Thursday, October 11, 2007

They're Coming to Take It Away

A little background first. Metropolitan Cleveland occupies a large area; like many large cities it now occupies more than one county. The city of Akron, south in Summit County, is arguably a suburb of Cleveland. Metro Cleveland expands eastward into Lake County, all the way out to Painesville. And on the west side, everywhere out to the city of Lorain has become a suburb of Cleveland. I feel especially well qualified to talk about the west side of Cleveland, because I've lived there for most of my life. I spent the first twenty-four years of my life living in Bay Village, a suburb of Cleveland at the very edge of Cuyahoga County, the same county the city of Cleveland occupies. For the past six years we've been living in Lorain County.

There's lots of housing being built in Lorain County, especially in the cities closer to a)the lake and b)the city of Cleveland. Shopping and restaurants are popping up like mushrooms at one exit off of the interstate in Avon, OH. And there's been talk for years of building another freeway exit in Avon, a little further east. All this is good for Lorain County, whose mainstay for years was and to some extent still is automobile plants. As we've seen lately, these plants aren't reliable places to base an economy on, and in any case these jobs will likely become more obsolete as automation takes over.

Now to the interesting stuff. There is apparently a regional planning group called the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) which votes on measures concerning the local interstates. As I wrote above, Avon would like to build another freeway exit. Fortunately for Avon, the Cleveland Clinic wants to build a family medical center there. Unfortunately for Avon, the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County mayors want their cut. For 10 years. And those in Cuyahoga County on the NOACA are threatening to veto the freeway exit proposal, even though the city of Avon and the development group that owns the land currently would be paying for the project.

From my point of view, Cuyahoga County's demand for money is nothing but unmitigated greed. When the neighboring city of Westlake (in Cuyahoga County) was growing like wildfire along the interstate, did they offer to "share" their profits with neighboring cities? I would guess not. And mind you, this growth has occurred not only within my lifetime, but a great deal of it has taken place within the last twenty years. Does the city of Westlake owe the city of Rocky River tax revenue from its swanky and flourishing shopping development, Crocker Park? After all, the recent shopping and restaurant development in Westlake may very well have helped put the final nails in the coffin of Westgate Shopping Center in Rocky River, which is now a distant memory. For that matter, if Avon is "sharing" taxes with Cuyahoga County, does that mean that Avon residents could be allowed to use the city of Bay Village's lovely pool, or Westlake's fancy recreation center? Both of these are currently for city residents only. If Avon is paying taxes into these cities' coffers, shouldn't Avon residents be able to take advantage of these cities' benefits as well?

Yes, the city of Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County, are bleeding. They're losing hundreds of thousands of people, and losing jobs. However, instead of trying to reach out and grab what others are getting, perhaps they should take a good look in the mirror and try to fix their own problems. No, they'd rather just take from an area that is doing better. You know, this whole scheme sounds very familiar. I'm not surprised that the city government of Cleveland and the Cuyahoga County Commissioner are all from the same party. You guess which one.


Sniz said...

Hmmm...this sounds very familiar. I'm from a town called Avon, only mine is a western suburb of Indianapolis. The same things go on here too...all the counties vying for the money, no one wanting to share their "amenities". It makes me crazy.

Lutheran Lucy said...

They sound as mixed up as our city government! It only seems to get worse too, doesn't it?

By the way, I made an adoption post for you!! Take care!!