For those who follow this blog, you know I have shared updates on the status of the old La Salle Theater on East 18tth St. here in North Collinwood. Tuesday, at the monthly neighborhood watch meeting, Councilman Polensek told the members that the Planning Commission approved the plan (mentioned previously at another meeting) to demolish the La Salle Tavern, the house behind it and another structure to expand that parking lot. Now, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress has to work with the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and the regional sewer district to secure the funding to do so.
Other projects are coming down the pipeline (or sewerline if may be) and so while North Collinwood may not get the press the Cleveland Plain Dealer has given lately to downtown and adjacent West Side neighborhoods, it’s still chugging along.
While this was published in Scene Magazine last week, I only caught it on Saturday and it piqued my interest. Among other things, I was surprised to see that the heirs to Jeptha H. Wade are concerned enough about his legacy to put forward this lawsuit and I give them credit for doing so. After all, it’s not the first time I heard people criticize the fact that the gardens are walled off and you must pay admission to enter. A lady that used to work with me at the job, now retired, told me that the herb garden which was created in 1969 by the Western Reserve Herb Society was originally open to the public and many of the older members, such as her late mother, were not happy with the present arrangement. As a matter of fact, I remember as a child one time walking across the street from the Art Museum to go to what was then called the Garden Center of Greater Cleveland (as the gardens were then called) and it was free.
While I was a long time member of both the Cleveland Botanical Gardens (or the CBG) and the Holden Arboretum (and now Holden Forest and Gardens) the fact is that some short-sighted decisions from the CBG’s management over the years has led to all this. However, it is to me very interesting that the descendants of one of the big old families of Cleveland’s industrial heyday still care about what is going on in this city. Good for them.
With such perfect weather like what we had this last weekend, it was a no brainer to hop in the car and go somewhere. After all, with all that went on that Saturday it was good to clear the head. Well, the car took me down Routes 8 and 224 to the Portage Lakes of Summit County. For the life of me, this has been the first year I have ever been down there. When I showed a photograph of it afterwards to a coworker of mine she thought it was in another country. While I wouldn’t go that far to describe place, it is certainly nothing that I’d expect there.
There are thirteen lakes in all. Most of these are in fact reservoirs created in the 19th century to provide water for the Ohio and Erie Canal while the rest are glacial kettle lakes similar to those elsewhere in Northeast Ohio. Later, as the city of Akron boomed as the ‘Rubber City’, summer cottages were built along the shores and eventually they became year round residences like similar weekend resorts along the shores of Lake Erie. Today, the Portage Lakes (called locally PLX) is an unincorporated community within Summit County. While the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has a state park down there, cottages definitely dominate the shores as much as the boats in the water. Apparently there is what some call a ‘downtown’ but, from what I saw despite the heavy traffic, it was better described as a hamlet: a small commercial area with a distinctive clock tower with the East Reservoir behind it. However, it is the focal point of the community with a number of businesses and very popular eateries. For one thing, there is Pick’s at PLX.
Like a layer cake, the building has different purposes with each level, a banquet hall on the top, a restaurant called Table 530 just below that (and ironically the floor that is on street level) a very popular sports bar below that, and terraces full of tables with umbrellas and bars going all the way down to the water. When I pulled up, one of the attendants told me they had at least three other parking lots besides the one next to the building and I was lucky enough to have someone leave just as I was arriving so I took his spot. While the view across the West Reservoir from Pick’s wasn’t like one would find in Vermilion or the Muskoka Lakes Region, that’s not the point. The old ramshackle cottages have a funky charm of their own.
As for the restaurant, it wasn’t bad for a Sunday afternoon. Service was kind of slow, but that seems more because the servers were also bringing orders out to the terraces at the same time. I do know that my steak and baked potato were good and the Italian dressing on my salad (included with the meal) was home made. Money was put into the decor and the bar behind me was well stocked and plenty of customers. It was simply nice to look out the window at a fleet of pontoon boats moored at the water’s edge bringing more customers to the place and the adjacent Harbor Front Grille
Would it be worth driving down there again for an afternoon, I definitely think so. If anything, this would be a good spot for some of the Akron Writer’s Group to hang out afterwards. Nevertheless, considering all that was going on that weekend, it was worth the trip.
Yesterday’s horrific mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, and what has now happened in Dayton, Ohio, threw what was a regular weekend off kilter. I just happened to come home Saturday from an area Kohl’s store when I turned on the television to the breaking news. My thoughts immediately went to the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last year (a place I parked near when I visited that city a year earlier). My thoughts also went to the shooting that have occurred in parts of Cleveland this year.
Friday, at the job, I chatted with someone who works for Cuyahoga County’s Office of Emergency Management. He and a colleague went down to Public Square Thursday August 1, 2019 for Cuyahoga County’s first annual Fun Day. An afternoon of family friendly fun disguising the real purpose of the event; promoting county public service agencies and related non-profits like the YMCA and the Cleveland Public Library, these two lucky souls had to set up and sit at their agency’s booth. One of the first questions I had for him was there enough police protection there. He told me that the City of Cleveland and Sheriff’s Department had their officers in full force with no incidents. I was glad to hear that since i remember another big free event at Public Square years ago under then Mayor Jane Campbell that turned into a brawl in front of the Terminal Tower. Back then, someone shooting off guns wasn’t on the forefront of my mind but Thursday it did; I just didn’t mention it to him.
I will not write here on this site my views on gun rights or control and the polarization our society is afflicted with today. However, people should be able to worship, shop, have a night on the town, and send their children to school without worrying about being shot.
On a tangent away from this but still related to what took place, I want to leave a link to a clip to the ending of the film Lilies of the Field. Unfortunately they left out the previous part where Homer (Sidney Poitier who delivered an Academy Award winning performance) tricks the Mother Superior (Lila Skala) into finally saying “Thank You” for all the work he did helping her, and everyone else, build that chapel. I first saw this simple yet honest film at the Cleveland Cinematheque and the ending always moved me. Recently, it was on Turner Classic Movies and I haven’t seen it in awhile. The America some people are afraid of us becoming already exists and has so for a long time.
Time doesn’t slow down for anybody. For example, who would have thought that my trip down to Mansfield Ohio happened almost a month ago? Then again, many would wonder why I went down there in the first place. Well, for starters, I wasn’t driving and I was curious about the carrousel only a few blocks away from the center of town.
Once a pretty bustling mid-sized industrial powerhouse, like many cities of it’s size in Ohio, Mansfield has slowly rusted. This city is no different from places like Elyria, Warren, or Painesville in the sense that, once the factories pulled out and left, what remained has been put on economic life support. Driving into town we drove past empty brick buildings that once churned out refrigerators and other appliances that were the bread and butter for many people living there. Mansfield is the county seat of Richland County and plenty of cars were driving through the center of town that Sunday afternoon. To the north of town is the old Ohio State Reformatory which, thanks to the movie The Shawshank Redemption, has become a tourist attraction drawing thousands of people every year, and bringing in much needed revenue.
As for the Richland Carrousel Park, I was pleasantly surprised. For the first time in decades I actually hopped on one of the horses and rode twice around as the organ music played. Of course there were many of children with their parents and a sizeable line developed both times I handed the operator the token to get on. To obtain the tokens, you walk into the adjacent gift shop which from what I see does a pretty good business.
The guy who I went down with happens to be a big carroussel buff. He believes that this is exactly the type of attraction we need at Euclid Beach Park in North Collinwood. After all, it was an amusement park until it closed in 1969 and, with all the improvements the Cleveland Metroparks have done since they took it over, bringing back a carrousel doesn’t seem too far fetched for him. Now, can what Mansfield has done be replicated here on the North Coast is hard to tell.
I’m sure somewhere in the Neil Zurcher’s One Tank Trip archives there is something about Mansfield’s carrousel. At least I can say that I discovered something rather unique in a part of Ohio I rarely visit.
I’m really starting to like what Scene Magazine’s Sam Allard has written lately. This week’s piece on ‘City Block,’ the Blockland Tech Hub for downtown Cleveland really caught my attention. When I visited the Youngstown Business Incubator years ago with its’ founder Jim Cossler, I thought to myself that Cleveland needed to study that and create its own version to generate new companies for the area. While not exactly an incubator, what Bernie Moreno proposes is pretty close. It also utilizes the empty space at Tower City Center far more effectively than any Amazon HQ2 proposal ever could.
One thing about the job that pays the bills is that it’s located behind a big road project that has entered its’ third phase of construction. Called the ‘Opportunity Corridor’ it’s supposed to connect East 105th St. in University Circle with I-490 and, subsequently all the freeways on the South and West sides of the Cleveland area.
This past week, I’ve walked the completed stretch of the Corridor from Quincy Avenue to East 93rd Street on my lunch break and took these photographs to give you an idea what the entire stretch will be like when completed. Also, here is to a link to a piece on the Channel 5 News website from May 28th on this.
As I walked on the sidewalk with a colleague, I noticed as much as she had the potential of the route for redevelopment, and not because of the new bike trail we noticed along the opposite side of the street. She saw the possibility of new restaurants and other buildings on what are now grassy fields. I agreed with her and even raised the idea that, potentially, housing could also be developed along the route. However, I also mentioned that any large scale development like that could only happen if Mayor Jackson and City Council hire more cops than they have the last two years and put a few more squad cars in the area. After all, a stray bullet hitting the nearby Juvenile Justice Center is not that distant a memory.
On the other hand, I must admit I had the same vibe that she did when I walked along the completed stretch at East 105th Street and Quebec Avenue a couple years back and thought about all the new medical related buildings that can join the 43,000 square-foot IBM/Explorys facility which is now at the corner of that street and Cedar Avenue. Already, there is a big billboard on the west side of the street that I drive past every day with an illustration of a spanking new building on it. We’ll see what happens.