Activists, City Council members knock mayor's decision to close Public Square to buses

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - With just ten days left to repay the $12 million sum requested by the Federal Transit Authority, several Cleveland City Council members and local activists gathered Monday night to publicly blame Mayor Frank Jackson for the decision to close Public Square to buses.

The FTA has given the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) until Jan. 19 to repay $12 million in federal grant money used to pay for the Euclid Corridor project. The FTA alleged in a letter sent in December that closing Public Square to buses is a violation of the grant agreement.

Dozens of people held signs reading #transitbelongs at the Jan. 9 City Council meeting, where activists from the group Clevelanders for Public Transit said that the mayor is now responsible for the $12 million fine.

"It is the continual recalcitrance of our leadership and our mayor by not opening," said councilman Jeffrey Johnson.

"One man in one building in one office should not have that much power," added councilman Zack Reed.

Reed plans to introduce legislation that would not allow any taxpayer money to contribute to the repayment of the $12 million.

"That conversation to renovate Public Square was done in the open, the renovation was done in the open, the money was given in the open," he said. "But the decision to keep Superior Avenue closed was done in a back room in one office by one man, so that's the source that we really need to be talking to."

Jackson has said that Public Square should remain closed for safety and terrorism concerns. When asked what he wanted to say to taxpayers and what he thought about the council members' comments, Jackson replied to every question by saying, "consider the source."

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