Clevelanders awoke Friday morning to a spring sun and the promise of change in their long benighted Great Lakes village. Even the St. Patrick's Day hangovers throbbed at a gentler pitch. For the jersey barriers on Public Square, the Frank Jackson eyesores themselves, were gone at last! Justin Bibb, the young change-maker and status-quo disruptor—fresh off a bold green-tie-blue-shirt holiday combo—was making good on his campaign guarantee.
Folks gushed in gratitude.
Such a small thing, and yet such a powerful symbol of progress...
thank you @MayorBibb thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou https://t.co/7KFutZQKy1— Dan Moulthrop 🇺🇦 (@danmoulthrop) March 18, 2022
Alas, according to City Hall spokeswoman Sarah Johnson, (promptly responding after Scene emailed to ask if our motherloving eyes deceived us), the barriers were merely removed for the St. Patrick's Day parade. They will be back up later today.
This reality check was met with groans of bafflement and distress, Scene's among them. Why even bother? Everyone wanted to know. Look at the photos above. Who are the jersey barriers even protecting? And if they are removed for special events, the very occasions where large numbers of people congregate and would theoretically be vulnerable to the vehicular attacks of lone-wolf terrorists, what possible purpose can they serve? What is the point of this whole dumb saga? No one understands.
That's because the jersey barriers cannot be understood rationally. They are the residue of Frank Jackson's pettiness and they need not be countenanced one moment more. The barriers were recognized immediately by transit activists as retaliation, Jackson's vindictive attempt to sully the Square after he was forced to open Superior Avenue to buses. (The only question is whether he was acting out a personal revenge plot or doing so at the behest of Forest City and downtown property owners who long dreamed of a "unified" Square.) That's it.
Legislation is today being considered by the Cleveland Planning Commission that will allow council to authorize the Group Plan Commission to construct a retractable bollard system on and beneath the Square. It will devote $1.5 million in city money to the project and anticipates additional private and philanthropic contributions.
That's well and good, but in the meantime—it could be at least a year before a bollard system is installed—the city needn't bother pretending Jackson's jersey barriers represent anything other than spite. Remove them.
Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.