In order to give the , Cleveland Heights City Council members approved sending an application for funding to the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) at Tuesday night's meeting.
Councilman Dennis Wilcox said the application is for $3.7 million (roughly 80 percent of the project), and if approved, the city is asking for the money in three phases. The city is then required to find a 20 percent match for the rest of the project.
The plan is to revitalize the strip of Lee Road between and the of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library. Improvements would include planting more trees along the streets, mini-parks including a kiddie park, artistic lighting, more outdoor dining, enhanced areas for bench seating, and crosswalk improvements with special decorative paving treatments inside the intersections.
"It's in the city's best interest to apply for this money," Wilcox said. "These are important parts of our city and our economic development."
As a liaison to the Coventry Special Improvement District, Wilcox said business owners spoke of the importance of having a beautiful and inviting streetscape and agreed to tax themselves for an additional five years to see the project through.
"We can't stop economic development," Wilcox said. "If you stand still, you move backwards. We've saved money over the years for economic development, and now we have the ability to leverage this money for this project."
City Council also approved to help the city find money for the streetscape project, as well as a variety of other projects the city may want to start. The firm will be paid $75,000 for one year.
According to the ordinance, the G2G's responsibilities include the development of a strategy to foster growth in the Cedar/Fairmount, Cedar/Lee, Cedar/Taylor, Coventry and Mayfield/Warrensville business districts. It is also to maintain a constant presence in these areas and to match funding needs in areas such as infrastructure improvements, redevelopment, brownfield cleanup, crime prevention and business growth.
"With state and federal cutbacks, we need to be more creative and find specific funds for specific projects," Wilcox said. "I think hiring them is well worth the effort."
Councilwoman Bonita Caplan agreed.
"The money we are looking for is not residents' money," she said. "We don't have the ability to know where money is available without expertise. We're taking a $75,000 idea and hoping it will pay off big time."