Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb has proposed legislation to authorize spending $1.5 million in city funds to remove the ghastly jersey barriers on Public Square and replace them with retractable bollards.
The estimated all-in cost of removing the barriers on Superior Avenue, repairing the streetscape that they've reportedly scuffed up and otherwise damaged as they've sat for five years and imbued Public Square with all the charm and urban effervescence of I-480 near Transportation Boulevard, and installing a new bollard system will be $3 million. The city's contribution will, per Bibb's hopes, leverage additional private and philanthropic contributions and an investment from RTA.
"Public Square should be the people’s park," Bibb said in a Friday news release, "but for too long, jersey barriers have got in the way. Today, my administration is taking the first step towards removing these barriers and restoring Public Square to its original intent – to serve as a meeting place in the heart of our city."
Public Square has always been that. The problem was that the jersey barriers were unsightly. A brand new $50 million Square was being deliberately brutalized by mayor Frank Jackson, who many presumed was pouty because local activists succeeded in getting buses back on Superior. Jackson and his benefactors viewed buses on Public Square the way everybody else views the barriers: as eyesores.
The jersey barriers have served, therefore, as enduring evidence of Jackson's pettiness and vindictiveness. They were premised on his alleged fears of lone-wolf terrorists driving into crowds, fears thoroughly debunked or otherwise reclassified by local experts and the federal government. And Jackson kept them there until a permanent solution, (bollards), could be paid for. In five years, Jackson never bothered to try to find funding, something Bibb has evidently done in less than two months.
The Group Plan Commission, the nonprofit created by Jackson to develop downtown's signature public spaces, will be tasked with the bollard update, a "redesign" in the language of the news release, and will have authorization to do so as soon as city council gives them the green light. Downtown councilman Kerry McCormack is fully in support. So is Group Plan Commission Chairman Tony Coyne.
"Group Plan Commission applauds Mayor Justin Bibb’s expedient introduction of legislation to improve the safety, security and aesthetics in Public Square by removing the jersey barriers in Superior Avenue and planters at the corner entryways into Public Square with an attractive, removable bollard system," Coyne said.
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