Monday, July 22, 2013

The fat lady sings

If the proverbial fat lady sang her final aria in the forest, would anybody hear her?

On July 10, the lawsuit filed by the Save the South Euclid-Lyndhurst Mansion Library Committee against the Cuyahoga County Library Board was dismissed.  The suit was to prevent CCPL from selling the Telling Mansion and grounds. 

As of today, that suit’s dismissal has yet to be acknowledged by the Save the Mansion Library Committee or reported in the local media.

Meanwhile, the SML Committee continues their efforts.  The latest activity is a “read-in” scheduled for tonight in the Telling Mansion.  Presumably, their leaders continue to solicit funds.  A member of their group even called the President of TeMPO, boasting of the thousands of dollars they’ve raised.  They continue to post, in capital letters, that “THIS IS NOT A DONE DEAL” on their facebook page and in’s comments section (where one member of the SML committee posts under at least seven different names).

Truth be told, it’s a done deal.  I have never been in favor of the library’s move – but it’s going to happen.  The new site has been purchased, the Telling site is all but sold, and the legal barriers have been overcome.  Despite what some have stated, there’s nothing the city of South Euclid can do to prevent the new facility from opening.  Any attempt to erect bureaucratic barriers to the CCPL’s plans would inevitably result in a suit for which the citizens of South Euclid – and they alone – would be financially responsible.  Within a relatively short time, the library will move.  One can either choose to beat one’s chest, or one can try and find the best possible solution - emphasis on “possible”.

This is exactly why those of us in the Telling Mansion Preservation Organization have been working to secure the future of this historic property, to save it from demolition, and, preferably, keep it open to the public.  While the SML’ers have been promoting online petitions with no legal validity, picketing weekly outside the library, disrupting Library board and South Euclid City Council/Planning Commission meetings, we’ve been speaking with the prospective new owner: Richard Barone.  Mr. Barone wants to utilize the Telling Mansion as a museum for his collection of Porcelain Art, a niche that’s underserved in the United States.  We’ve raised our concerns about the long term future of the Mansion, allowing the South Euclid-Lyndhurst Historical Society to remain there, keeping it open to the public, and other possible uses – including ceremonies and performing arts.  Mr. Barone has responded positively to these concerns and gone over his plans in some detail – much of which remains unreported in the local media. We’re relieved that someone with the means to bring the Mansion, which has been neglected by the CCPL for the last decade, up to specs is now engaged.  And we intend to continue working toward the creation of a permanent foundation, with an endowment, to secure the Telling Mansion’s long term viability.

Now, let’s talk about the new library site.  Beyond the question of aesthetics, which is a matter of opinion, there are legitimate concerns about the proposed location on Green Road, across from Notre Dame College. 

One concern raised by the SML group is the large parking lot for the proposed site, and the potential impact to the water shed due to the increase in rainwater runoff.  The Planning Commission must insist on permeable materials for the entire parking lot.  If the CCPL can afford $12 to build a new library, they can afford the additional cost for permeable paving. It’s up to us citizens of South Euclid to ensure the Planning Commission heeds these concerns.  As a member of the Citizens Steering Committee for South Euclid’s new Master Plan, I intend to pursue this matter.

Another concern is the location.  Although the CCPL boasts that the new location will be ADA compliant, there is the accessibility of location – and the new site is not on RTA’s major line: the No. 9.  Citizens should encourage RTA to provide better bus access to the new Library.  Indeed, a community circulator bus that runs in the area bordered by Richmond Road on the East, Warrensville Center Road on the West, Mayfield Road on the North, and Cedar Road on the South is warranted. 

Finally, there is the issue of Lyndhurst.  It would be intentionally ignorant to deny that this community, which I once called home, has gotten the shaft.  The Mayfield Library has moved a mile further away from Lyndhurst, while the new site also takes the library over a mile further from Lyndhurst.  I believe citizens of South Euclid and Lyndhurst should team up, as we have in the past, and persuade the CCPL to open a satellite facility in Lyndhurst, as they have in Richmond Heights, preferably on Mayfield Road.

However, this should be something for the citizens of South Euclid and Lyndhurst to work on. The professional activists, particularly those with a history of antagonizing large swaths of our community and who have proven, by their losing track record, to have the fecal touch, need to butt out.  

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