Friday, January 17, 2014

An Open Letter to South Euclid's Mayfield Road Commercial Property Owners

Dear Mayfield Road Commercial Property Owner,

I am writing to you today as a concerned resident of my city of South Euclid, whose parents moved here in 1971.  In my experience, South Euclid is a community of engaged and friendly people who take pride in their property and care about the future of their neighborhoods and city.

A recurring disappointment, however, is the Mayfield Road business corridor, our ‘downtown’, which no longer reflects the dynamic vitality of our global residential community.

The condition of the commercial buildings along Mayfield Road has deteriorated to the point where I suspect the properties do not attract the types of businesses our community desires and deserves.  I’d love to be able to patronize more local, independently owned business.  Sadly, with a few exceptions like the Better Occasions Shop, and Chef’s Ingredient Outlet, many businesses moving in over the last few years represent the “lowest common denominator” and serve to harm the community’s image.  Part of the cause of this problem is poorly maintained, unsightly structures which do not appeal to either the kinds of business we’d like to attract, or to customers.  While your buildings may satisfy the legal standards for occupancy, the minimum legal standard is by no means acceptable in a community like South Euclid.  

As expressed many times in the public meetings held to develop the City of South Euclid’s Comprehensive Master Plan, a primary concern for the future of our community is the condition of our central business district, the Mayfield Road Corridor. The Master Plan makes many recommendations for improving the corridor, some of which will be implemented next year through a streetscape project at Mayfield & Green.  As a member of the Master Plan Citizens’ Steering Committee, I have blogged on this very subject.

Our residential neighborhoods also continue to recover from the foreclosure crises as more and more young families and members of the “creative class” are calling South Euclid home. This is in no small part due to engaged residents who have worked to install and maintain “pocket parks” and support the city’s Heritage Home program.  Our large core companies and institutions are growing, and we have seen new retail developments on the south side of the city. Cedar Center is an example of positive change in a previously blighted area.

Therefore, it is time for you, as a commercial property owner in the Mayfield Corridor, to make the investment to your property which will attract high-quality businesses.  A business that truly benefits the people of South Euclid, rather than exploiting our poorest citizens, will likely be in a position to pay higher rent. 

We as residents stand ready to patronize local businesses, and the City is willing to assist in finding those new businesses which will be attracted to a modern, attractive, and revitalized downtown.

For this to happen, it will require a partnership between residents, city officials, and you the property owners making an investment in our community. I stand ready to assist, just let me know how I can help. Improving our central business district is a necessity.

Hank Drake


Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 in review

For much of the world, 2013 was a difficult, strife ridden year: domestic and international terrorism, government abuse and suspicion thereof, and the anniversary of an American tragedy.  Yet the economy improved despite continued government sequestration and a protracted shutdown, and Congress did something it hadn’t done in two years – passed a budget.

I’ve made no secret that the most important domestic political issue to me is LGBT rights.  On that front, the community witnessed a series of judicial and political victories, so that by the end of this year, 17 states with a population of over 123 million people now have same-sex marriage.  It is my hope that in 2014, Ohio will join the ranks of those states.  The comings out of a number of celebrities, from Jodie Foster and Wentworth Miller, to Robbie Rogers and Tom Daley, contributed to the mainstreaming of LGBT people – much to the consternation of religious extremists and radical LGBT separatists. 

The big story in South Euclid this year was the purchase of South Euclid’s Telling Mansion by investor Richard A. Barone.  While the Cuyahoga County Public Library Board’s decision to move the branch to a new location and sell the Mansion has been unpopular, it now appears to be a fait accompli – despite a new lawsuit recently filed to prevent the sale from “closing”.  I believe that Mr. Barone’s proposal to use part of the Mansion as a porcelain art museum, and his welcoming of the TellingMansion Preservation Organization’s assistance represent the best way forward in guiding the Telling site into the future.

I went to more concerts this year than I can remember - Severance Hall is always a joy to visit (Blossom, not so much).  Of particular note was Jean-Yves Thibaudet’s spectacular performance of Liszt’s Todtentanz in the aftermath of a driving thunderstorm at Blossom.  But the most memorable event for me was the exploration of Sony’s 41 CD (plus 1 DVD) boxed set of Vladimir Horowitz at Carnegie Hall – performances spanning 1943-1978.  The term “astonishing” simply does not do justice to a series of performances that demonstrate that virtuosity and musicality are not opposing virtues.  Also on the piano front, my friend Zsolt Bognár’s recording was issued to widespread acclaim.

I seldom go to movies anymore – unless the item is either unique, or spectacular enough to warrant the cost of a ticket.  Two movies: Star Trek Into Darkness, and Man of Steel, were profoundly disappointing entries in franchises I’ve known and loved over the decades.

For me, the year was busy, with both difficulty and success on the personal front. 

My quest to get myself into better shape was stymied by chronic back troubles and a pinched nerve.  Yet I continued a basic routine of 30 minutes on the elliptical machine – five times per week – to promote cardiovascular health – and that combined with my diet prevented me from gaining weight. 

Toward the end of the year, I received some good news: a substantial promotion at work.  The flip side is that this will make even more demands on my time – which has already resulted in a falloff of my blog entries.  But I’ll still post from time to time.