An Op-Ed by East Cleveland Mayor Brandon L. King
Neither “illogical, misguided” nor “not practical.”
I am writing to detail why the City of East Cleveland is a great candidate among the 28 locations being considered as a site for a new Cuyahoga County jail. I am also writing in response to the January 26, 2021 Cleveland.com article by Courtney Astolfi titled “Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish accused of secretly pushing for East Cleveland as the location for the new jail” in which he opined that locating the jail in East Cleveland is “illogical, misguided” and “not practical.” I am urging steering committee members and the County Council members who will make the final site selection decision to carefully examine the City of East Cleveland site proposal and the economic impact it offers.
One potential site mentioned in Astolfi’s article is the former Arco Recycling facility (the “Arco dump”). This would be an excellent location for the new County jail and meets or exceeds many of the steering committee’s key criteria detailed in the article.
CRITERIA, SITE QUALIFICATION, AND CRITERIA MATCH √
The former Arco Recycling facility at 1705 Noble Rd. (PPN. 673-01-011), East Cleveland, Ohio 44112, was originally owned by General Electric, as part of their historic first industrial park and used as a production and distribution facility for lighting products that were shipped worldwide. Located at the corner of Euclid Ave. and Nobel Rd., the site offers great vehicle access and, via E. 152nd street, the first northbound street from the location, offers easy access to Interstate 90.
1705 Nobel Rd. is 2.3 miles from I-90, a 6-minute drive. In addition, Euclid Ave., US 20, is an east-west interstate highway that stretches from downtown to New York state and is the longest road in the United States. Noble Rd. essentially begins at St. Clair Ave. in Cleveland, as Woodworth Ave. and ends beyond Bedford Heights as Center Rd., traversing along the way as mostly a four-lane roadway. ✓ MEETS CRITERIA
Many Regional Transit Authority buses cross the Euclid Ave. and Nobel Rd. intersection. Going East are the buses 28 and 28A and South 41 and 41F. These buses also travel west to the Louis Stokes/Windermere Rapid Station, which connects riders to the start of the nationally renowned Healthline bus and to the world via the Red Line rail, which stops at Tower City before ending at Hopkins International Airport. Currently, many RTA riders park their cars at this Station and ride the bus or rapid to Downtown Cleveland — including the Law Director of the City of East Cleveland. 1705 Nobel Rd., is 1.3 miles, a 4-minute drive, to the Louis Stokes/Windermere Rapid station. ✓ MEETS CRITERIA
Proximity to Downtown Courthouse
The Cuyahoga County Court House, located at 1 W Lakeside Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44113 is 10 miles, a 15-minute drive, from the proposed site. ✓ MEETS CRITERIA
Regarding Astolfi’s remarks concerning “police, lawyers and many others who would do business at the new jail”: The proposed site is an ideal location for these professionals and many others who would do business at the new jail. It is adjacent to Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood and close to Glenville and the cities of Cleveland Heights, South Euclid, and Euclid. ✓ EXCEEDS CRITERIA
“Priority is given to sites that are easy to acquire” –Courtney Astolfi
1705 Nobel Rd. has a substantial lien attached to it by the Ohio EPA. In my opinion, through serious negotiations, all parcels attached to the lien can be easily acquired at a very reasonable cost, and can perhaps be added to the overall economic development project as part of the City of East Cleveland’s public investment. The aforementioned parcels comprise the majority of the real estate. More than 85% of the project footprint is either owned by a public entity or directed by a public entity.✓ EXCEEDS CRITERIA
Assuming a successful negotiation with the lienholder is made for the site, the estimated market value and the cost of remaining houses, commercial land, and structures to the west, south, and east are less than $3 million. Real estate prices in East Cleveland are very depressed and currently less expensive than those in surrounding municipalities. More than 85% of the project footprint is either owned or directed by a public entity. ✓ EXCEEDS CRITERIA
A review of the County website MyPlace, reveals the following:
- North: PPN. 115-20-001 Norfolk Southern Railroad (zoned, general industry. Beyond is zoned primarily for industry
- South: PPN. 673-01-013 EC. — zoned general retail
PPN. 673-01-012 Miskeen Realty, LLC — zoned light Industry
PPN. 673-01-010 — privately owned and includes 009, 008. All are listed together and are zoned for light industry. Beyond is the four-lane roadway, Euclid Ave., and is zoned for general retail and a church zoned residential.
- West: PPN. 673-01-030 to 673-01-01-015 —15 parcels, zoned residential; 12 remaining structures, many unoccupied; five owned by the City of East Cleveland/the County Land Bank. Beyond is the four-lane roadway Nobel Rd., and is zoned residential.
- East: PPN. 673-01-033 and 673-01-001 Woodland Tree Service, Inc. — zoned general industry
PPN. 673-01-007 Cleveland Electric Illuminating. Co. — zoned general retail. Beyond is the four-lane roadway Ivanhoe Rd., and is zoned light industry and local retail.
PPN. 673-01-004 and 673-01-003 — privately owned and zoned general retail.
Purchasing all adjacent parcels would leave a four-lane roadway to the west, beyond which are residential properties. All other directions have four-lane roadways and then commercial properties. Railroad tracks are north of the site. ✓ MEETS CRITERIA
Size of Site
9.892 Acreage, 430,911 SqFt.
Purchasing residential and commercial parcels to the west, south, and east would offer the potential new jail approximately 12.539 additional acres (546,155 Sqft.). ✓ Required Acreage Unknown
Parking can be adequately configured into the project buildout. ✓ MEETS CRITERIA
Impact on the Community
With an estimated 600-plus additional blue-collar jobs, the facility’s impact on the East Cleveland economy would be tremendous. In his article, Astolfi indicates that “… the idea that a jail, at any site, would spur economic development” is questionable. However, given that the City of East Cleveland lost well over 1,000 high-paying jobs over the last ten years due to the closures of Cleveland Clinic’s Huron Road Hospital and General Electric, the jobs created by locating the facility in the City would greatly impact our economy.
Traveling throughout Ohio, mostly back and forth to Ohio University where I earned my undergrad and graduate degrees, I noticed and participated in the growth of the economies of numerous communities erected around and/or developed to serve extended-stay penal institutions. Based on my experience, what is questionable is to grossly underestimate the potential economic impact of a facility the size of the one to be built by the County, especially the impact on a city like East Cleveland — a city that has been economically depressed for decades. ✓ EXCEEDS CRITERIA
I agree with the statement of Bill Mason, Chief of Staff for County Executive Armond Budish: “If any members of the committee are talking to you about potential land sites before a decision is made, it’s counter-productive and troubling. All that does is tip-off investors, developers, and land speculators to drive up the cost of land.” However, I believe that property owners, many of whom have been in the City for well over 30 years and have survived through the “Arco dump,” housing, and drug crises — first with crack cocaine in the late 1980s and now with opioids — deserve hefty premiums for their land. These are residents who remained in the City through upheavals that ruined their American Dream of homeownership and the appreciating value thereof.
Having known Armond Budish several years, in my opinion, if he communicated to the steering committee a request to include sites in the City of East Cleveland for consideration, I surmise that his communication was offered in order to, in fact, have our city included. Given the information I’ve provided in this op-ed, what would be “illogical, misguided” and “not practical” is to not consider East Cleveland as a viable candidate for the new County jail. In his article, Astolfi stated that considering the City of East Cleveland for this project, “… whether well-intended or not,” is “… dangerous …” and “… disturbing.” I counter that his words could negatively affect — whether intended or not — the possibility of an East Cleveland site being selected by the County. Therefore, his article could potentially thwart the City’s chance at a major economic development opportunity, which would be a shame.
I have provided information that illustrates why East Cleveland should be considered as a viable location for the new County jail. I have detailed how our site meets or exceeds the key criteria Astolfi listed in his article. On behalf of the residents of the City of East Cleveland, I thank Armond Budish for considering our municipality as a location for this capital investment. I urge the steering committee to consider us for this and future projects.
Brandon L. King, Mayor, The City of East Cleveland