Avon Growth News, 12-17-00 to 2-16-01

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12-14-00 Avon buys land from ODOT
12-20-00 Letters to Santa
1-24-01 Law Firm Building
2-4-01 Ethics
2-8-01 Planning Commission: Avon Commons, New School
2-16-01 Could commuter rail service affect Avon's Master Thoroughfare Plan?


"I'll take the sprawl

The loss of perspective is not a surprise (Interview, July 19, 2000). The previous social critics (prominently, Lincoln Steffens), addressing issues of population density, decried "The Shame of the Cities" for their squalor and sardine-like overcrowding, describing them as soulless and dehumanizing.

In the years since, Americans have fulfilled Steffens' enlightened vision, creating suburbs with lawns and trees, space to breathe, and for kids to play.

The social critics of today, such as Josh Greene, decry this as "vicious sprawl." Given the choice, I'll take Greene's "vicious sprawl" over ... tenements any day. Better yet, he can buy my property in St. Hyacinthe, with the back yard depth of four feet, and the side yard width of three feet.

Forget not, also, what the farmers did to arrive at their agrarian splendor -- they destroyed the forests ..."

Mike Kole, Cleveland

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM, 12-14-00, By Kristin Yarbrough

`` Avon land purchase may be used for fire station

AVON-- The city might use nearly 15 acres recently purchased from the Ohio Department of Transportation to build a new fire station, Mayor Jim Smith said.

The purchase of 14.85 acres near the intersection of state Route 83 and Detroit Road was completed Wednesday, Smith said, paying the appraised price of $273,500 ...

The property, which will have street access on the south side of Detroit Road, forks around Our Lady of the Wayside's Curiosity Shoppe and a nearby house, Smith said ...

In the recent past, ODOT began selling idle land it purchased decades ago for projects that were never completed, said Tom O'Leary, deputy director of ODOT District 3.

ODOT acquired the land Avon bought in 1972 in hopes of straightening state Route 83 ...

"They're operating it like a business now," Smith said.

Avon might purchase another 4.5-acre parcel across the street from the newly bought property as soon as ODOT has it appraised, Smith said. ''

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THE PRESS, December 20, 2000

"Letters to Santa

Dear Santa, It has been a year since my last letter to you. There are only a few things I would like for Christmas this year.

First, I would like more large factories to locate in Avon's industrial area to add to the great companies we already have.

Second, I would like my bald head to be covered with hair.

I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

Sincerely, Avon Mayor Jim Smith

Dear Santa: I recall December of `98 when you delivered 80 percent of what I was asking for, thanks again, it's a gift that keeps on giving.

Anyway, this December [2000] is a bit calmer and my list isn't as hard to deliver. Here's what I'm hoping for:

Sincerely, Jack Kilroy Ward 4 Councilman, Avon

Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is:

Shaun Brady Avon Council President"

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE PRESS, 1-24-01, By Mike Ferrari

"Lorain's largest law firm of Wickens, Herzer, Panza, Cook and Batista is within 45 days of breaking ground on their new Chester Road location in Avon.

The 16 partners involved with the architectural work have finally agreed on a design and are moving forward with plans to optimistically occupy the building by January 1, 2002.

The three-story, 30,000 square-foot office complex will house close to 25 attorneys and 15 paralegals. In total, the building will hold up to 75 employees when construction is completed.

The move is allowing the firm to double in size and make good on a contractual agreement that was in place when the firm merged with Cook and Batista two years ago ...

According to attorney Matt Nakon, spokesman and vice president for the merged law firm, highway and freeway access was a priority for the newly formed partnership ...

The new building will be in view of passing traffic on I-90 being located directly behind the new Avon Commons being built by First Interstate ...

The architectural firm of Davidson, Smith and Certo, along with developer Paul Pustay and internal personnel within the firm all contributed on the exterior design.

``We are very pleased with the appearance of the building,'' Pustay said. ``We are very happy that our client is happy and we look forward to starting construction as soon as possible.''

Avon Mayor Jim Smith said he is also pleased with the buildings design and is looking forward to having the firm being part of the community.

``The design of this building is incredible,'' Smith said. ``I am eagerly anticipating the completion of the new office. It will be a welcomed addition to our community.'' "

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"Greed or good sense? Public servants learn ethics

The county prosecutor gave an ethics seminar for public officials recently and more than 400 people showed up.

Mayors, township trustees, police, zoning board members, councilmen, and school board members spent a good part of a day listening to the executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission explain the law to them ...

A persistent number of depressing examples have surfaced locally in the last several years and the lessons are hard ones to learn.

-- Edward Krystowski was an Avon councilman and a respected businessman in Wellington. Business profit intersected with public policy in his life. He found himself in court, his political career over. It seemed to happen so carelessly, so thoughtlessly.

-- Vince Urbin, too, is in court as this is being written. The Avon Lake mayor's family ties and spending questions led to a criminal indictment. Here, it was the pettiness and then the panic that stood out.

-- And Bill Ruth's blatantly criminal activity as the superintendent of the Joint Vocational School gave everyone great pause. Where's the next step that can unleash the greed and deception?

... temptation can land you in an awkward situation.

Mayor Jim Smith of Avon, a community being wooed by big time developers, understands this. Smith recently refused a package of steaks from a development company. His theory is first steaks, then tickets to a Tribe game and dinner after, and, before long you're spending a long weekend in a Caribbean cottage for free ...

Public ethics has to do with public trust and public money. Warning signals should automatically go off for public officials when family gets involved or when public issues start to have an effect personally.

Greg White summed it up perfectly.

''Pay your own freight. Then you'll never have to worry.'' "

John G. Cole is editor of The Morning Journal. His e-mail address is jcole@morningjournal.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM, 2-8-01, By Melissa Dittmann

"Avon Commons owner gets rezone permission

AVON -- The owner of the Avon Commons shopping center received approval from the Planning Commission on Wednesday [2-7-01] to rezone more than 17 additional acres for the commercial development.

The 17.7 acres will be used to locate one more retailer to add to the already-approved 85-acre shopping center, said Mitchell Schneider, president of First Interstate Development Co.

Planning Commission members approved the rezoning change from residential to commercial use. The issue will next go before Council ...

The first store for Avon Commons ** Target ** is set to open March 1. The complex is located near the intersection of Detroit Road and State Route 83. Schneider said that 95 percent of the stores would be open by June 1 [2001].

The complex is to include two department stores, eight fashion stores, five restaurants, two grocery stores and 13 additional retailers ...

In other business, the Planning Commission approved site plans for a new elementary school for Avon city schools.

The architect for the project, Daniel Obrynba, said that bids for the project would begin being accepted Feb. 28 and they expect construction to take about 14-15 months. He said the school should be ready to open by August 2002.

The 68,000 square-foot school on Detroit Road, east of Avon Commons, is designed to hold about 450 students. An $8 million levy, passed in November 1999, will fund the project.

A sewer that was constructed in 1997 by developer Joe Scaletta is to provide service to the school. The sewer, which has since been dedicated to the city, was originally set to only service Scaletta's eventual 349-home development, Avenbury Lakes, and Avon Commons.

Since that time, several other entities have also tapped in, leaving Scaletta concerned on whether the sewer has the capacity to now also service the school ...

Gar Downing, consulting engineer for the Planning Commission, said there was enough capacity to also service the school with the sewer.

Scaletta also said he was concerned over being responsible for the maintenance until 2005 of the sewer now that all the other entities have tapped in. Planning Commission members said they would be evaluating a modification to the sub-dividers agreement for the maintenance."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE TELEGRAM, 2-02-01, By Melissa Dittman

"AVON - ... The Planning Commission voted Wednesday [1-31-01] to make a recommendation to Council that the city's Master Thoroughfare Plan needs to be ... studied and a consultant needs to be hired ...

Council will be discussing the recommendation at its meeting Monday [2-5-01] ...

With two differing traffic studies [one approved by USR who was paid by the City of Avon and the other, also by USR, paid for by Jacobs], [Avon Planning Commission Chairman James] Piazza said it's time the city hires its own consultant ..."


``AVON -- ... [Planning] Commission member Paul Burik ... The money would be used to hire a consultant who would work with the city to develop the parameters of a thoroughfare review, Burik said ...

Commission chairman Jim Piazza concurred with Burik. "We need to hire an expert, a traffic engineer, to help us with the scope ..." ''

NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAl, 2-14-01, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"LORAIN -- A public hearing ... [2-15-01] at 7 p.m. will give residents a chance to learn about a commuter rail line planned from Lorain to Cleveland to Mantua ...

''If we show community support for it, that sends a clear message to the folks in Cleveland that Lorain is very interested,'' said Rick Novak, executive director of the Lorain Port Authority ...

Novak and Mayor Craig Foltin said they want to see the rail line become a reality ...

Foltin said, ''It would definitely help from the home ownership standpoint. It would make it much more convenient for people who work in Cleveland to live in Lorain.''

The meeting at Clearview High School on North Ridge Road will provide more information about the project.

The $300 million Lorain-Cleveland-Mantua line has already been selected as the first phase project.

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency envisions local stops in Sheffield, Avon, Westlake/Bay Village, Rocky River and Lakewood, as well as a number in Cleveland.

Despite Lorain's spot at the top of the list, the project is not a done deal. NOACA now must determine whether to commit to the project. A second feasibility study is to be finished by spring.

''Decisions have to be made,'' said Steve Jones, NOACA's manager of special projects ..."


NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAl, 2-16-01, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"Excitement builds for Lorain-to-Cleveland commuter rail project

LORAIN -- Plans for a commuter rail line from Lorain to Cleveland drew about 60 people to a meeting last night at Clearview High School.

A regional feasibility study ranks the Lorain line first out of seven possible lines across the greater Cleveland area.

The idea is similar to commuter rail in other cities: three-car diesel trains would connect commuters to limited stops for about $4. One stop would be at Lorain's Grove Site, with about five others throughout the I-90 corridor into downtown Cleveland.

Of six meetings so far throughout the region, the highest turnout was at Clearview last night, said Howard Maier, executive director of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, NOACA ...

Many people at last night's meeting were eager for the project to begin.

''This would be a wonderful thing, and such a big boost for Lorain,'' said former Lorain Mayor Alex Olejko. ''We don't want the whole pie. We just want our piece of it.''

Avon Lake Councilwoman Holly Kowalski also was excited.

''This is one of the few public projects that has the ability to benefit everyone,'' she said. ''Even people who don't use it would benefit from fewer cars on the road.'' ...

Other audience members wondered about the line's impact on the local economy. NOACA consultant Foster Nickels cautioned that such a question was up to the city.

''We're not talking about a lot of employment generated by the system itself,'' Nickels said. ''But it's an opportunity to develop employment opportunities by the presence of the station or by the ability of major employers to take advantage of it.''

Larger employers might consider running shuttles from the station, Nickels said."



`` Commuter rail may be only 5 years away

LORAIN -- A $260 million commuter railway system running from Lorain to Cleveland may be a reality in five years if the federal government will support the idea.

But that support is hard to come by in Ohio, said Foster Nichols, a consultant hired by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency to study the feasibility of commuter rail service in the region.

"Passenger rail service has not been as easy to sell in this state as elsewhere," Foster said.

The study placed a railway from Cleveland to Lorain at the top of its priority list among six other possible sites. Tying Lorain at the top was a line extending from Cleveland East through Solon to Mantua.

The railway would start in downtown Lorain and make stops at stations in Avon, Lakewood and Rocky River, using the Norfolk Southern train tracks.

The commuter railway would end in Cleveland between West Third and East Ninth streets near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.

An organization like the Rapid Transit Authority would have to be created to run the commuter service.

Former state Rep. John Bender of North Ridgeville said there is a lot of work to be done convincing federal officials to pay for the railway ...

Foster estimated it would cost $260 million to build the Lorain to Cleveland railway and pay Norfolk-Southern Railways to use some of their lines. Federal funds would pay for half of the construction cost, with state and local funds footing the rest, he said.

NOACA will be studying financing options between now and the next meeting.

If the train had 7,000 riders daily, it could cost up to $10 million to operate per year, he said. Foster said the communities would receive 25 to 40 percent of the annual cost back in revenue ...

Cost estimates for riders are $4 for each way for the 25-mile trip between Lorain and Cleveland. Monthly tickets could be sold for $100, Foster said.

"The best commuter rail systems in the country make back half the operating cost," Foster said ...

"Realistically, it will probably take five years given the fact you have to do another round of studies, you have to design it, and particularly, you have to negotiate a deal with Norfolk-Southern to get the rail out here," Foster said.

"The existing Nickel Plate line is in pretty good shape to do what we need to do and they don't have nearly enough trains to fill it up." ''

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