Vibrant NEO Champion Awards
The 2020 Vibrant NEO Champion Awards application period is now open! Read the Call for Entries and submit an application if you know an award-worthy project. The ceremony will be held virtually on November 19, 2020.
Vibrant NEO annually recognizes projects, programs, and policies conducted by communities, business, nonprofits, and civic groups within the 12-county Northeast Ohio region that demonstrate leadership in the advancement of the Vibrant NEO vision and its four major themes:
- Strengthen Established Communities
- Increase Transportation Choice
- Preservice and Protect Natural Resources
- Promote Collaboration and Efficiency
The 2019 Vibrant NEO Champion Awards Luncheon was held on Thursday, November 14 at Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs.
2019 Regional Sustainable Awards
Aspen Place Transit Oriented Development Project
Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization
- Aspen Place provides 40 units of affordable housing and ground level commercial space in Cleveland’s EcoVillage with easy access to transit facilities. Additionally, Detroit Shoreway CDO has partnered with Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to provide free monthly transit passes to residents.
- This $10.7 million project is the first new construction housing project along Lorain Avenue in the Detroit Shoreway Neighborhood, and will ensure long-term affordability in this rapidly growing community for residents earning 30% to 60% of the area’s median income.
- Award accepted by Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization Director of Real Estate Development Anya Kulcsar.
Waterfront Improvement Plan
City of Euclid
- A decade of public-private partnerships established a $30 million vision for the Lake Erie shoreline in Euclid, of which only 6% was publicly accessible. Through land donations and easements from private property owners, the city is building a trail along the water’s edge, promoting nature-based shoreline stabilization and habitat reclamation while also enhancing recreation and tourism opportunities.
- The project will elevate property values, quality of life, and overall attractiveness and serves as a model for all lakefront communities.
- Award accepted by Euclid Mayer Kirsten Holzheimer-Gail.
Transforming Campus, Transforming a Neighborhood
Cuyahoga Community College and City Architecture
- A 1960s-era concrete plaza over a sub-surface parking garage kept the downtown Tri-C Metro Campus disconnected from the surrounding community. Working with City Architecture, the college redesigned the campus plaza network to align the mission of providing a welcoming community asset for learning and gathering, tying the campus and its surrounding neighborhood together.
- The new public space now encourages students and all community members to stay on campus and interact, rather than driving from home to class and back home without creating a sense of place or community.
- Award accepted by City Architecture Principal Alex Pesta.
2019 Regional Collaboration Award Winners
BUILD – SMART 2
City of Youngstown, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, and others
- Public and private partners throughout the region collaborated on a successful federal grant application for the BUILD program that awards funds for infrastructure projects to stimulate economic development. The project will enhance mobility, improve safety, and integrate technology into a modern and efficient multimodal transportation system in Downtown Youngstown.
- SMART 2 will connect major regional anchor institutions including Youngstown State University, Mercy Health, Youngstown Business Incubator, Eastern Gateway Community College, and the WRTA Federal Station.
- Award accepted by Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown.
Valley Parkway Connector Trail
- In 2018, Cleveland Metroparks opened this six-mile missing link in the trail network between Brecksville and Mill Stream Run Reservations that was laid out over 100 years ago as part of the vision for an inter-connected Emerald Necklace. With the gap filled, cyclists and pedestrians will have 33 consecutive miles of paved, off-road trails for fun and safe commuting and recreation.
- The trail also connects to a larger system including the Towpath Trail that will connect Lake Erie, Cuyahoga Valley National Park and other amenities.
- Award accepted by Cleveland Metroparks Chief Executive Officer Brian Zimmerman.
Regional Stormwater Management Program
Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District
- The sewer district works with 56 communities across multiple counties on stormwater-related issues to strengthen communities and preserve and protect natural resources. Watershed organizations across the Cuyahoga, Chagrin, and Rocky Rivers, as well as several other Lake Erie tributaries are also regular partners. Since 2015, the sewer district has worked with these partners to restore and stabilize nearly two miles of streams, dredge 40,425 tons of sediment, reconnect 6.6 acres of floodplain, and repair or replace over 1,300 culverts.
- Working with dozens of partners across multiple counties and a 476-mile stormwater system is a perfect example of what we can achieve when we work together in the region.
- Award accepted by NEORSD Director of Watershed Programs Frank Greenland.
2019 Individual Champion Award Winners
- David’s dedication to regional collaboration has spanned more than 30 years. He has founded numerous organizations and projects, including EcoCity Cleveland, the Greater Ohio Policy Center, the City of Cleveland’s Office of Sustainability, and the Cleveland EcoVillage and the Green City Blue Lake Institute at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Jeff Ramsey and Jenny Spencer
- Jeff and Jenny have combined to provide invaluable leadership to the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. In addition to the award-winning Aspen Place project, they have led an organization that has renovated historic buildings, created affordable housing, attracted new businesses, supported the establishment of three theaters, beautified streetscapes, and inspired great public space and art.