spar over proposed I-90 interchange
By Rebecca Turman
Published Aug. 29, 2007
An Aug. 22 public
meeting about a proposed I-90 interchange in Avon at Nagel Road
became heated with public comments, heavy with an east (Cuyahoga
County) vs. west (Lorain County) mentality.
The grand room
of the Stocker Center at Lorain County Community College was filled
with 100-plus community members and regional officials convening
to discuss the heavily debated interstate interchange.
Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency is scheduled to vote on the interchange
on Sept. 14. The public forum was held to update community members
on the status of the review.
was made by NOACA Executive Director Howard Maier and the economic
impact analysis study was presented by D.B. Hartt, Silverlode Consulting
and Oxbow, who have been working on the interchange study since
authorized by NOACA in May.
of D.B. Hartt explained to the audience that the study “focused
on ‘likely’ outcomes, not ‘hoped for’ outcomes.”
D.B. Hartt, Silverlode and Oxbow, as explained at previous NOACA
meetings, believe that the interchange will clearly “have positive
benefits to Avon and no material adverse impacts to the region or
Westlake Planning and Economic Development Director
Bob Parry questioned the final conclusion of the study – “that it
won’t adversely affect the region.”
concern that building the interchange would result in an “over-supply”
of retail in the region.
“In the area
of industrial development, in Westlake, we now have 367,000 square
feet available for lease,” Parry said. “Over the last decade or
so, the city of Westlake has lost five (industrial companies to
Avon) because of tax abatements. Out of those five companies, four
of those buildings are vacant today – 200,000 square feet. You don’t
get backfill in old buildings. There will be vacancies, will be
a loss in taxes (should the interchange be built). I don’t agree
at all (that it won’t affect the region).”
In an Aug. 22
letter to NOACA, Parry cited a draft study showing the number of
jobs coming to Avon if the interchange and related zoning changes
are made would be roughly double the number of jobs Avon will get
if the interchange is not built (7,949 vs. 14,525).
“The $64 million
question is this: Where will all these jobs come from?” Parry asked
in the letter. “Will they be new businesses, business moves from
out of state? Is it from growth in the economic development of the
region or merely shifts in economic activity and jobs from surrounding
in the letter that Avon’s gains will likely be at the expense of
its neighboring communities, Westlake in particular.
Parry told West
Life that Cuyahoga County’s higher sales tax, which will rise to
7.75 percent Oct. 1, will tempt shoppers searching for big-ticket
items to head west to Lorain County, where the rate is currently
6.25 percent. (Lorain County residents will vote this November on
whether to repeal a pending .25 percent increase.)
of Silverlode, responded to Parry’s concerns.
with some of the relocations,” he said. “Incentives tend to be short-lived.
Most industrial companies move because the facility doesn’t meet
their needs anymore…If there is a weakness in what you have to offer,
then you need to address that.”
Dennis Clough said he spoke with many of the businesses that left
(their decisions to move) were based on incentives,” he said.
addressed some of the other issues he has with the interchange,
including the Cleveland Clinic’s intent to build a facility in the
“If that interchange
is not built, there will be no Cleveland Clinic there,” he said.
spoke about the road improvements that would be needed once the
new interchange went in.
“It’s easy to
put in an interchange without addressing ancillary roads,” he said.
“We are still spending millions on Crocker.”
area officials spoke during the meeting.
Jim Scott, a
Bay Village councilman, said the city “strongly supports the interchange.”
During the meeting,
North Ridgeville Mayor Dave Gillock expressed his support for the
proposed interchange. Though Gillock said the new interchange would
“negatively impact traffic flow on Lear Nagle Road,” he said it
would ultimately help North Ridgeville residents get to and from
work more quickly, as many work in Cuyahoga County and need I-90
“I will protest,
with all my ability, any consideration of sharing any new taxes
generated with Cuyahoga County,” Gillock said in response to the
rumor that Cuyahoga County will be looking for tax kick-backs from
the developed area should the interchange get the go-ahead. Gillock
mentioned that the idea was ridiculous, adding that Lorain County
didn’t ask for money from Westlake when Crocker Park was built.
Cleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli questioned whether
population shifts were calculated into the economic shifts during
sound coming out of Cleveland isn’t measurable?” he asked the consultants.
CEO and general manager of the Greater Cleveland RTA, had some concerns
regarding public transportation about the study.
“I really think
a point has been missed,” Calabrese said. “I know, about a week
before this (new interchange) opens, I’ll be getting calls saying
‘I need to get to work.’ We need to provide some associated public
Several Avon residents spoke out during the meeting.
Karen Quisenberry, who lives on Schwartz Road, said currently there
is a huge flow of traffic coming from North Ridgeville, and traffic
backs up from Detroit Road to Schwartz Road at high impact times.
An Avon resident
on Stoney Ridge Road told the consultants she didn’t think a new
interchange would help traffic.
“The only road
that we have all the way through Avon, east and west, is Detroit
Road,” she said. “We need another road that goes from Westlake all
the way through Sheffield Village.”
Earlier in the
meeting, George Bliss, of Avon suggested that Westlake and Avon
look at opening up Just Imagine Drive (Avon) to Clemens Road (Westlake).
“I think that’s
an option that needs to be looked at,” Hartt said, adding that he
didn’t believe it would qualify as an adequate substitute for a
director of Lorain County Development, said, “Lorain County supports
In the past
weeks, the interchange also received formal support of the Cleveland
Clinic and Lorain County Engineer Ken Carney.
Cuyahoga vs. Lorain
Rumors of Cuyahoga County NOACA board members exercising
their right for a weighted vote during the final decision of the
interchange were addressed during the meeting as well.
“There is a
provision in NOACA’s code of regulation for voting that goes back
20 years,” Maier said. “While it is permitted (due to Cuyahoga County
holding two-thirds of the population in the NOACA region), I can
only recall once or twice, in 19 years, that it was used. I can’t
predict whether we’ll have a weighted vote or not. We’ll see where
it goes. Just because you have a whip doesn’t mean you’ll use it.”
will submit a final study to the 38 NOACA board members from Lorain,
Cuyahoga, Medina, Geauga and Lake counties on Sept. 7, giving them
one week to review before a decision is finalized.
For more information on the progress of the interchange
study and upcoming NOACA schedules regarding the interchange, visit
(Reporter Kevin Kelley contributed to this