Letters to the Editor

Politicians blamed for the city’s plight

To the Editor: (Plain Press May 2007) I was born in l947 and grew up on West 18th Street off  Auburn Avenue.  It was a great life.  I took accordion lessons at Master Music, dancing lessons at Miss Ampston’s Dance Studio, and went to St. Michael’s grade school.

Everything changed in 1957 when my parents did the suburban flight out of Cleveland and moved to Parma.  I didn’t want to leave my best friend, Donna Smith.  Why did my parents have to move anyway?  After the Second World War, people wanted more out of life, bigger & newer homes, big cars and more land.

Then there were rumors of a freeway coming through our neighborhood. So my wonderful Westside neighborhood saw its first mass exodus of hard-working residents. From Interstate I-90 to Interstate 71 many residents of the area that is today Ward 13 and Ward 14 were simply forced out of their homes.  Many cried like I did. I moved back in 1975 after I got married.

Over the years the expansion of MetroHealth, the old City Hospital, forced many more residents out of our area.  Like me, many didn’t want to move.  Residents had no choice.

Then along came busing. This time residents had a choice. Put their young children on a bus and send them off to a neighborhood and school they knew nothing about or move out of the City.  How many more families left our Westside neighborhood?  What a tragedy.

After the freeways, expansions, busing and urban flight, what was left? Residents who couldn’t afford to move, residents who couldn’t afford to keep their properties up and residents who were concerned about putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads more than anything else.

I blame the politicians. They put in the freeways. Wasn’t it a judge that decided our schools were segregated? As properties became vacant, who decided to sell land for a $1.00, or very cheaply to private individuals who took advantage of an opportunity to hopefully make money on future development. There was NO vision for our future.  Who ruined our schools?  It certainly wasn’t the residents.

The City of Cleveland is in the mess that it’s in because of lack of vision and lack of leadership. What kind of leadership would let two different Councilmen give their discretionary funds to one organization and none to one that serves some of the neediest residents?  How could this happen? Who made the decision to move the Department of Family Services out of our convenient neighborhood? You can’t blame Clark-Metro Development Corporation for decisions made at City Hall.

Mayor Frank Jackson, Council President Martin Sweeney and County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, where is your leadership?  Now you want to raise my water and sewer bills and put another levy to us voters for the schools. Why should I give you any more of my hard earned money? I have to make do with the income I have and I suggest you do the same.

If you want people to stay in Cleveland, make it easy for businesses to operate in Cleveland, decrease my taxes and give me more money to spend, make our streets safe and most of all make it a priority to improve our schools. The freeways forever changed the physical dynamics of the neighborhood I grew up in and love so much. We can’t take that back. We’ll never get back all the residents that were forced out.  For Cleveland to survive, it CAN’T be business as usual.  Unless we get strong leaders who are willing to put politics aside and do what is right for the citizens of Cleveland, I see another mass exodus coming. WHAT WILL BE LEFT?  Think about it.

Chris Dunn
Ward 14 Resident

 

Community Development Block Grant distribution merits Plain Press scrutiny

To the editor: (Plain Press May 2007) I would encourage your paper to do a comparison of some of the local Community Development Corporations on the Westside of Cleveland. It has come to my attention that several CDC’s have received upwards of close to $400,000 a year for several years in federal CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funding: in other words, our tax dollars. On the other hand, Clark-Metro received zero dollars in 2006-07, and only $60,000 in prior years.

If this is fairly accurate, I certainly can understand why Tremont West Development Corp. and Detroit-Shoreway Development Corp. have stood out above the rest and met the City of Cleveland’s Community Development Department’s criteria and new grading system. It is my understanding that each CDC can acquire these federal funds from several sources within the City of Cleveland governmental system.

First, each CDC can apply for CDBG money (non-discretional) directly from the City of Cleveland Community Development Department, which in the past averaged between $60,000 and $70,00 per year.

Secondarily, CDC’s can receive funding from more than one City of Cleveland Council members. In Cleveland CDC territories that cross Council Ward boundaries, each Cleveland City Councilperson has $400,000 per year (Discretionary-CDBG) to allocate where they see fit. Some Council members give close to all of the funds to one CDC.

This is an arbitrary and biased approach to disperse Federal tax dollars back into our neighborhoods, and discriminates against the people this Federal funding is targeted to assist.

Instead, money is being funneled to fuel planning for gated suburban-style communities in Tremont and Detroit-Shoreway.

We need to take the politics out of distributing this funding. I am sure Mayor Jackson would never let this happen on the East Side; please enact legislation to stop this discrimination.

Why is there such a glaring disparity? Long-term residents of Ward 14 deserve better.

We commend Councilman Joe Santiago’s commitment to pledge $60,000 in future funding from his discretionary funding. Councilman Santiago, what is the timeframe within which  Clark-Metro Development Corporation can expect to receive this funding? The funding is needed yesterday!

Councilman Santiago, we would ask that you lobby the City of Cleveland Administration to restore their portion of funding (non-discretionary) to our CDC. This $60,000 you have pledged is just a booster shot. Councilman Santiago, Ward 14 is in dire need of leadership. Clark-Metro Development Corp. deserves just as much funding from you as Tremont and Stockyards.

Please, Councilman Santiago, step up to the plate and hit a grand slam for the constituents you represent in Ward 14. We feel all Council people should have a vested interest to help any and all neighborhoods stay ahead of the curve, and meet the pressing needs of our community.

Rebecca Kempton
Clark Metro neighborhood

 

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