CLEVELAND, Ohio – Shaker Square is home, business, and entertainment for many, including my family. The reality is that what happens in our close-knit community has an impact far beyond the square and these areas are in desperate need of the attention of city leaders.
In recent weeks, the future of Shaker Square has been a controversial topic and for what some say is “too big to fail” others say “the price is too high, and it will fail”.
This debate has caused a major divide between neighbors, business owners, customers and elected officials.
Should public funds in the form of forgivable loans pay more than double what the Square is valued? Should we bail out banks and businesses with several millions, when a few streets away there are real struggles like the lack of coats for children, lead problems and more than 60% of children live in poverty ?
Why not use the passion and resources spent debating each other to fight for a better deal or raise more money so that repayable public loans are not used?
The division on Shaker Square is not about the new concept, the division is: should public money go to the haves or the have-nots?
Hardly a day goes by without someone knocking on the door of the EDWINS Butcher or Bakery in Buckeye asking for food. Helping those in crisis is a real concern, as is the safety and well-being of our children.
In my conversations with residents of Ward 4, many focus not only on the square, but also on their streets where homicides have been the highest in a decade.
Recreation centers like Luke Easter Park dedicate programming that is part of the solution but costs money. So why not invest millions in efforts like this?
The proposed plan recommends that public funds be used to overpay for Shaker Square, but the money could also be used for groceries for a year for 1,300 families or more than a million breakfasts for the kids.
What about much-needed repairs to homes in Cleveland neighborhoods? With the proposed millions, we could reduce nearly 700 homes or inject $ 3,000 into more than 2,000 homes for repairs and roof improvements for the elderly.
If you ask the attorneys for a $ 12 million purchase of the Shaker Square property which has been valued at $ 5.2 million, you will find that many of these people live outside of Cleveland and want the money. is spent for less than 200,000 square feet while our ward covers nearly three square miles.
Let’s be honest, it is highly unlikely and unreasonable that this proposal will stimulate investment in Mount Pleasant or all the way to Kinsman. Are they even a review of the proposed funding?
If Cleveland is truly in a renaissance and a time of change, we need to involve all stakeholders in the community in the conversation about the use of public funds. This ensures that resources will be distributed – strategically and equitably – to improve neighborhoods.
The proposal on the table, however, is consistent with the same bad business, the same disconnected leadership, and the same lack of spending where it’s needed most. This will only help us maintain Cleveland’s ranking as the poorest large city in the United States.
The best gift the community has received in 2021 is the hiatus on the Shaker Square proposal. Until this deal becomes fairer and improves ALL areas, our city’s public funds must remain in place.
From scratch, is Cleveland’s “new leadership awakening” ready to fight for those who need it most? We call on decision makers to join us in developing a fair and inclusive plan that represents the diverse voices and needs of the neighborhood 4.
We can do it, together.
Brandon Chrostowski is a resident, business owner and advocate of Buckeye / Shaker Square who is dedicated to providing fair and equal opportunity for all.
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