infrastructure — a subject that was highly discussed during the mayoral campaign — and listed several upcoming projects that will relieve congestion, as well repave roads more often.
"In October 2018, the city accepted bids for the Georgetown Road and 25th Street Widening Project," Brooks said. "This project will help alleviate some of the major congestion at this intersection where traffic bottlenecks."
Brooks said the paving cycle will be reduced from 27.5 years to approximately 20 years.
"Many neighborhoods roads that have not been paved in 30 years finally were paved," Brooks said.
Brooks also said a much-anticipated road project to relieve flooding problems on Candies Lane will begin in mid-2019.
Quality of life
Brooks said he was proud of what has been accomplished and is looking forward to more improvements in 2019.
"In July 2018, the city completed the Casteel Connector, a 1.2-mile extension of the greenway which connects the North Ocoee Street neighborhoods to Tinsley Park and the Cleveland Greenway."
He also said the long-awaited Tinsley Park Tennis Complex construction project will be completed and opened soon.
"It’s a been a long wait, but worth it," Brooks said. "This will be a tremendous asset for the community."
Renovations are also currently underway at Deer Park.
"Once completed, Deer Park will have top-of-the-line equipment made from glass fiber reinforced concrete," Brooks said. "Not only is it safer for our children, but will also last much longer.
Brooks also said a Civitan All-Inclusive park was also renovated in 2018, featuring ADA compliant sidewalks, a new restroom, and picnic pavilions.
In addition, Brooks said a new parks and recreation facility began construction in November 2018 behind Blythe-Bower Elementary School.
"This new parks facility will feature a sidewalk loop ... shade tree coverage, a picnic pavilion and a regulation size soccer field as a part of Phase I," Brooks said.
Brooks added that Phase II will include a second soccer field.
Brooks said the city continues to attract positive attention in many ways:
• Cleveland was featured in an April 2018 edition of Business View Magazine on best municipal practices.
• Cleveland received its 20th consecutive Government Financial Officers Association award for its budget.
• Cleveland was designated as a Road Runner of America Club city and will host the Southern Region Half Marathon Championship on August 24.
• The Cleveland Police Department received its fourth accreditation award from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The CPD achieved the highest award advance accreditation with excellence, the Gold Standard Assessment.
"This voluntary assessment format focuses primarily on processes and outcomes associated with standards specific to agency policies," Brooks said.
It was the first time the CPD had participated in the GSA process.
"The department was found to comply on 97 percent of the other than mandatory standards and 100 percent of the applicable mandatory standards," Brooks said.
• Cleveland Risk Manager Kimberly Spence was selected as the 2018 Risk Manager of the Year by the Tennessee Public Risk Management Association.
"This award recognizes an individual who exemplifies excellence, innovation, and commitment to the risk management profession," Brooks said.
• CPD Sergeant Evie West graduated from the Southeastern Leadership Academy.
"She was voted among her peers to be the class president and received the Leadership Award," Brooks said.
• Mars Petcare has welcomed Downtown Cleveland, Tennessee to participate in its Better Cities for Pets™ program, and partnered with our city to make our shelters, homes and businesses more pet-friendly, according to Brooks.
• CPD's Havana Video received over 1 million views during the lip sync challenge, ranking it as one of the top ten lip sync challenge videos in the nation.
• Cleveland Finance Office Deputy Clerk Lindsey Hawkins spearheaded the first ever Reverse Advent Calendar for the city of Cleveland, to collect food items for the Harbor Safe House which provides shelter and resources to victims of domestic violence and assault, Brooks said.
"Thanks to the generosity of scores of Cleveland residents, we gathered two car loads of donated food," Brooks said.
Brooks said the city has a remarkable workforce, stating that he routinely receives compliments about city employees who "go beyond their call of duty to serve our residents."
"Our city family are truly dedicated public servants," Brooks said.
Brooks also thanked City Manager Joe Fivas, Assistant City Manager Melinda Carrol and Assistant City Manager Shawn McKay for their "diligent work and leadership."
"For their guidance, it helps keeps the city council and myself on the this positive track forward from making Cleveland good to making Cleveland great," Brooks said.
Concluding, Brooks said Cleveland is truly "The City With Spirit."
"A spirit of faith, compassion, enterprise, hard work, learning and so much more," Brooks said. "That's why more people want to live, work and play here, raise a family here, start a business here and more and more are choosing to retire here."
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