Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Prayers for Roldo, Patron Saint of Civic Participation

I received word from Roldo Bartimole recently that he's having yet his latest bout of chest pains. He's due to have an angiogram later this week, so please say a quick prayer for the continued good health of our town's living embodiment of free speech and citizen participation. The lonely path he's carved for himself, the only one his conscience would allow, has helped lead the way to at least three heart attacks (at least that's what he admits to) over the years. And the fact that he now qualifies for Medicare hasn't seemed to slow his righteous pen much (he reports that "I'm having almost too much fun with the convention center. It's like batting practice.") Anyway, I hope you'll join me in wishing him rosy health. Better yet, why not drop him a quick note to let him know you're thinking of him? His email address is pointofview@stratos.net. Sorry to invade your privacy this way, Roldo, but I know lots people would want to know...

And speaking of civic participation, there are some key events this week and next that I would suggest ought to be on your radar screen. RTA is due to hold information meeting for the public today (downtown), tomorrow (East Cleveland) and Thursday (Midtown Corridor) on the controversial Euclid Corridor Project. Check times and details here. At a quarter-billion dollars, it's the biggest public transit project in Cleveland history, and preliminary work replacing ancient water and sewer lines is due to begin this fall. All the federal dollars raining down on this project helped create this handsome and comprehensive project website and may soon yield these futuristic-looking buses on the route. But will the money be spent wisely? Why not show up and judge for yourself? And as a tool to aid in deciding if these meetings are purely p.r. smoke screens or honest attempts to solicit public input, take this handy tool along with you. It's written by Genevieve Ray, a battle-hardened veteran of the local historic preservation wars, and provided as a public service by David Beach's EcoCity Cleveland. No word yet on plans for wi-fi access along the route, but perhaps Steve and Sandy will show up and advocate on its behalf. And please, don't mention this project to Roldo. That would give him a massive coronary attack for sure.

Next Up: Session on Merging Artistic and Civic Vision. Next week, CSU's College of Urban Affairs hosts a day-long conference on Sept. 4th entitled "Merging an Artistic and Civic Vision: Law, the Arts and Urban Planning." The fee is a reasonable $35, and information and registration are available here. It's almost guaranteed to be a particularly yeasty environment after the convention center crash & burn, which took the Artsies In Support of Going On the Public Teat down with it (And note to CPforA&C: you'd be well-advised to get a more-forceful, more-articulate spokesperson than that meek young woman Julie Adrianopoli who feebly tried to raise the flag for the arts tax on WCPN's After Nine a couple of weeks ago. I'd say she didn't merely fail to win new converts, but she might have lost a few true believers. While I don't buy what he's selling, at least Tom Schorgl makes a forceful case). And will the conversation, agenda and speakers be subtly infected by the fact that it's partly underwritten by the Forest City-endowed Ruth Ratner Miller Center for Greater Cleveland's Future? Don't know. As Fox News would say, we report, you decide...Meanwhile, though, why doesn't someone check out the persistent rumor that Mayor Jane's hubby, longtime city planning director Hunter Morrison, will also be the beneficiary of a Forest City-bankrolled academic perch in the not-too-distant future. Did I say rumor? I meant formless, wafting thing that people tend to repeat, absent evidence. But knowing how Sam Miller & Co. operate renders it a little more believable...

Get Your Vote in on Bike Rack Locations. And as long as we're on the subject of citizen participation in planning, I hereby propose a test. Why not send along this page to anyone you know who uses their bicycles in Cleveland proper and ask them to consider acting on it. The city planning department seems to be seeking our input on where to locate 500 bike racks this year, so why not take them up on it?

Cleveland's Unused Architectural Gem. Finally, I have an idea on where Thomas Mulready might consider locating his next Art/Tech/Dance event. As the son of an architect and incorrigible lover of wondrous old buildings, I'd say the old Cleveland Trust Rotunda, closed to the public for nearly a decade and two years shy of its 100-year birthday, is the obvious candidate. It's said to be undergoing asbestos removal, and I think it's still owned by the Jacobs Group (which has been steadily unloading its real estate portfolio), so it might take some serious political juice along with plenty of luck to get it done. Then again, maybe T can plan a big blowout there for the building's centennary, with Willard Scott doing emcee duties...


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