Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Archive for June, 2010

Cleveland: Angry residents fight highway noise wall

without comments

Here’s the coverage from WKYC of the ODOT debacle on I-71.

CLEVELAND- Interstate 71 between Fulton and West 25th Street is on Ohio’s top 25 list of noisy stretches of highways.

But the Department of Transportation’s wish to put in noise walls is sparking a very noisy debate.

The Brooklyn Centre neighborhood that surrounds the highway is battling to keep its identity and avoid being confused with Old Brooklyn.

"We are the gateway to the city of Cleveland. (Those walls) look like a welcome to East Berlin, " neighborhood activist Tim Ferris said.

ODOT wants to put in faux brick concrete walls already installed further south on the highway.

"We’re not a typical suburb. We don’t want a typical suburban noise wall," said Councilman Brian Cummings.

Trees abutting the access roads were cut down this week sparking more outrage.

Opponents say ODOT needs to have some green-friendly alternatives for noise abatement.

They are proposing a vegetation noise wall concept being used in Europe and Canada.  It’s about a dollar-cheaper per square foot than concrete. But ODOT’s concerned about possible maintenance costs.

ODOT says it will study green alternatives for the future. But it wants to act fast to build walls to make sure more than $2 million of Federal money is not lost.

"What they are proposing is something that has not been tested or proven in Ohio," said ODOT spokeswoman Jocelynn Clemings.

"I’d like to get a say. I’m a taxpayer. It’s going to make us more forgotten than we are now," said resident Laura McShane.

Some residents who live close to the highway want the walls.

Awilda Soto’s backyard is a showplace of statues and landscaping. She’s lived next to the highway for 25 years.

"I like it because we’re not going to have as much wind or noise and will have privacy.  I wish it here tomorrow," she said.

This situation is the latest of many where residents or businesses feel ODOT is pushing its own agenda without regard for their concerns.

ODOT rejected proposals to put a bike line on the Innerbelt Bridge.

Midtown businesses are upset ODOT plans to eliminate Innerbelt interchanges they regard as essential routes for their customers.

A task force recently recommended ODOT update its transportation planning process to allow more consideration of human, economic and environmental impacts of what it builds.

Cleveland: Angry residents fight highway noise wall

Written by Gloria Ferris

June 18th, 2010 at 11:41 pm

Posted in general

6:30 PM tonight, Friday, June 18th: Flash Mob in Brooklyn Centre protesting ODOT’s marring of our landscape, I-71 access road. Be there!

with 4 comments

I just got this email from Tim regarding a flash mob protesting the destruction by ODOT district 12 of the gateway to our park neighborhood. Please, be there. We’re going to try FaceBooking this as well. It should be a salutary way to start a Friday evening.



I just got off the telephone with Tom Beres of WKYC Channel 3 News. He has time in his schedule tonight to do a spot at 6:30 PM (1830 if you want to think this is a military operation) about ODOT ‘s unwelcome incursion into the previously green and peaceful Brooklyn Centre.

We need as many people out there as the berm and the access roads can handle–there’s more room now since there are fewer trees. We will be assembling between Fulton Road and Pearl (West 25th Street); I will try to get police support to control traffic and keep things moving. (We will be past the rush hour.)

All of us in Brooklyn Centre are affected by what ODOT has done by destroying the trees against our wishes. Everybody visiting the zoo or MetroHealth is affected. People entering the city from the western approach are affected. It is not too late to make ODOT put the trees back and make a natural, green solution for our noise problem.

Please, show up, especially if you live in  Brooklyn Centre or in Tremont and will have to pass by the enormous monstrosity of  ODOT’s 20-foot high walls daily for the next few years, closing our neighborhood off, limiting admittance of light and air–the negative impacts are many and varied.

If you despise government overspending and pork, show up. These things are 165% of the cost of a superior green solution, at least.

If you despise bad design, show up. Canada and Germany and now Vermont have viable green solutions that look and function better than this ODOT concrete crap.

If you are offended at having government workers operate with arrogance and impunity, and immunity from adverse consequences, show up. These ODOT punks answer to no one; Lee Fisher and Ted Strickland can’t control them; having ODOT determine our neighborhood’s future is tantamount to being walked by your dog.

If you think first impressions count, show up. Brookside Park, the ZOO, Brooklyn Centre, Riverside Cemetery, and MetroHealth are all part of the same visual approach, welcoming people to the neighborhood and to the city. These hot concrete walls, devoid of trees, change the entire visual statement. Instead of saying welcome to our park neighborhood, welcome to the Forest City, they shout out, Welcome to Cleveland, Now go home.

Again, we’re getting together to get our pictures taken, all of us, at 6:30 PM tonight on the access road to the south of I-71, behind Riverside Avenue, entering from Fulton and proceeding towards Pearl.

This is what the young people call a Flash Mob. We will assemble, have the TV people do what they can, get our pictures taken, and demobilize.

The more the merrier. See you there. Car pool, ride bikes, walk, ride motorcycles, do what you can to conserve space, but show up a little prior to 6:30 PM.

–Tim Ferris & Gloria Ferris

(writing to assemble a media event for Tom Beres, which, as he pointed out, rhymes, sort of–Ferris/Beres)

Written by Gloria Ferris

June 18th, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Posted in general

from the ODOT site, some search results: “waste, fraud, and abuse”

with 3 comments

If you feel that, in the handling of our genuine, sincere, authentic objections to the concrete sound-barrier walls in the Brooklyn Centre and Tremont neighborhoods, we have been given short shrift, been ignored, been given the run-around, or unfairly foreclosed from the process of determining our own destiny, then perhaps you might want to click the link at the end to report your suspicion of waste and/or fraud and/or abuse. We are located in ODOT’s district 12, which has a recent history of mismanagement, fraud, kickbacks, and theft.

Why else would a transportation department of a state want to pay 165% more than a green, sensible solution would cost, unless there were arrangements of which the public knew nothing? We’ve been objecting as neighborhood groups  to the concrete barrier walls since 2005, and yet ODOT seems intent on delivering them, despite our objections, and they refuse to investigate greener solutions.

All this is happening in a department where the director’s bio at its outset advertises her position on green issues as being in consonance with the governor’s (emphasis mine):

Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jolene M. Molitoris strengthens Governor Strickland’s commitment to moving Ohio into a prosperous new world, by investing in a safer, more multi-modal, greener transportation system to create jobs and revitalize Ohio’s cities and towns.

Seems this new world, too, is determined to handle the natives roughly. Here are some guidelines for us native types for registering a report of suspected waste, fraud, and abuse:

U.S. DOT, OIG Hotline Page 1 of 2

OIG Hotline Complaint Center
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) maintains a Hotline to facilitate the reporting of allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement in U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) programs or operations. You may report such allegations through the contact information listed on this page.
Allegations may be reported by DOT employees, contractors, or the general public. OIG’s Hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is operated by a third party contractor.
The OIG Hotline is obligated to expeditiously forward all safety-related complaints to DOT’s safety regulatory agencies.

Issues that should be reported:

Contract, Procurement, and Grant Fraud
Environment, Health, and Safety Violations
Computer Crimes
Product Substitution and Suspect/Counterfeit Parts
Bribery, Kickbacks, and Gratuities
False Statements and False Claims
Conflicts of Interest and Ethics Violations
Travel Fraud
Theft and/or Abuse of Government property
Stimulus Abuse: American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 (ARRA) violations
Other Violations of Federal Laws and Regulations

Callers are encouraged to provide relevant and specific details of their complaints, including the identity of the person, company, or organization alleged to have engaged in wrongdoing; a description of the alleged impropriety; the DOT facility and program affected by the alleged misconduct; contract numbers; date(s) of alleged wrongdoing; how the caller is aware of the alleged impropriety; the identity of potential witnesses; and the identity and location of supporting documentation.

Complaint processing:
Upon receipt of a specific allegation of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement, the OIG may take any one of the following actions: open an investigation or audit; refer the matter to DOT management for appropriate review and action; or refer the allegation to another Federal agency. Allegations with limited specificity or merit may be held in abeyance until further, specific details are reported.

Callers may remain anonymous:
Individuals who contact the Hotline, via telephone or letter, are not required to identify themselves to the Hotline operator. However, persons who report allegations are encouraged to identify themselves in the event additional questions arise as the OIG evaluates or pursues their allegations.

The Office of Inspector General will protect the identity of complainants to the maximum extent possible by law. Confidentiality is established by Section 7(b) of the Inspector General Act of 1978, which precludes the IG from disclosing the identity of a DOT employee who reports an allegation or provides
information, without the employee’s consent, unless the IG determines that disclosure is unavoidable during the course of the investigation. Non-Department of Transportation employees who report allegations may specifically request confidentiality. 6/25/2009

If you want to report an allegation of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement at the U.S. Department of Transportation, you may do so by using one of the following methods:
On-line Complaint Form
Call 1-800-424-9071 (toll free).
Fax your concerns to 540-373-2090.
E-mail your concerns to
Mail your concerns to: DOT Inspector General, P.O. Box 708, Fredericksburg, VA 22404

Other Resources:
1. Our online privacy policy can be found at
2. Inquiries about DOT press releases, programs and operations, publications, and energy information data can be made at the DOT home page or by calling the DOT Public Affairs Office at 202-366-5575.
3. If you would like to locate a DOT employee, please call the operator at 202-366-4000.
4. Questions about motor vehicle registration or state drivers’ licenses should be directed to state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. A listing of state Departments of Transportation may be found here.
5. If you are concerned about motor vehicle recalls or would like to file a complaint about defective motor vehicle, you should contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or visit the NHTSA Hotline website.
6. For questions involving your rights when moving household goods, please visit our Household Goods Movers Media Room.
7. If you are seeking consumer-related information, is a "one-stop" link to a broad range of Federal information resources available on-line. It is designed so that you can locate information by category, such as Food, Health, Product Safety, Your Money, and Transportation. Each category has subcategories to direct you to areas within individual Federal
websites containing related information.
8. If you are a Federal employee or job applicant with concerns regarding prohibited personnel practices, including non AR A whistleblower reprisals; Hatch Act violations; or other workplace improprieties, please visit the Office of Special Counsel’s website at for more information.
9. If you have a safety-related complaint concerning FAA, such as an aircraft incident or violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR), you may contact FAA’s Safety Hotline, which is open 24 hours a day, at (800) 255-1111. Their website is
10. If you feel your employer or a driver is violating the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and/or the Hazardous Materials Regulations, or if you have been victimized by a household goods moving company, broker, or any other carrier, you may file a complaint with the FMCSA National Consumer Complaint Database, You may also call 1-888-DOT-SAFT (368-7238), Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 AM and 9:00 PM EST, to speak to a representative who will assist you in filing a complaint.
11. Additional information regarding ARRA and related whistleblower protection can be found at,, and at
U.S. DOT, OIG Hotline Page 2 of 2 6/25/2009

Search Results: fraud and abuse

Written by Gloria Ferris

June 16th, 2010 at 11:35 am

Posted in general

Tuesday’s ODOT thread about best practices, and bringing current practices into compliance

with 10 comments

The thread left off around 10 PM last night, and continues with Darren’s post just after that, carrying forward to Tuesday. Frank Mestnik found out that The Living Wall costs $750 a meter. At $2,000,000 a mile, ODOT’s solution should cost $1,242 a meter. The ODOT solution is 165% of The Living Wall solution, and we still have not verified the cost of the wall installation at this proposed site. The contract, we hear, was awarded to Great Lakes Construction, presumably the one from Hinckley

1 meter = 3.2808399 feet

More about calculator.

Here is the ongoing conversation:


Johanna and Joe (

Attached is copy of the ODOT Sound Barrier survey that I circulated with Tom Sorge from ODOT in August. We spent the evening covering a large majority of the targeted area.

My perception of the outcome, though never confirmed, was that the survey participants were split fairly evenly and those farther east in the area far more in favor of seeing the barriers installed. However, I was definitely pushing those I spoke with to consider the long term implications and alternatives. So long as that information was presented, it seemed many were interested in green or similar solutions.

I guess it should be noted that this is in the hands of an entity that believes greening efforts are not considered a viable abatement strategy and that trees are a deadly hazard to "their" roads. I’d be happy to share more information and research if necessary.


ODOT Noise Abatement Options Questionnaire_Page_1 ODOT Noise Abatement Options Questionnaire_Page_2 ODOT Noise Abatement Options Questionnaire_Page_3



Dear XXXXX–,

We’ve taken the thread of yesterday’s emails concerning ODOT’s surreptitious handling of the sound-wall issue  and assembled it on a few of our blogs. One of them is here:

We believe this discussion should be expanded in that it affects not only those people with contiguous properties but everybody who lives in a neighborhood and who would have to drive by high-prioced bad design every day, never knowing what was on the other side of the wall. We happen to have a park neighborhood which we are reclaiming and restoring, and we are proud of what we have; we don’t want to be walled off by expensive, intrusive structures. We are still waiting for a presentation of natural alternatives to abate sound–this is ostensibly the purpose of the ODOT walls.

What we do here in Brooklyn Centre by way of design impacts the entire city, and these walls are at odds with a city and a state that claim they are "green" and cost-conscious and wanting to attract people who have those same values. We are the gateway to the city, we have much green space, and we can be more attactive than we already are if ODOT  would augment the barriers we already have by installing more natural barriers; the fact that ODOT has already maintained the side of the right-of-way poorly is no reason to erect walls to hide a record of bad practice.

The cost of natural barriers is, I have been told, about 1/5th of the cost of the artificial barriers, which I was also told cost approximately $2 million dollars per mile, on one side. This is an election year; cost, waste, extravagance, pork, insensitivity, and plain old just not listening to constituents can really be meaty issues. Certain people have offered to contact Strickland and Fisher on these points on behalf of those of us who want more sensible solutions than what ODOT is forcing on us.

The surveys conducted by ODOT are another issue; they seem slanted and need to be vetted to make sure they are more fair. Why are they on such close hold, even with the trees about to be cut any moment?

How well we implement from this point forward has a huge impact on our future; wasteful spending and poorly designed installations are things we must put behind us. Simply stated, we cannot afford dumb stuff at high prices. We would like to show some intelligence in what we do and how we live.

The city would do well to have guidelines in place for intelligent design, friendly to the environment, in consonance with the existing built environment. Has Watterson’s office dealt with this at all, and if so, what was the outcome?

Anyway, please share the synopsis of yesterday’s thread as widely as possible with people interested in seeing a living city emerge and thrive, with people who consider the barrier walls something akin to a "concentration camp."

With the money we save with a natural sound-barrier installation in Brooklyn Centre, perhaps we can repair the walls out by the airport, which are a regional disgrace and which should have been maintained long ago.

If there is no money for maintenance and repair, why should any city allow the state to install these in the first place? What are the incentives, because all we can see from our vantage point are negatives.



Dear Frank:
I just wanted to let you know that the records you requested will be ready later today.  As you also know, there is a meeting being scheduled regarding the issue for today.  Hopefully, we’ll have the records to you prior to that meeting.

As part of ODOT’s 2010-2011 Business Plan, we are committed to using the best environmentally-sensitivity practices in our operations and pilot new green initiatives as ODOT leads by example in embracing environmental stewardship and reducing energy consumption.  I’ve passed this along to our Office of Innovation, Partnerships and Energy and ask that it be something they look into further for possible consideration in future projects.  We would be very interested in working with Mr. Ferris in the future regarding the initiative.

From my very quick Web search of the topic, there appears to be very little research on Living Walls for noise abatement purposes and even less information on the cost of such a proposal.  In fact, so far, the only research done on a Green or Living noise wall was done by WisDOT entitled “Living Noise Wall – Final Report" dated January 1998.  A failure in the plastic cribbing caused a collapse of a portion (100’) of the structure.  We will certainly need more research to ensure this type of wall meets federal requirements for addressing noise conditions and can withstand northeast Ohio conditions.

Although we didn’t propose a living wall for the location along I-71, we do have a research project underway that will build and test a section of green wall along a 400 foot section of Interstate 70 in Licking County near Columbus.  That test section will use the "Deltalok" system which is similar to what Mr. Ferris proposed.  Here is the Web site for more information:  It’s a different concept than this one, so down the road, we can study an option like this one to compare the different types.

Please feel free to pass this along to whomever you feel appropriate!

For more information on our "Go with Green" initiative please follow the link below:

Safe and pleasant travels,

Jocelynn Clemings, Public Information Officer
Ohio Department of Transportation
District 12: Serving Cuyahoga, Lake & Geauga Counties
Ph: 216.584.2006
"Moving Ohio into a Prosperous New World"



Dear Mr. Ferris and Ms. Ferris:
Please see the below e-mail written this morning to Mr. Mestnik.  I think it will address many of the questions you posed in your previous e-mails.  Please feel free to contact me or Transportation Planning and Programs Administrator Dale Schiavoni (who is copied on this e-mail) again if you have any other questions.
Mr. Schiavoni will also be available at today’s meeting regarding the I-71 noise walls.
Safe and pleasant travels,
Jocelynn Clemings, Public Information Officer
Ohio Department of Transportation
District 12: Serving Cuyahoga, Lake & Geauga Counties
Ph: 216.584.2006
"Moving Ohio into a Prosperous New World"




Thanks. I know of no meeting today. Tell me more, with detail, please. This is short notice. The last thing we heard from Councilman Cummins was something about Thursday.

We were promised that the dialogue would be far more extensive than it has been, that ODOT would make an attempt to save money and also do a more “green” implementation, in line with other things we do.

We are nowhere near done talking here. As things stand for us, the proposed ODOT implementation not only costs way more than it needs to cost, and cheapens the surrounding area in the process. This is a perverse dynamic.



I would like to point out that the neighborhood that ODOT is so intent on “Walling off” as if we were some dead zone from a science fiction movie is the home of the Cleveland Metro Park Zoo, one of the foremost ranking Zoo’s in the country and the single most visited recreational destination in the County.  It is also the home of Riverside Cemetery, one of the oldest, historical and most picturesque park like Cemeteries in the city of Cleveland.  It is also the neighborhood that has recently received three of the ReImaging Cleveland grants which is an initiative that has received Federal funds to help the City of Cleveland transform vacant city-owned land bank lots into community assets and create new and sustainable land reuses of those vacant lots.  This program was applauded by Mayor Jackson as a way to “bring a progressive outlook to a sustainable vision in our neighborhoods.”   Cleveland claims to be striving to be more eco-friendly.  We have all heard the new catch phrase “A green city on a blue lake.”  The local politicos and movers and shakers are all giving lip service to being environmentally aware and “thinking green.”   But they are all willing to turn a blind eye and let ODOT do whatever it wants, regardless of what the community wants, just so they can justify spending money and justify their existence.  Why not use that money to fix the broken walls that are already in place?  Oh, that’s right, ODOT claims, there is no money to fix the walls or to maintain them.  Then why do they think we would want MORE walls? 

I’d like to know what the people at ReImaging Cleveland think about this issue.  How about the Neighborhood Progress folks?  Sustainable Cleveland?  And what about all the other groups and organizations out there trying to improve our Cleveland neighborhoods?  What do you think Mayor Jackson?  You’re the one asking us to provide a progressive outlook in our neighborhoods.  How do concrete walls fit into that vision? 



Good one—I’ll post it with today’s collection late this evening



Dear residents and stakeholders,

This message is intended to update and inform people regarding the status of the ODOT Noise Mitigation project:  I-71 from Pearl Road/W. 25th Street to Fulton Avenue.

Summary timeline – ODOT concluded its noise analysis back in April of 2009 and at that time prepared various potential alternative designs for noise mitigation walls based on their noise analysis of the project area.

Project meetings were held by ODOT with the public through September – October of 2009 (north and south sections of the community) and public outreach on the streets immediately affected continued through November as well as in February/March of 2010.

We’ve recently learned that ODOT went to bid with project in March 2010 and Greatlakes Construction received the $2.5 million contract in April. Surveying began in June and as many of you are aware trees began to be marked for removal this past week.

We’ve learned that construction is anticipated to be from July through October 2010 with tree and drilling work first and then wall placement to follow.

In communications with ODOT over the past month my office sought clarification regarding the final plans for walls and requested to have input into those plans before they were implemented.  We had a meeting scheduled with ODOT officials for Thursday of this week, but through our discussions ODOT agreed earlier this morning to meet in the field today.  Johanna Hamm and I spent several hours in the field with ODOT officials this morning reviewing plans and discussing operations.

Plans for a Public Meeting –  We are coordinating with Applewood Centers to secure their auditorium/gym for a public meeting for either Wed/Thurs. June 30th/July 1st at 6:30 pm.  We’ll send out an email as soon as we confirm this as well as work with local area CDCs to help flyer notices.

The Project – We are working with ODOT to ensure that noise barrier walls will only be placed in areas between Pearl and Fulton along I-71 where the majority of homeowners expressed a strong interest in them.  ODOT’s plans were to install walls the full length of the access road on the south side of the freeway and from the Jones Home (W. 25th St.) to W. 39th Street on the north side, leaving the portion that abuts Smith Avenue as is – with no wall installed.

In our discussions today ODOT is willing to considering changing their plans to eliminate the installation of a wall from W. 39th St. to Fulton on the southern side of the freeway.  There are a majority of property owners that would rather not have a wall in this area and to maintain the lush tree growth instead.  Other changes we hope to influence include backing the wall off of the eastern entrance and exit of the access ramps at Pearl Road/W. 25th Street to better protect the viewsheds of that corridor, and additional discussions are occurring with property owners in these areas to help delineate where the walls would begin.  In addition, we walked the project area and reviewed the trees that are marked for removal and the contractor will be working to try to save as many trees as possible given the 10-foot width requirements for installation.

NOTE:  See the enclosed reference map.  The project area only consists of the areas labeled NSA3 and NSA4.  NSA 1, 2 & 5 are not being considered for a wall.  Also, the area to the north beginning at W. 39th and extending to Fulton Road will not see a wall installed and we’re working with ODOT to ensure a wall will not be installed on the south side of the project, also from W. 39th to Fulton.

In terms of a green-structure alternative to the cement walls, ODOT has stated that they will not be considering this as an option.  They have responded that they need more research to ensure this type of wall would meet federal requirements (There is an example that has been given in Canada provided by resident Ken Wohlgemuth) for addressing noise conditions.  And, that without that, this type of solution would not be available at this time.

My perspective on this issue is that it is a tough balancing act to 1) be responsive to the majority of residents that are most negatively impacted by the sound of the freeway – many of them have expressed their frustrations over the last 6-years that it has taken this long to get a project of this kind funded.  And, 2) on the other, with all of the greening activities we’ve seen in the last 5-plus years with groups like Friends of Big Creek and the Brooklyn Centre Naturalist and recent Reimagining Cleveland Projects (BCCA & BCN) projects we’re aware of the desire by many oppose such  noise walls in our neighborhood or loss of any existing trees.

As a compromise we want to work with ODOT as described above in terms of limiting as much as possible the installation of the walls only where they will mitigate noise for a majority of residents who want them, and also see if we can either reallocate/apportion funding out of this project or seek out additional funding for more landscaping and buffering for the entire area covered by the project.  We also want to work to see what can be done for better landscaping and improved fencing at the end points of the project (entrance and exit ramps) where on the western end Metroparks has been helpful in maintaining and improving the areas, and to work with and learn from the Tremont neighborhood’s implementation of a vegetative screening in lieu of noise walls in their neighborhood.

If anyone has any questions please contact me and please feel free to post comments as well on the pages referenced above.




Brian J. Cummins

Councilman, Ward 14

Cleveland City Council

City Hall, Room 220

601 Lakeside Avenue

Cleveland, OH  44114

216-664-4238  office

216-664-3837  fax

Johanna V. Hamm

Executive Assistant, Ward 14

NOTE: This information will also be posted as a link on the at the blog site and the Brooklyn Centre Community Association facebook page


sound wall

Written by Gloria Ferris

June 15th, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Posted in general

today’s thread concerning ODOT District 12 and how they ignore the people who make their employment possible

with 4 comments

What follows is a thread of emails, cut and pasted, from this morning onward to this evening, concerning the Ohio Department of Transportation’s attempt to subvert the public dialogue and in the process spend 5 times more than is necessary, and to achieve a less satisfactory result. Here goes, in a roughly chronological order. I tried doing this in CoverItLive but found it unwieldy and myself out of practice.


***Ken Wohlgemuth:

Hi Frank regarding conversation yesterday sound barrier wall Brooklyn Centre, here is the link to the living walls site.  I have not done any cost comparisons, but I would prefer this type of concept compared to the concentration camp type walls they are considering building.  –Ken Wohlgemuth  

—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Ken Wohlgemuth <>
To: brian cummins <>; Johanna V. Hamm <>
Sent: Fri, July 24, 2009 11:48:49 PM
Subject: Living walls-odot  Have you seen this.  Ken


***Tim Ferris:

Thanks, Ken .

This morning, the first task at hand—

Who will make the calls this morning to ODOT and to the City to find out what is happening and when on I-71, with trees now marked in orange and in red on both sides of the highway between Fulton and Pearl?

We never finished our discussion of how to implement sound barriers, and the living wall needs yet to be vetted.

It feels as though ODOT is shortcutting the process they promised us—survey, study, cost comparisons, natural alternatives, and so forth.


***Gloria Ferris:

We were supposed to discuss such solutions with ODOT for our park neighborhood here in Brooklyn Centre. ODOT seems to be avoiding the issue so they can just do what they always do, and avoid saving public money and saving the environment. This link was provided by our neighbor Ken Wohlgemuth.

The Living Wall is a sound attenuation/privacy screening solution that incorporates ecological principals with engineering practices.

The vegetation used in The Living Wall , willow shrubs native to Canada and the US, has the ability to grow rapidly and thus provides an almost instant landscape.

The construction is carefully planned to ensure the controlled growth of roots and shoots. As the vegetation spreads over its biodegradable wooden framework, it matures into an integrated unit that is able to withstand harsh winters and hot summers; maintaining its aesthetic appeal in all seasons.

The Living Wall naturalizes urban and rural environments while providing superior sound absorption and a substantial privacy structure. It is an organic manufacture that has enormous environmental benefits including: photosynthesis, pollution filtration, and soil stabilization.

The Living Wall is 100% recyclable! It is appropriate for large and small-scale usages such as commercial, parkland, and highway installations, as well as individual residential lots.

The Living Wall Is available in two applications privacy screen fence and sound barrier with soil.

Posted By Gloria Ferris to
Save Our Land at 6/14/2010 09:44:00 AM

***Joe Cimperman:

Director Brown
please advise.
Joe Cimperman

***Tim Ferris

Nothing yet from ODOT—at the link is a blog post regarding the living walls.

***Joe Cimperman:

Ms Hill
Ms Teeuwen
Please help clarify this. As you can see residents are rightfully concerned.

***Robyn Sandys:

Thanks for keeping me in the loop!

Robyn Sandys

Executive Director

Old Brooklyn CDC

***Ken Wohlgemuth:

Tim, I took the liberty to contact, Living Walls Co.  I wanted to make sure they are a viable company not just a web page, they will forward information regarding a project in Vermont and other projects they are  in Canada, my tunnel vision is not alone on this company but through my searches have not seen any other choices.—Ken Wohlgemuth 

***Tim Ferris:

Right—it’s a starting point to restart the discussion.


***Frank Mestnik:

Thanks Tim & Ken.

What’s the location of the wall? I recall Riverside Drive from yesterday, but want to confirm before I start making the calls.

Also, do you have a picture of the X’s on the trees by chance?

Frank Mestnik

Editor – Liberty News


***Tim Ferris:


No, I didn’t have a camera this morning, when I noticed the marked trees on the north side of the freeway. The trees either side of the freeway are marked either in red or orange, and at least between Fulton and Pearl. I noticed the south side this past weekend.

We were not done talking about putting in natural barriers at 1/5th the cost of the concrete-wall installation, and way less ongoing maintenance and replacement cost.

ODOT is premature, and probably dealing in bad faith. They are on site with trucks

***Frank Mestnik:

Good Afternoon,

Per ODOT- They are clear-cutting and installing a concrete sound barrier on I-71 between Fulton Rd. & Pearl. Their interpretation of the public meeting is that residents wanted the sound barrier. A survey was sent out and they are reporting that the results of the survey prompted them to move forward with the project. However, she noted that they did not receive as many survey respondents as they would have liked.

The Living Wall/green barrier idea was rejected because it, “has not been tested or used in Ohio and does not meet ODOT specifications.” This, in my view, does not represent innovative solutions for a green city and a green state.

I have requested a copy of the public meeting minutes and survey results. On my question regarding whether this could be turned into a pilot project, she said it could not, because the plans were already set.

I have a call in to the Living Wall group. I see they have been active in Toronto and other parts of Canada which would certainly be a similar climate. In order for this to turn into an innovative pilot program and stop the clear-cutting, higher level involvement and leadership is required.

Heading out to take photos of what is currently green space and what may be clear-cut in the next day.

Thank you,

Frank Mestnik

Editor – Liberty News


***Tim Ferris:

We were there; the indigenous population were, for the most part, up in arms and did not want the installation of concrete barriers. The “interpretation” is loose and self-serving, at odds with the spirit of the meeting.

Bear in mind that the community has united twice, in 2005 and again in 2009, to tell ODOT that the community finds it offensive to have these walls foisted off on us, a turn-of-the-prior-century park neighborhood of the city of Cleveland. From the point of view of design, most preferred a natural, green, solution consisting of trees, bushes, and berms. From the point of view of cost, most were outraged at the waste involved in the concrete walls, estimated at being 5 times the cost of more sensitive, more sustainable natural solutions.

Our design contingent of the community thinks the concrete walls are tacky and tasteless.

Our historic preservation crowd thinks they will detract not only from panache but also from property values.

ODOT’s version of the meeting verges on fraudulent.

***Johanna Hamm:

Good afternoon,

We will be meeting with Tom Sorge and Mark Carpenter from ODOT on Thursday of this week. From what we have been told so far, the majority of residents on Riverside and Poe, with the exception of Smith ave., wanted the concrete sound barriers, even after we revised the original survey to include a green option. We have asked multiple times to see the returned surveys to verify this and hope they are provided this Thursday. We also have asked to see the final plan to ensure a minimal amount of trees are impacted and that the walls transition smoothly at their ends.


Johanna V. Hamm

Executive Assistant

Ward 14 Councilman Brian J. Cummins

(216) 664-4238

(216) 664-3837 – fax

***Tim Ferris;


Did anybody in any position to do so give any assurance that no cutting will proceed until after the meeting, and until after the results of the survey are verified?

What are the guarantees here?

I also recommending thoroughly auditing any results they have to make sure the questioning wasn’t slanted to give ODOT the answer it wanted to hear. I do know from our experience on this same issue of barrier walls in 2005 and again in 2009 that the neighbors, with very few exceptions, were opposed to the tall concrete walls.

Remember, too, that these walls impact our entire neighborhood on each side of the freeway, not just those few properties that are contiguous to the right-of-way. We should not frame the issue too narrowly. The crumbling walls by the airport, for instance, are an embarrassment to the region, not merely to the property owners whose land is next to them.

When we mentioned this marking of trees to our councilman over the weekend, he did not mention a meeting with anybody from ODOT? Is this a recent arrangement? Who is attending? Again, we don’t want to limit access.

***Joe Cimperman:

Ms Hamm
Thanks for your diligence. When and where is the meeting?
Joe Cimperman
216 215 6765

***Brian Cummins:

We’re in the process of finalizing meeting details between our office and ODOT – it will likely be on-site by the I-71 access ramps.  Note that our office has received the plans and completed resident surveys pertaining to the noise wall issues for the area of I-71 between Fulton and Pearl in Ward 14.  We’ll be reviewing that information with ODOT as well as doing some field work with them to review the plans.

We’ll follow-up with a public meeting to share this information as soon as we complete our review.

If anyone has questions please contact me.



216-333-5453 cell

***Joe Cimperman:

So the time of this meeting is?

***Tim Ferris:

I’m not comfortable with scant representation; we have two or three councilpeople impacted by this proposed work, and they all should be present.

Public meetings recently have been less than satisfactory, with guys from ODOT saying they’re going to do this anyway regardless of what we taxpayers want. There’s some real dysfunctionality in all this that needs to be rooted out.

I’d suggest that at the outset we engage all who are concerned with sustainability issues, with green issues, with initial cost/benefit analysis, and with long-term maintenance costs and how they’ll be covered—we have a lot of government offices we pay to fill this role, as well as nonprofits, and I would like to see them step up and do that for which they are designed—promote the public interest and safeguard the public trust.

***Frank Mestnik:

Good afternoon-

From my viewpoint, this looks like a great opportunity to study and, if viable, cost-comparable or superior and practical, implement an innovative green solution that may very well be superior to the cement barricades. This may turn out to be one of those grass-roots solutions that lead to annual multi-million dollar savings to the taxpayer if this can be implemented and scaled up state wide – or this could be yet another missed opportunity for Ohio and Cleveland to lead the way.

At the very least, it’s worth a feasibility study, possible small scale pilot program and after-action analysis. I would find it highly unlikely residents would prefer a concrete barricade to a tree-wall if the facts revealed the tree-wall was superior or comparable. I have a crew canvassing businesses this week, but can certainly re-direct a few of them to those streets to do an independent door to door survey.

Whichever way this turns out, the residents will have the information and independent analysis published in the paper.

Thank you,

Frank Mestnik

Editor – Liberty News


***Tim Ferris:

Frank, this is certainly a reasonable proposal. We need to analyze cost, delineate benefits, and look at the impact now and later on people who make government possible and necessary, values of all properties that constitute the built environment, and the natural environment.

The Zoo should weigh in, too. They reminded us years ago that they are the outgrowth of the “park neighborhood” called Brooklyn Centre.

A few people have agreed to suggest  to Strickland and to Fisher that this heavy-handed behavior on the part of ODOT may prove a liability to each of them, as the state and the national level, respectively, in this election year.

***Joe Cimperman:

Councilmen Brancatelli and Kelley,
Joe Cimperman

***Ken Wohlgemuth:

Map of area  in question from July 2009 meeting. [this can be sent to you if you ask for it]

***Brian Cummins:

Councilman Cimperman,

Are you aware that the noise barrier walls being discussed in the thread below pertain to the area solely within Ward 14? – the part of I-71 with the access roads bordering 1)  Riverside Avenue to the south and 2) Poe and Smith Avenues to the north.  There are no other Wards being impacted by this specific project.

If you have an interest in this issue, as it pertains to Ward 14 or otherwise and would like to discuss it, I again ask that you please call me directly on my cell phone and I can fill you in on the work done to-date and being planned.

One of the biggest challenges we face is that there have been requests by residents FOR a noise barrier wall for portions of the access roads (primarily the eastern portions), whereas residents on the western potions, and some vocal residents throughout the area are AGAINST walls.  We’re working with ODOT currently to delineate where walls will be installed and how we can ensure resident interests are well represented.

Please call me to discuss, as from your emails today it appears you are very interested in the issue.  If there are any constituents from Ward 14 or otherwise that have/are contacting you, that would like more information, please direct them to me via my cell.  Regardless of where any new walls go within this segment of I-71 in Ward 14, I’m confident that there will be an interest from residents and local groups to ensure significant additional green buffering and in that case our two wards and the communities involved could benefit from each other’s work.


216-333-5453 cell

***Joe Cimperman:

Councilman Cummins.
As you know this area also impacts Ward 3, and I bet residents from wards 13 and 12 are interested as well.
At any rate, it was great working collaboratively with you on the Scranton Library and look forward to this meeting as Mr Ferris and others have included us on the email.
Joe Cimperman

Written by Gloria Ferris

June 14th, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Posted in general

Cleveland: Vacant lots get new life

without comments

Our part of this was filmed this afternoon by WKYC’s senior political correspondent Tom Beres. People appearing from our neighborhood are myself, Dave Boyce, my husband Tim, Brandy Hardy, Joe Mestnik, and our stone walls on West 39th, just north of The Ugly Broad.

The City of Cleveland has fewer people and more vacant lots as residents move out and empty buildings are demolished.


Written by Gloria Ferris

June 4th, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Posted in general