This week has been pretty calm. Saturday, I walked up the street to the Humphrey Store and later drove to Gus’ East 185 Diner for a late lunch. Business is good for both and everything seems like it always has been. Now, the next day it was time to do something different. I decided to finally stop in at the Standard Restaurant for the first time since it has been under new management. It was quiet but then again it was four in the afternoon. However, the food was really good; a filet mignon with mashed potatoes, green beans, and carrots. They don’t have valet parking at night for no reason! This all may seem like a lot of eating out but there are other ways I try to support this community.
It was with this attitude in mind that I attended our monthly neighborhood watch meeting Tuesday evening at the Lithuanian Hall next to the post office. While I did learn, to my surprise, of the incident at Lansing and East 185th this weekend, and the bust of a drug ring that nabbed 22 people, there were other things that would be put on the pro side of the ledger regarding the fate of this area.
For starters, Collinwood won this year’s Cleveland Chain Reaction contest and the Dev. Corp is going to target East 185th St., not just retail but light industrial and the like. Not only that, the East 185th St. area is now part of one of the Opportunity Zones in Cuyahoga County. According to the Economic Innovation Group, this is a new tool established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to bring investment into low-income and rural communities. While the idea that this area is now considered a low-income community is kind of depressing, nevertheless the funds offered will come in handy especially with other projects underway or soon to be around here. The boundary of the one East 185th St. is now part of is from East 169th St. (and London in S. Collinwood) all the way to the Euclid Border and in fact all of Euclid West of East. 200 St. Finally, the Cleveland Metroparks has taken over the Wildwood Marina and is upgrading the docks and concession facilities there.
I write this as a counterpoint to some of the things I’ve read in the papers these past two weeks. Cleveland Plain Dealer Columnist Phillip Morris wrote something on March 31st about reactions to the trial of the ring leader in the shooting of the owners of Mr. Car two years ago and now being put on trial. While I know it’s a losing battle to let people know that the East 185th neighborhood isn’t really Collinwood, Mr. Morris does hit it on the head regarding a ‘resistance’ to urban decay by locals here (kind of like what happened in Slavic Village in the 1990s) and that it’s a combination of local people and Councilman Polensek, rather than City Hall, that’s leading the way. However, it would be pollyannaish to not see that the problems that have usually affected the inner city have now spread even beyond the city limits. For example, the fatal shooting a man in in his car at Villaview and Nottingham in February began with a party in East Cleveland and a car chase leading not only to this murder here but the suspect eventually hitting a tree in Euclid after trying to flee the cops. Let’s not also forget the car chase last year by the Willowick police of a suspect that lead to a house on Waterloo being knocked off it’s foundation (and that’s city’s chief of police telling the owner of the house that his insurance would cover the damage). So, when we grumble about why City Hall doesn’t spend part of that $73 million budget surplus to hire more cops than they have, perhaps there is some grounds for it.
However, as shown by this week, there are some really encouraging things happening in this corner of Cleveland. For all those former neighbors who moved out to Willoughby, Mentor, or even Rocky River (and beyond), things are still promising in your old neighborhood; and not just north of Lake Shore Boulevard.
Photograph by James Valentino.