CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -Every year the American Planning Association (APA) names five Great Public Spaces, five Great Streets and five Great Neighborhoods and this year the $50 million redesign of Cleveland’s Public Square was on the list.
“One of the key aspects of Public Square that the committee recognized is that it now places a priority on connecting the community and emphasizes people, and is no longer a pass through for getting from point A to point B,” according to Roberta Rewers with the APA.
It’s that connecting that has been under debate between Mayor Frank Jackson and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA).
The original plan was to close Ontario St. access through Public Square, but leave Superior open to bus traffic only.
In 2016 when it came time to open the park to bus traffic, Jackson decided to nix that idea siting safety concerns over a possible terror attack on the square.
It took until March of 2017, and a threat from the Federal Government to take back funding, before Jackson finally allowed bus traffic back.
To get the award the project had to be nominated by a member of the APA.
“The nominations are vetted by our Great Places Committee that represents planners from around the country. They review the nominations based on the criteria that is listed on this website,” Rewers said.
Even with the announcement, public perception is still mixed.
“Great Places designees will often generate conversations,” Rewers said.
With the designation by the APA, Public Square, no matter how you feel about it, is in rare company.
“To date, APA has recognized 290 Great Places in America, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” Rewers said. “There have been a total of eight great places designees in Ohio to date including West Side Market, Shaker Boulevard and German Village.”