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Letter to the Editor: Think Green When Building Oakwood

Cleveland Heights resident Joan Spoerl requests that Mitchell Schneider, president of First Interstate Properties, be environmentally conscious when developing Oakwood Commons on the former country club property

To the Editor:

As I recently drove down Warrensville Center Road, I saw dozens of felled trees. Since it now seems inevitable that the will go forward, I have a few requests for (President of First Interstate Properties Mitchell) Schneider that I think would minimize the negative impact of the loss of green space.

  • First, please preserve some real, usable green space for the community (in contrast to Legacy Village).
  • For every tree you cut down, plant two more elsewhere on the property.
  • Have green roofs and solar panels on all the buildings. Use geothermal heating and cooling systems.
  • Have your tenants use only green cleaners in the buildings — for the good of your employees, patrons and the environment.
  • Use only non-toxic building materials, glues, carpet, etc. and require incoming businesses to do the same.
  • Practice only natural, organic landscaping practices and turf care, foregoing the use of toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides, to protect the health of the people and animals who visit and the watershed.
  • Install gray water systems in all the buildings.
  • Use pervious pavement wherever possible.
  • Install lovely and educational receptacles for recyclables, compostable materials and trash (the Cleveland Botanical Garden is doing this in its cafe as are many businesses/rest areas in Ontario and Quebec). Have an anti-litter campaign throughout the development.
  • Have your food vendors maximize the use of re-usable dishes and also work together to order compostable containers and tableware for take-out food.
  • Encourage the food vendors to create biodiesel from food waste (look to Baldwin-Wallace College and Great Lakes Brewing Company as examples).
  • Have lots of bike racks and bike paths.
  • Save space for a community garden.
  • Fund and house a small nature center (like the ) in the country club buildings and/or fund an after-school program ( in Cleveland Heights is a model program).
  • See the movie Dolphin Tale and read the book, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.
  • Think about how you will minimize the negative impact on local businesses and how you will help those who lose business and/or have to close shop as a result.

I feel so fortunate to live within walking distance of the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes and know how such a space improves the property values and quality of life of its neighbors. I had hoped for the same for the Oakwood neighbors, but the above represents my next best hope.

Joan Spoerl, Cleveland Heights

Garry Kanter January 19, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Garry Kanter "And as Fran also knows, the alternative was to see ALL 60 acres become housing and roads, or a big tax-exempt entity that would have covered the land with parking lots anyway," - "Environmentalist", Jane Goodman 1/18/2012 No developer is going to build houses in this housing market, and there was no "tax exempt" entity interested in that parcel while it was on the market. And certainly not *after* it had been purchased by First Interstate. That is a bogus argument. Councilwoman Goodman explained at public forum on Ohio's waters that the Oakwood developer cannot cause more runoff than the golf course created. That would obviously preclude this nonsense: "...the alternative was to see ALL 60 acres become housing and roads, or a big tax-exempt entity that would have covered the land with parking lots anyway..." Councilwoman Goodman voted for, and then campaigned during the referendum season for rezoning the property from single family houses to commercial-retail. Without the rezoning *championed* by Ms. Goodman, which included her filing a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission against the citizens group that opposed the rezoning (she embarrassed lost 4 - 0, despite using the developer's own attorneys), that owner-developer would have to have done something else. The free market system, not Jane Goodman's imagination, determines what those other things might have been. continued...
Garry Kanter January 19, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Jane Goodman First of all, this was a golf course, not a 40-acre forest, and though there have been tree removals, most were hollow-core trees at the end of their life expectancy that were lined up between the fairways, not a natural complete-canopy forest. Certainly no "clearcutting" has taken place. And they will be replaced with at least 20% more trees than were removed...a whole new generation...plus, instead of sitting in a line between vast areas of toxic and barely-pervious turf grass, many of the new plantings will fill previously-unprotected riparian areas and serve as green infrastructure throughout the parking lot, in and along with, the bioswales and woodlot clusters to be installed there. As Fran knows perfectly well, but is unwilling to admit, that I first tried to help her group find money to purchase the land from the golf club. When they were unsuccessful and the developer bought the land my only recourse was to do my best to save as much of the land for nature as possible and do my best to make sure that the built area would be as green as we could get it. continued...
Garry Kanter January 19, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Garry Kanter - continued... That she now talks about "cooperation" with the Cleveland Heights folks is the height of hypocrisy. "Environmentalist" Jane Goodman should not be accorded that title. Let the Super Walmart Of Oakwood be here everlasting "environmental" and community legacy. She earned it. [end]
Garry Kanter January 19, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Somehow, when viewing from my tablet, the sequence of those posts is not right...
Michelle Simakis January 20, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Hi, Garry. Thanks for reading and posting this comment. When you have a long response that takes multiple comments, consider sending me a letter to the editor. That way you can write as much as you want and the comments won't appear out of sequence.

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