I've been the Ward 4 representative on South Euclid City Council since 2006, and in that time we've gotten a lot done to revitalize our little city.
For decades we could get by as a bedroom community, where we could pay the bills just from property taxes, with not much in the way of commercial revenues. We were hit hard by the foreclosure crisis that left us faced with hundreds of vacant and abandoned properties and lowered the property values of just about all our housing stock, meaning we had even less revenue to work with.
Thanks to a very smart and creative housing department led by Sally Martin, and Mayor Welo, who was not only able but eager to think outside the box, and with federal funding, the cooperation of the county land bank, the development of One South Euclid as a community development corporation, and the participation of a whole lot of residents, we were able to create the Green Neighborhoods initiative in Ward 4.
That brought new community gardens on vacant land where houses had to be demolished, and let us retrofit older homes with energy-efficient and other green features. It has made a world of difference, and our city's support for green initiatives has blossomed to include a wealth of green spaces in other parts of the city.
Ward 4 has been at the center of a lot of the city's revitalization. Rebuilding the blighted old Cedar Center North took years, and though it may not have turned out exactly as we had initially planned, the Center is a veritable hive of activity around a variety of establishments.
The new Oakwood Commons is a showcase for green infrastructure, with a restored stream, native plants and bioswales and permeable paving to manage stormwater, and the new Oakwood Green nature preserve with access on East Antisdale features a wetland, native wildflowers, and a trail through a 20-acre oasis of peace. You should visit.
So what's happening?
Wonder what happened to the trees that got cut to make room for the new library? Some of them have become benches at the nature preserve! Thanks to the donation of some of the nicest logs by the library, their contractors, and Dash, the tree service, there are more than a dozen new places to sit, rest a bit, and enjoy the view.
As the trees in the preserve end their lives, they won't go to the big forest in the sky, they'll be cut down and their massive trunks will also become seating for visitors to the site. It's what nature would do.
About Oakwood Green
This is our city's new nature preserve, located behind Oakwood Commons, accessible from a small parking area in the 3700 block of East Antisdale.
This is not a formal park. It's a nature preserve. The trails are mostly where the cart paths were when the land was a golf course. They serve as a fitness path with exercise stops along the way, a donation from First Interstate to honor one of its founders.
The land was originally wild wooded wetlands, and still is in some areas, and as we let nature take it back there will be new forests and wildflower meadows.
Some areas flood during big rains, and some of the paths get wet. So it's wise to wear rain boots if you're planning to take a stroll after a rain.
Ward 4 is home to the South Euclid branch of the Cuyahoga County library, which hosts the Skirball Writers Center (since we have so many writers living in South Euclid.)
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Fresh eggs come from South Euclid. Another thing I worked on is increasing opportunities for urban agriculture. I sponsored a revision to our code to make it easier for people with small lots to raise a few chickens - "few" being the operative word.
Our old code allowed chickens if their coop was 100' away from the nearest dwelling. Considering that so many of our lots are only that long to begin with, it kept many of the people most eager to have chickens from doing so.
The new code makes it both easier and more difficult - you really need to want to give chickens a nice clean home and to keep the neighbors happy. It lets you keep up to four hens – no roosters, thank you – in a coop closer to your house. On the other hand, you have to build the coop or enclosure to certain specifications, you have to get a permit when you first build it, and, most importantly, it's a conditional use permit, which means that the neighbors will have a say in whether, or how, or where, you house your flock. Then, if you turn out not to be a stellar coop-keeper, the city can pull your permit and you're out of eggs.
The regular nuisance laws against smell and noise apply, too.
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