RTA opens W. 65th/Lorain/EcoVillage Rapid Station
nation’s 1st “green” station

by Chuck Hoven

(Plain Press, October 2004) Over 150 people gathered at the new West 65 th/Lorain/EcoVillage Rapid Station to celebrate its grand opening on Tuesday September 21 st, 2004 . The new RTA station is believed to be the first “green-built” rapid transit station in the nation and perhaps the only one of its kind in the world.

The result of a collaborative effort by neighborhood residents working with planners from EcoVillage, Detroit-Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) and the Regional Transit Authority (RTA), the station has many environmentally friendly features and construction materials. The $4 million “green-built” station is considered a centerpiece of EcoVillage, the neighborhood within a five-minute walk of the station.

Welcoming the investment to the neighborhood, DSCDO Executive Director Jeff Ramsey noted that over 150 people gathered at a community meeting seven years ago when RTA was considering closing the W. 65 th station to tell RTA, “we want our rapid station.” Ramsey recalled that RTA spokesperson Rosemary Covington said then that the turnout was the largest turnout RTA ever had at a community meeting.

Ramsey said RTA responded to the community’s call to save the station. He praised RTA architect John Goodworth for incorporating community ideas and concerns into the design of the new station. Ramsey presented a framed poster of the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood to Goodworth in appreciation.

The new station is designed to be a community gathering place as well as a rapid stop. The lobby of the station on the Lorain Avenue side features Cleveland art tile scenes created by West Side artist Gregory Aliberti. Plenty of natural light pours into the large lobby from the large glass windows facing Lorain Avenue .

The area features benches and tables. There is a room off the lobby for a RTA police station. Through another set of doors one can access restroom facilities. Outdoor areas around the perimeter of the building offer elevated views of the city and the wooded area surrounding the tracks. An empty room at the front of the station is designed to hold a small retail or food establishment. Offering another gathering spot are comfortable benches, per the suggestion of neighborhood residents, that are made from old tires covered with concrete.

The station is handicapped accessible and has elevator access to the rapid platform below. There is a narrow stairs that leads to the tracks below. Like the former station, area residents approaching on Madison from the W. 58 th Street side can access the station by taking a pedestrian bridge over the tracks. Residents can still access the platform down a staircase from the W. 65 th Street side of Madison Avenue. The bridge over the tracks on Madison Avenue remains closed to vehicle access. (Ward 17 Councilman Matt Zone says the bridge is not scheduled for repairs until at least 2007.) The platform below is well lit, and has a number of special call boxes for emergencies.

On the Lorain Avenue side of the station, parking is available along W. 61 st Street . A vacant lot owned by RTA east of W. 61 st Street holds promise to be developed as a small retail plaza. Goodworth says the station is designed to accommodate a neighborhood circulator bus. RTA also welcomes bicyclists to take their bikes on the rapid. Several bars for locking bikes are located outside the station.

Sr. Ann Kilbane of St. Colman’s Church opened the ceremonies with a prayer asking that the new station “bring prosperity to area businesses.” She gently reminded those present that they could attend Mass at St. Colman’s Church on St. Patrick’s Day and then take the rapid to the parade downtown.

RTA General Manager Joseph A. Calabrese urged those present to ride the rapid transit and noted that “for $3 a day, you can ride anywhere on RTA.”

Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell praised David Beach of EcoCity Cleveland, calling him “the environmental conscience of Cleveland .” She said Beach served as a reminder of the importance of people choosing to intentionally use transit in addition to using recycled materials and energy-saving and environmentally-friendly solutions in new developments. Campbell said the W. 65 th station was the first green rapid station in the nation.

David Beach of EcoCity Cleveland said that projects such as the new station could help Clevelanders create “a cleaner, greener, more socially just and economically prosperous city.” Beach noted that EcoCity is working to demonstrate how cities can be developed in a new way. EcoCity Cleveland formed a partnership with Detroit-Shoreway Community Development Organization to create the EcoVillage.

Many members of EcoCity Cleveland were in attendance at the opening ceremony, which doubled as EcoCity Cleveland’s annual picnic and awards ceremony. RTA was one of the award recipients, honored for their role in creating the new green-built station.

Beach praised the memory of the first EcoVillage Director David Cornicelli, under whose direction the EcoVillage began coordination of planning efforts with RTA. The new station contains a plaque in Cornicelli’s memory. RTA General Manager Calabrese said the new station also has a plaque in the memory of the late RTA Community Projects Director Debbie Fox, who was also instrumental in coordinating efforts for planning the new station.

Ward 17 Councilman Matt Zone called the collaboration between RTA and community residents an “extraordinary process.” Zone praised residents for their role in planning the station and bringing up many issues that needed addressing. He noted that volunteers recently gathered to paint the fence along the pedestrian walkway over the tracks. Zone praised RTA as a wonderful partner and noted the commitment and countless hours devoted to the project by RTA architect Goodworth. Zone praised the efforts of the three directors EcoVillage has had since its inception: the late Cornicelli, David Rowe and current director Mandy Metcalf.

As part of the continuing celebration of the new station’s opening, EcoVillage is planning a West Side Market Tour via the rapid on Saturday, October 16 th. Those interested in joining the tour should call Mandy Metcalf at Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, 961-4242. Tour participants will meet in the new station’s community room at 9 a.m. for coffee and juice. Following a brief presentation, they will be provided free passes to take the rapid and shop on their own at the West Side Market.

 

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