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Thriving Communities Institute: From Vacancy to Vitality

March 19, 2013 in ACT, Conditions and Trends, economic development, Housing, News, Toolkiit

In 2011, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy launched an effort to combat the devastating impact of abandonment and disinvestment on Northeast Ohio’s core cities. Entitled the “Thriving Communities Institute,” the initiative targeted the reduction of vacant residential properties, primarily through demolition. These properties, according to Institute Director Jim Rokakis, reduce property values in our neighborhoods. Studies show that one vacant property on a street will significantlyreduce the value of adjacent homes. Soon, due to loss of value, foreclosures and “bank walk-aways,” the nearby homes become vacant as the disease spreads. Soon the entire neighborhood is dead and diseased, having been destroyed by this contagious and toxic process. Then the adjacent areas are infected and the disease spreads further … predictably, relentlessly, and with devastating consequences.

The impact of disinvestment in the urban core also has negative implications for the region’s natural environment. Depressed urban markets drive potential residents further away from the center and into suburban and exurban communities. The demand for housing and retail services away from the core increases development pressure on previously undeveloped open spaces and agricultural lands. The abandoned housing left behind prevents reuse of urban properties for urban gardens, parks, and greenways. Residential vacancies cause unnecessary consumption of “greenfield” land for development while prohibiting the repurposing of unoccupied land for environmental remediation; it is a two-edged sword.

According to Director Jim Rokakis, Thriving Communities Institute is already lending its hand to transform vacant and unproductive properties into new opportunities to attract economic growth, to bring green space to the region’s cities, and to support safe, beautiful neighborhoods. In working with community leaders in Northeast Ohio, the Institute has learned that urban revitalization is a process, one with many steps supported by great partnerships. Thriving Communities is helping secure vacant, unhealthy properties by establishing and supporting county land banks throughout the region. County land banks provide counties with much-needed ability to quickly acquire foreclosed and vacant property. These land banks can safely hold a distressed property, clean its title, and prepare it for a better day. The goal is to secure vacant properties – which would otherwise attract crime, lower neighboring home values, and incur public services costs – so that they can be put to better use in the future.

Additional information about the Thriving Communities Institute is available through their website: http://thrivingcommunitiesinstitute.org/. This site includes opportunities to provide support, become better engaged, and share stories or photographs. Questions about the Institute may be directed to either Jim Rokakis (jrokakis@wrlandconservancy.org) or Robin Thomas (rthomas@wrlandconservancy.org).

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Digi-NEO…facts about Northeast Ohio

March 15, 2013 in Conditions and Trends, Connections, Engagement, Environment, News, Quality Connected Places, Transportation

During the course of developing the NEOSCC Conditions and Trends Platform, we developed 33 findings across the subject matter areas of economic development, transportation, housing, the environment and quality connected places in Northeast Ohio.  In order to communicate some of these findings, we have developed the Digi-NEO program which highlights different facts about the region’s successes as well as its challenges.

Visit our Digi NEO Gallery to learn more about our region.

New Online Resource Provides Data for Northeast Ohio

January 9, 2013 in Conditions and Trends, News, Tool, Toolkiit

A unique partnership between three leading institutions has released a new tool that provides data on conditions in Northeast Ohio.

The Northeast Ohio Data Collaborative, formed in early 2012, announced the availability of NEO CANDO 2010+. This interactive online data portal provides information about demographic, socioeconomic, and other data that help define and promote understanding of the human landscape of Northeast Ohio. Access NEO CANDO 2010+ at http://neocando.case.edu/index.shtml.

Claudia Coulton, co-director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University, explained, “The development of the original NEO CANDO put our region ahead of other parts of the country. This update includes the latest data, has new features, and operates faster, keeping Northeast Ohio at the forefront.”

  

Features of NEO CANDO 2010+

  • Free and publicly accessible resource
  • Easily downloadable demographic and socioeconomic data
  • On-demand mapping based on a Google Maps platform
  • Revised geographies that reflect changes since the 2000 Census
  • Data from the 2010 Census for the entire 17-county Northeast Ohio region including by county, municipality, and some neighborhoods
  • Customizable reports allowing user to select certain indicators or geographies
  • Ability for future expansion to more data sources, such as birth and death records, property information, and health indicators

 

To read the full story at Planetizen, click here.

To learn more about the initiative at the Center for Community Solutions, click here.

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Finding the tools to keep Northeast Ohio’s future bright

November 26, 2012 in Communications, Conditions and Trends, News, Sustainability, Tool

In The Plain Dealer yesterday, Hunter Morrison, NEOSCC Executive Director and Jason Segedy, NEOSCC Board Chair contributed a guest column, “Finding the tools to keep Northeast Ohio’s future bright”,  to the Forum section discussing NEOSCC, the Conditions and Trends Platform and Vibrant NEO 2040.  Here is an excerpt from the piece:

Admit it: You love Northeast Ohio. You love the people, or the history, the museums, the food, or the parks and the sports. For all of us, there are aspects of our region about which we are proud, unique qualities that make it a great place to live. We all want to see the things that we love about Northeast Ohio thrive and grow, just as we would like to see the challenges facing our region addressed and put behind us.

The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium works to help residents preserve and build upon what we value, and to fix those things that are challenging — on a regional scale. NEOSCC is a growing member-led collaboration of public agencies, elected officials, philanthropic and nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities and community members. Our collective work will serve as the foundation for the development of Vibrant NEO 2040, a regionwide planning and engagement effort convened by the consortium to spur the development of the vision and tools that will help Northeast Ohio become a more sustainable, resilient and vibrant place to live and work.

To continue reading visit cleveland.com.

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What’s missing from our Library?

November 13, 2012 in Conditions and Trends, Sustainability, Toolkiit

In developing our Conditions and Trends Platform, NEOSCC staff, Consortium members and over 150 subject-matter experts distilled information from public policy plans, planning initiatives and other resources from across the region into a comprehensive set of findings about our region. These findings are the heart of this Conditions and Trends Platform. They are not a definitive list; instead, they are a starting point for understanding our region. And there are no solutions or recommendations within these findings; any recommendations resulting from NEOSCC’s work will be developed in collaboration with Northeast Ohio’s leaders and residents. This information included 100′s of planning efforts completed and underway throughout Northeast Ohio.

NEOSCC has compiled pre-existing policy plans and initiatives that are available across the Ohio region into a searchable database.  Our question to you is… what is missing?  Visit our Vibrant NEO 2040 Library and let us know.

 

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Parks, Parks and more Parks

November 12, 2012 in Conditions and Trends, Environment, News

Mill Creek Park, Mahoning County

One of the most interesting findings in the Conditions and Trends Platform is that 90% of NEO populations is within 1 mile of a park or a green space.

The highest concentration of parks and protected spaces is in the center of the region, around the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Ravenna Arsenal in Summit and Portage Counties.

There are, however, areas concentrated along the edge of the region that are further than two miles from a park or protected space. These areas include western Lorain and Medina counties, southern Wayne and Stark Counties, and parts of Ashtabula, Trumbull, and Mahoning counties.

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Engaging MPO’s in our Conditions and Trends

November 9, 2012 in Communications, Conditions and Trends, Engagement, MPOS, News


The image above is part of the  Vibrant NEO 2040 presentation that will be presented today at the first in a series of meetings with Northeast Ohio’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations/Council of Governments Board of Directors.  This morning at the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), we will be discussing the overall status of the project, the upcoming scenario planning process, project outcomes/products and engagement.

This conversation will be followed by brief roundtable discussions on four of our work streams:  Economic Development, Environment, Connections and Housing and Communities.   Utilizing the findings from the Conditions and Trends Platform, we hope to engage local leaders in exploring the following:

  • What do these findings mean to you and your community?
  • What do these findings mean to the region?
  • What else do you need to know about your community?
  • What else do you need to know about Northeast Ohio?

Over the course of the next month, we will be holding similar meetings with the other MPO’s and COG’s as well as leadership meetings within each of the 12 counties.  All of this is in preparation for the scenario planning process which we will be launching in 2013.

You can access a copy of the presentation at our NEO 101 page.

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Driving more…Driving alone

November 6, 2012 in Conditions and Trends, Connections, News

Connections Work Stream

The spreading out of Northeast Ohio’s population has occurred in tandem with an increase in lower density development. The options for meeting the transit needs of residents from areas of low-density development are different from residents from high-density areas. Public transit is most effective and efficient when serving high-density areas. Transit in low-density areas requires more routes to reach fewer riders. As a result, lower density development leads to an increased dependence on private automobiles.

Daily Vehicle Miles Traveled, 2000-2010

These maps show by county how the daily vehicle miles traveled (DVMT) by Northeast Ohio’s residents have changed from 2000 to 2010.

Daily Vehicle Miles Traveled 2000

Daily Vehicle Miles Traveled 2010

DVMT increased sufficiently to move four counties – Medina, Wayne, Summit, and Stark counties – into higher categories of miles. In 2000, only Cuyahoga County experienced more than 15 million daily vehicle miles traveled.  By 2010, Summit County had joined Cuyahoga County in the highest category of DVMT. Only Geauga and Ashtabula counties maintained their position in the lowest category of DVMT from 2000 to 2010.

As this table below illustrates shows, the majority of the region drives alone to work. Single-occupant personal vehicles are the primary form of travel in Northeast Ohio and they cause congestion, especially during rush hours and along heavily traveled corridors, such as I-76, I-77, I-271, and I-480. Commute time to work on average has increased.

County Drive Alone %
Lorain 84.5%
Medina 86.3%
Wayne 78.7%
Cuyahoga 79.2%
Summit 86.1%
Stark 85.4%
Lake 86.8%
Geauga 80.4%
Portage 83.5%
Ashtabula 83.9%
Trumbull 86.7%
Mahoning 86.5%

Percentage of Drive Alone Trips by County Source: 2005-2009 ACS

 Visit the Connections section of our Conditions and Trends Platform to learn more.

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A Letter to the Region

November 1, 2012 in Communications, Conditions and Trends, News

As a stakeholder in Northeast Ohio, you and your input can help to guide our region, to preserve and build upon the things we value most and ensure our communities thrive.

Population Density 1970

Our organization, the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC), which is a collaboration of 33 organizations from across the 12-county Northeast Ohio region, understands and shares this responsibility. To help Northeast Ohio leaders and residents ensure that our region is sustainable, resilient, and vibrant, we have created a tool to help us better understand the existing conditions of our region. This tool is the NEOSCC Conditions and Trends Platform, located online at cat.neoscc.org.

The Conditions and Trends Platform is a groundbreaking, comprehensive compilation of research about economic development, the environment, housing and transportation in 12 Northeast Ohio counties: Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull and Wayne. It helps Northeast Ohioans better understand the region’s challenges and research solutions for its future. The Platform is primarily online and will serve two crucial functions:

• In the coming months, the Platform will be the foundation of Vibrant NEO 2040, a region-wide visioning and engagement effort by NEOSCC to spur the development of a regional vision and tools that will help Northeast Ohio create a sustainable, resilient and vibrant future.
• In the coming years, we envision the Platform as a living, breathing compendium of what we know about our region that has been collaboratively developed by and for Northeast Ohioans.

Here you can find the written Executive Summary of the online Conditions and Trends Platform. This Summary provides an overview of the themes and findings that arose from our research. We know that you are busy, but we urge you to please take a few minutes to read the Conditions and Trends Executive Summary and consider the themes and findings we’ve identified. We believe that you will find, as we did, just how relevant these findings are to a broad range of issues facing Northeast Ohio.

Then, we hope you will visit the Platform at cat.neoscc.org – and invite others to do so as well. And we hope that you, and those who look to you as a leader, will view it, review it, comment on it, share it but most of all use it.

 

Population Density 2010

Over the next two months, we will also be visiting each Northeast Ohio county to discuss these findings with stakeholders from all across the region as a part of NEOSCC’s Vibrant Northeast Ohio engagement activities.

We appreciate your consideration. We look forward to hearing your insights into our region and its future and working with you on creating a vibrant region.

Thank you.

Hunter Morrison, NEOSCC Executive Director and Jason Segedy, NEOSCC Board Chair

 

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Learn and Share: Are environmental conditions in Northeast Ohio getting better or worse?

October 31, 2012 in Conditions and Trends, Environment

Photo by Peggy Turbett, The Plain Dealer

With the weather, rainfall and flooding in the news, we thought it an appropriate time to discuss the Environment Work Stream findings.  Are environmental conditions in Northeast Ohio getting better or worse? The answer to that question depends a lot on the type of environmental issue being considered.  Here is a bit of a summary for rainy day reading.

Since the 1970s, the region has made a lot of progress cleaning up what is typically thought of as “pollution.” Industry has reduced emissions from smokestacks and effluent pipes. Wastewater treatment plants are doing a much better job treating sewage. And some of dirtiest sources of industrial pollution have closed down or moved to places with lower environmental standards. As a result, the air and water are cleaner than they used to be.

But other types of environmental issues have been harder to address. These are “nonpoint” sources of pollution — sources that are numerous and dispersed rather than a single point that is simple to regulate and control. For example, the region’s lakes and streams are impacted by polluted stormwater runoff, which flows off countless streets, parking lots, and farm fields. Similarly, the big problem affecting the region’s air quality now is the motor vehicle pollution from more than two million cars and trucks.

Environments Work Stream

These nonpoint sources are a big reason why the region struggles to make further environmental progress. Most Northeast Ohio counties still fail to meet federal air quality standards for ozone and fine particulates. Flooding from stormwater runoff is a persistent and costly problem. And there are disturbing signs that the health of Lake Erie, which had been improving for several decades, may be deteriorating again (lack of data further frustrates understanding of potential trends).

It is important to note that these environmental problems are related to patterns of land use. As development has spread out over more land, there are more paved surfaces and rooftops to shed rain, and people have to drive farther to reach far-flung destinations. The spread of development also affects the diversity of plants and wildlife. And it impacts emerging environmental issues, such as the rising level of carbon emissions that impact the region’s future precipitation patterns and conditions for agricultural production.

Visit our Conditions and Trends Platform to Learn More!

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