Hunter Morrison, Director of Youngstown State University's Center for Urban and Regional Studies, served as Cleveland City Planning Director throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In this 2006 interview, Morrison describes his work as a city planner in Cleveland and offers his view on Cleveland's needs for the future. After detailing his early work as a planner in Kenya, Morrison discusses the development of the Euclid Avenue Corridor plan. Much of Morrison's work in Cleveland focused on updating the 1949 General Plan for the city, aligning the physical layout with new economic and social realities. He describes how this led to the Civic Vision 2000 plan in the early 1990s. Morrison also gives his opinion on public transportation, Public Square, the convention center, and the lakefront, before ending by emphasizing the importance of improving public education and attracting newcomers in revitalizing Cleveland.
Morrison, Hunter (interviewee)
Storey, Sandra (interviewer)
American Institute of Architects
"Hunter Morrison interview, 21 July 2006" (2006). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 951004.
Transcription sponsored by Leonard & Betty Boesger
Sandra Storey [00:00:00] First, I'd like to thank you for coming today.
Hunter Morrison [00:00:02] My pleasure.
Sandra Storey [00:00:03] Please tell us your name and your current position.
Hunter Morrison [00:00:05] Hunter Morrison, and I'm the director of the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at Youngstown State University.
Sandra Storey [00:00:11] One of the things is, just logistically, I'm going to be speaking to you but I may be taking notes or looking down.
Hunter Morrison [00:00:18] That's fine.
Sandra Storey [00:00:18] I'm going to try not to talk too much because that's my teacher problem. I tend to talk, but I need to let you talk.
Hunter Morrison [00:00:25] Okay.
Sandra Storey [00:00:27] Tell us a little bit about the neighborhood that you grew up in.
Hunter Morrison [00:00:31] Well, I grew up in, initially, in Shaker Heights in the Winslow neighborhood until I was about, oh, five or six, I think, and then we moved out to Pepper Pike at the development on the corner of Lander and Shaker at the point in time when Pepper Pike was truly viewed by most people as the country, way out there. Today it's about halfway out to way out there, but it was a pretty isolated place. It was before most of the development that occurred in the '60s took place.
Emma Yanoshik-Wing [00:01:00] I'm going to interrupt for just two seconds.
Hunter Morrison [00:01:03] Mm-hmm.
Sandra Storey [00:01:14] Okay.
Hunter Morrison [00:01:14] Okay.
Sandra Storey [00:01:15] Hopefully that will be better
Hunter Morrison [00:01:17] We assume.
Sandra Storey [00:01:18] What path did you follow to get from that neighborhood to where you are today?
Hunter Morrison [00:01:22] Oh, I went off to college at Yale in New Haven, studied city planning and political science. Right out of, after graduation in 1970, I had an opportunity to serve in the Peace Corps in Nairobi, Kenya, as a town planning officer in the city government of Nairobi and worked in the squatter settlements there for several years and came back to graduate school at Harvard and MIT in urban settlement design in developing countries, figuring that I was going to do international work for the rest of my career. Worked for an engineering firm in Boston for about a year and then worked for several years in Nigeria for another planning and engineering firm doing master plans in the east-central state of Nigeria, which is now Imo and Anambra state in the core of what was once Biafra. So we were dealing with rebuilding effort about six or seven years after the Biafran Civil War, and about a year and a half or two years into that effort, with the instability in Nigeria, we suspended the contract. I came back to Boston, and it turned out my father needed some help with the family business in Cleveland, and I said, Well, I'll just come back for a little while I'm cooling my heels in Boston, and that turned into a thirty-year experience because I got back here and people said, Oh, you're a city planner. We need a lot of city planning here. This was 1975 or '76, and I really began to realize that the skills I developed in urban planning and urban settlement design in developing countries also could apply to a community such as Cleveland, which was going through some major and very painful transformations. Worked with Hough Area Development Corporation for several years and became planning director in 1980 and did that for twnenty years.
Sandra Storey [00:03:16] Wow. I could ask a whole interview set of questions on the African experience, but since this is Cleveland, we're going to steer away from there. You mentioned that you could use the skills that you developed in Nairobi and some of those other countries to develop in Cleveland?
Hunter Morrison [00:03:37] Well, a couple of things. First of all, Africa is a very tribal place and, well, people don't... It's politically incorrect to acknowledge the tribal background. The fact of the matter is the politics of Nairobi, the politics of the east-central state in Nigeria is very tribal and different groups have different positions in power and different aspirations. Well, when I came back to Cleveland and looked at the thirty-three members of Cleveland City Council and began to understand it, I began to understand it as very much a tribal political situation that each ethnic group had. At that point, it had one or two representatives. And if you understood where the communities were and where the representatives came from and how they worked with each other, worked against each other, you'd begin to understand the politics. And that's a skill that really developed in our in Nairobi, understanding the difference between the Luo and the Kikuyu and the Kikamba and the other tribes and who was jostling for power and who was playing which role in the government and in the civil life of the community, but also on a technical basis, the... Particularly in Nairobi, I was working very, very much in the British town planning system, which is a much more articulated governmental structure than typically found in American cities, and it's a structure that puts planning in, professionally, after architecture, after design. In other words, to be a city planner, you really need to know how to design buildings. And it has a very strong emphasis on physical design and the placement of buildings and the placement of spaces and the efficiency of layouts, and how do you how do you actually lay a community out. We spent a lot of time working on different types of low- and moderate-income housing schemes with very limited budgets where the length the sewer runs was an important consideration. So I developed a lot more appreciation for physical planning, land planning there than I would have even being exposed at graduate school, where the emphasis was more on social planning, and coming into Cleveland sort of following Norm Krumholtz, who was very much a social policy planner and not at all a physical planner, the mental discipline that I learned in Nairobi, working with people like Kevin Francis, Craig McFeely, who had been at the town planning officer for Nairobi for 15 or 20 years, gave me a mental, a conceptual framework to understand what needed to happen in Cleveland, how long it took, and what what were the steps. So that's sort of an interesting reverse technology transfer. Usually, we're supposed to transfer technology to less-developed countries. In this case, actually, my own experience was that there were lessons to be learned there that helped interpret what was going on here. And certainly I would not, having grown up in Cleveland, would not have understood both the political, tribal political nature of the place and the nature of the physical design challenges had I not gone away, far away, to a different place.
Sandra Storey [00:06:57] You talked about the differences between social and political, I believe you said, planning to...
Hunter Morrison [00:07:03] Social and physical planning.
Sandra Storey [00:07:04] To, right, the differences between them. Help me understand.
Hunter Morrison [00:07:08] Well, the.. It's a question of emphasis. I mean, I think if you're in the planning department in the city of Cleveland or most planning departments, if you're planning director, you're dealing with people and you're dealing with places. You're dealing with both the social environment, the question of who gets and who pays, which is Norm's famous line. Who benefits from different decisions? Who pays for those decisions? What is the impact on the lives and the livelihoods and the futures of the people that you represent, that you work for? And he did a masterful job of reframing the discussion and dialogue in the city of Cleveland during his tenure on the citizens of the city of Cleveland and making sure that their interests, particularly the interests of those who had the fewest resources, were considered at the top of the pile, not at the bottom of the pile. And that followed on about twenty years of planning, where urban renewal was Negro removal and freeways came through old neighborhoods like Tremont, destroyed them, destroyed the social life, destroyed the physical life, and basically move people around like refugees in Eastern Europe after the war. The physical planning side is also part of the agenda that the planning department has. The planning department is responsible for zoning. It's responsible for land use planning. Norm's emphasis on social and equity planning, to some degree, came at the expense of any attention to the physical realm. So by the time I got there, we hadn't done an update of the master plan downtown for about twenty years and hadn't done an update of the city's plan in thirty years. And so when it came to trying to figure out where to put things, where to put the Sohio building, how to redevelop neighborhoods, which neighborhoods to redevelop, what to do about our lakefront, what to do about Playhouse Square, we had not a clue because we had not spent any time looking at how the physical pieces fit together, how the places get made, how the decisions around architecture and civil engineering all coalesce to create place. Some of the basic issues you confront with the Euclid Corridor project, which is how is it going to work through the neighborhoods? Well, how is it also going to look? How's it going to feel? How many street trees, what is the caliber of the street trees? All important issues, which quite frankly, took back burner during Norm's tenure when this, when the issues in the city really were about how to recalibrate our very aggressive and very insensitive urban renewal programs that he inherited. It was a sort of yin and yang or dialectic to all this stuff, and I think he did physical planning, but that wasn't his emphasis. I did social and equity planning that, by and large, was not my emphasis.
Sandra Storey [00:09:59] You touched on the Euclid Corridor project, so let's press there for a few minutes. Where was Euclid Avenue planning when you were city director?
Hunter Morrison [00:10:10] Well, it started out when I first got there, there had been a number of initiatives to try to do something about Euclid Avenue, going back, quite frankly, I mean, you can trace it all back way back to the 1920s, when Euclid Avenue was the premier commercial street in the city and was getting badly congested, and you can trace it back to the 1950s with efforts to put a subway which would have provided better distribution of people between Playhouse Square and Public Square. You can trace it back to the Halprin Plan of 1975. Larry Halprin, Lawrence Halprin, was an urban designer and landscape architect brought in from San Francisco to run a major downtown planning effort funded by the Growth Association. And the major emphasis of that was the the so-called dumbbell, the Playhouse Square to Public Square link that Larry had suggested be the key emphasis with a trolley connecting these two historically disparate or distant anchors for downtown, the Public Square–Higbee anchor and the Playhouse Square–Halle's anchor. Also in that same time period of the late '60s to the mid '70s, Bob Little, a leading architect at the time who just passed in his 90s, did an analysis of the area between downtown and University Circle, which he called the Link. And I found some of those drawings up in the attic of City Hall. In the late '70s, the NOACA had begun a systemwide or regionwide analysis of rail extensions. This followed on the improvement of the Shaker line, which was completed in 1980. In the early '80s, they had looked at every extension of the existing rail lines, the Blue, the so-called Shaker Blue and Green Lines, and the Red Line, out to Lorain and out to the southeast side, out to the northeast side, down to the south side, wherever they thought they could get a right of way. Each one of those extensions was paired with a segment between downtown and University Circle called the Dual Hub—the two hubs, the Link, same basic language—and the conclusion of the technical work, which people like Howard Mayer perhaps can speak to you about, was that any extension was benefited by improvement to the connection between downtown and University Circle, which currently exists in the Red Line but is, but has very limited traffic. There's more bus traffic on the Euclid Avenue bus line than there is between University Circle and Downtown on the Red Line because it was built in the '50s through old industrial districts that essentially collapsed. And with the exception of University Circle station and the downtown station, the stations in between have almost no ridership. You move the line, you know, the core, of where population and employment and ridership still exists, you get a better, better ridership. So NOACA was looking at that and in the early '80s, maybe '81, '82, I can't remember exactly when now, a decision needed to be made to decide which alignment to pick and Mayor Voinovich was lobbied heavily to pick the Dual Hub corridor. His recommendation to the NOACA board was to combine the Dual Hub corridor and the southeast extension, which is what he thought really made a great deal of sense because the traffic and congestion in the southeast side of Cleveland was pretty significant. So that really started the whole process of looking at the Dual Hub, which then became the Euclid Corridor project. Eventually, the southeast line was broken off from the Dual Hub, and the Dual Hub itself was studied independently as a sort of a core component to any further extensions. And there's a long story about how the Dual Hub didn't happen because of the costs and the cost-benefit analysis and all the other technical aspects. But initially, it was viewed as a way of providing for something that the RTA planners had long contended, and that is that the system that we currently have doesn't work as well as it could because there's no downtown distribution, that the Cleveland rail system is the only one in the country with one downtown stop. And because you have one downtown stop, you don't... You then force everybody to get on, unless they're working right in Public Square, you force everybody to get on some other conveyance, usually a bus, or walk. And so you lose ridership because people don't necessarily want to do that.
Sandra Storey [00:15:38] Clarify for me, what is NOACA?
Hunter Morrison [00:15:41] NOACA is the regional transportation planning organization for five counties: Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Geauga, and Medina counties. It's the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, and it is the body that takes a look at big projects like Euclid Corridor, Dual Hub, Innerbelt. They're working through all the technical work on the Innerbelt. They convene the various actors, and ultimately the governing board has to approve the efficacy of a project of that scale.
Sandra Storey [00:16:20] Okay, that makes sense. We're going to stay on Euclid Avenue for a few more moments. So what is your... What was your role in the development of the Euclid Corridor project now?
Hunter Morrison [00:16:34] Well, now I have no role. Then, we... Following the NOACA decision to conclude systems analysis with this construct of the Dual Hub corridor and the southeast extension, there were extensive discussions between the city, NOACA, and RTA over who would manage the next project, which would be an alternatives analysis for one piece of that where you look at a segment, and it turned out to be the Dual Hub segment from downtown to University Circle, and then look at all the different options to meet the needs, from subways to at-grade rail to buses to doing nothing, the so-called null alternative. That alternatives analysis wound up being the responsibility of the city. Ultimately, this is the project design for the actual project was going to be and is in fact now the province of RTA. So basically, we're moving from a regionwide systems analysis done by NOACA to an alternatives analysis for a project entirely within the city of Cleveland that the City Planning Department was responsible form to project implementation of this selected project, the design of the actual project, the construction of the actual project by RTA. So our role was right in that middle rung of the ladder and we were... We engaged a project manager, provided staff, and took responsibility for producing the alternatives analysis work for the, then known as the Dual Hub corridor, which subsequently became known as the Euclid Avenue [Euclid Corridor] Transportation Project.
Sandra Storey [00:18:28] Okay. How does Euclid Avenue get to be the grand street again?
Hunter Morrison [00:18:38] Well, that's a big question. It is the... It's a street that actually goes back to the Native American trail that connected Detroit and Buffalo. And interestingly enough, it wasn't on the original, original plan that Moses Cleaveland did. The original, original plan showed Superior and Saint Clair and Huron and those, Superior and Saint Clair and Ontario and Erie, basically a gridded pattern around Public Square. And a couple of years later, there emerged this street called Euclid Avenue. Well, it turned out that that was the Native American trail that was actually the trail that everybody was using. It was the commercial trail and, excuse me, we need to add that in. So it has always wanted to be there. I'm told that it ran along the shore of the ancient lake and it is really at the top of the bluff and everything sort of begins to move down from there. But you can see it, you know, how it ties back. And I think it also then tied back around to Center Ridge Road and out to the Detroit, certainly went back towards Buffalo. So it's wanted to be there for a long time, and ultimately it became, as you know, the Millionaires' Row street and then the most valuable commercial property in the city and the region for many years. And when it collapsed, it collapsed big. And it collapsed starting in about the 1950s for any number of reasons. But it has had a long way to claw back from being a very high-end address to being an address that time passed by. I've worked that avenue for, well, since about 1975 to try to find a new real estate future for it. And it is not easy. It is... There's an emerging consensus that's taken a long time to emerge around technology, around biomedical, around anchoring the corridor based on the institutions that have clustered along it, and probably the strongest future real estate proposition is one that builds off of the cluster of educational institutions and healthcare institutions that have grown up along it from CSU to Myers College, which is a new addition, to the Cleveland Clinic, which is increasingly like a university with its research components, to Case Western Reserve, and that there is probably some play to be had around this being a knowledge corridor. It's a difficult redevelopment corridor because it is bounded, so it's a major arterial bounded only a block away to the north and south by major commuter routes on Carnegie and Chester, and when Euclid Avenue was at its peak, it handled all the traffic that is now on Euclid, Chester, and Carnegie, and those streets were cut in later to relieve the traffic on Euclid. But as a result, Euclid is sort of a backwater for commuting, and the blocks are fairly thin, and the block structure is very intense. So you begin to try to figure out how do you redevelop this? And it's not easy. But there's some reason to be optimistic that the investment that's being put in place will kick off more imaginative work than has been done to date. And I say that based on what we saw with the relatively modest investments done on Prospect as a result of Gateway, where we upgraded the streetscape, the street trees, the curbs, all that sort of stuff, and added fencing and landscaping from East 55th Street down to Public Square and got rid of the prostitutes and get rid of the brothels and got rid of the drug activity. And, you know, ten years later, people are investing in it because they'll say, Well, I guess the city's here again. And Euclid Avenue has been a very beat-up street with sidewalk vaults that have prevented decent streetscape in downtown, with a crazy, wide and narrow street pattern east of 55th Street, with an odd mixture of used car lots and churches and some apartment buildings and major medical complexes. I mean, it doesn't read anymore as a place, as you drive along it. And my hope is that the Euclid Corridor project, by making a significant, consistent investment all the way out, will change people's perception and then get property owners to say, Well, I guess the smart money is finally here, but doing it incremental and I've done that since 1977, when I started working with... '78 when I started working with Hough Development. So that'what, thirty, almost thirty years. Doing it incremental doesn't work. You've gotta change the idea and change the place. You're seeing Euclid Corridor changing the place. We've had some discussion, enough discussions, I think, with property owners along the corridor over the years to think that the emerging idea of a tech corridor, of a smart street, of a knowledge corridor seems to be resonating and seems to be something that could motivate people to look at Euclid Avenue as a place to operate their business or to live and work.
Sandra Storey [00:24:26] Interesting. One more question on Euclid Avenue. Do you have a favorite building on Euclid Avenue and what would it be?
Hunter Morrison [00:24:32] The Arcade.
Sandra Storey [00:24:33] Okay, talk to me about that.
Hunter Morrison [00:24:35] Well, the Arcade is is the city's one National Historic Landmark building. It's the best building in Cleveland.
Sandra Storey [00:24:43] Why?
Hunter Morrison [00:24:44] Because it is of international quality. It is a representative of the event, of a special, specific building type of the late 19th century. There are comparable arcades in Milan and other European cities. This is one of the few in this country. It is a magnificently proportioned, elegantly designed, lovingly restored building, which there aren't... They don't make any of those anymore, and they don't make any of those... Actually, there are none like it in the country. I mean, there are other wonderful buildings, but you can find their parallels, you can find comparables to the Huntington Bank building in Chicago. In fact, there's some... I have some sense of one knocked... One was a knockoff of the other. You can find wonderful theaters in other places. Our theaters are phenomenal, but there are other equally phenomenal theaters and some that are even more adventuresome than ours. But you cannot find another building in this country like the grand Arcade.
Sandra Storey [00:25:50] Interesting. You mentioned the theaters. Playhouse Square renovation, was that... What part did you play in that?
Hunter Morrison [00:25:59] That was one of our major catalytic development projects, along with the lakefront and Gateway and Public Square, and our office was deeply involved in doing the planning, doing the urban renewal plan, working through the financing of a number of the theater renovations, particularly the Sate and the Palace Theater, working desperately to save the allen Theater, ultimately signing the demolition permits only to have it pulled because the symphony needed a place to play while they... while their building was being renovated for a couple of years, which then occasioned the Allen Theater to be saved and renovated. So we've been very intimately involved. That was the Planning Department and I was personally very, very engaged in those projects.
Sandra Storey [00:26:51] Okay. Let's see. Thinking that you're speaking to my high school students right now, how would you describe your job as a city planner? What's involved in that?
Hunter Morrison [00:27:06] Well, there's a... There's an old saying in the business, a planner is what a planner does. So it's a very, very diverse business and there are a lot of ways into it, a lot of different types of jobs within the profession. Basically, it's a... It's either a job done by a municipal corporation or county or an organization of a regional nature like NOACA, or it can be done as a consultant with a consulting firm that practices planning and land planning in particular. And there are a number of those firms. Depending on what you are interested in, you may wind up being engaged in the planning of transportation systems, understanding the computer models that are used to project transportation demand, understanding the physical planning that goes into transportation planning that works closely with civil engineers on the design of roadways and the design of alignments of roadways. You could go into planning along the lines of environmental planning, where you could do environmental assessments work, again with people like hydrologists and biologists and historic preservationists to understand the impacts of a project too on the natural environment, to help plan to to do it better. You could be involved in neighborhood planning, working with neighborhood organizations. That's much more sort of hands-on and personal and trying to get the neighborhoods to see a better future and put the pieces in place to do that. A lot of community meetings, a lot of process, a lot of trying to interpret what people are saying and make some sense out of it. You could also be involved in planning in the urban design area where you're helping a city or community or development group or development corporation to envision what their community should look like. That's three-dimensional. That's often computer simulation. You're doing maps, you're doing drawings, you're doing renderings to show people what could happen on the street corner, what could happen on that site. You can also get involved in the administrative side of planning, particularly around the area of zoning and design review where you're administering codes. And some people find that to be very interesting because it's really, the codes that a city puts in place really are the cookbook. If you understand the code, you understand what can happen. And there are some planners that really get very interested and very engaged in the management of the code review process where you look at a project, you know, with regard to its relationship to the code, what's permissible, what's not, how can you make something happen that's good, how can you modify things, how can you engage with a neighborhood or a board of zoning appeals, say, a set of property owners, and come up with something that is an enhancement to the community.
Sandra Storey [00:30:10] You talked a lot about Hough and developing Hough? Could you explain a little bit about your involvement in that area?
Hunter Morrison [00:30:17] Well, the Hough area is an interesting area. It was initially the village of East Cleveland. It was incorporated into the city, I think, in the 1870s, but it was for many years a very high-end neighborhood. It was the first upper-middle-income neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland that followed really the development of the big houses on Euclid Avenue, so one block off. I have a personal connection there since my grandfather moved there from Cincinnati in about 1900, 1905, somewhere in that area. And my father and his twin brother and my aunt were all born there in the Hough neighborhood. So when I was growing up as a kid, I would hear all the stories because the family migrated with many other people from Hough into the Shaker Heights in the Van Sweringen development of Shaker Heights and Beachwood in the 1920s and the early '30s. My grandfather left about 1932, which was sort of a late time to go since the Depression was in gear at that point in time. Well, he and some other people moved, moved out, sort of the last to go from that generation. But growing up, I always heard about the old neighborhood. So from my personal perspective, it was always the old neighborhood. When I came back to Cleveland after working with my father for a couple of years to help him sort his business out, I wound up getting involved in local politics and through that learned of a position with the Hough Development Corporation, or Hough Area Development Corporation, to do housing redevelopment and new construction renovation in the Hough neighborhood. It was some fairly substantial federal funding for the time, and so I wound up running an operation called Homes for Hough, which built the first new housing in Hough for sale and the first new housing, and basically the only new housing for sale that wasn't subsidized and income tagged, during the Kucinich administration. So, and that actually got the attention of George Voinovich, and it's one of the reasons I think he considered me for Planning Director because the work I'd done in Hough. But I've always had a strong sentiment for the place. Over the years I've worked closely with councilwoman Fannie Lewis, who was a great champion of the neighborhood. Her world begins and ends at the edge of Hough. There aren't any better councilmen than Fannie in terms of advocating for the community and advocating for a future that includes the people who live there now and just doesn't push people out and is open to some interesting and important projects like League Park. So I continue to have a sentimental engagement to the place, even though I don't work there and I don't work for the city anymore.
Sandra Storey [00:33:15] Did you visit the neighborhood as a child, the Hough neighborhood as a child?
Hunter Morrison [00:33:19] Actually not. It was a pretty dense and people considered for most white folks was considered a pretty unsafe neighborhood. I did do... I did work in high school with the Council of Human Relations and spent time in the Fairfax neighborhood, which is the other side of Euclid, but really didn't venture into Hough until I stayed, until I came back and started exploring the city and tried to make sense of these old memories.
Sandra Storey [00:33:57] I read something that you were involved with the Civic Vision 2000. Could you explain what that is?
Hunter Morrison [00:34:02] Well, Civic Vision 2000 was the community initiative to update the city's 1949 general plan, the 1959 downtown plan, and put the city in a forward movement towards the future at the end of the 1980s and through the 1990s. It was about... It was about a five-year effort, raised about a million and a half dollars from the local foundation and corporate community, which we matched at the city with a comparable amount of staffing, largely done in the Voinovich administration, though the citywide plan did get adopted at the beginning of the White administration. Had two planning components and several other aspects, but the two planning components were a downtown plan which really focused on the area from the Flats to the Innerbelt to the lakefront, the core of downtown, and came forward with specific recommendations for downtown development and wove together the Warehouse District and Playhouse Square and Tower City and the lakefront, all these different projects, into something that was coherent and could be talked about. The citywide plan was a more traditional land-use plan that again updated a 1949 plan, so forty-five years later or so, you are, you know, updating something that tells you where the future is. The 1949 plan... [cell phone rings] Sorry. [long pause] The 1949 plan had been developed for a city of a million people that was a heavy industrial city with very dense ethnic neighborhoods, with, still with a dense fabric of public transportation and trolley cars, with no freeways, no suburbs, no shopping centers. It was a city where a million or a million and a half, of about the million and a half people who lived in Cuyahoga County, two-thirds of them lived in the city. And so it was it was a brilliant plan for its day, but it, you know, by 1985, forty years later, with a city at that point about seven, or 600,000 people probably, major washings out of neighborhoods, urban renewal projects, freeway projects, projects that had slashed through neighborhoods such as Tremont and Central, controversies about busing that had led to emptying out of whole communities in the flight to the suburbs, the development of two or three rings of shopping centers which began the process eroding downtown as your principal shopping district for the region. None of that had been put into place in 1949. But all of those were or factors some forty years later. And the goal of that of the citywide plan was really to try to take all of that into account, adjust to being a smaller city. Find the opportunities that still remained. Because, you know, at that point we were a city of a little over half a million. That's a half a million people that need to eat and drink and go shopping and go to a drugstore. And at that point in time, the shopping center industry, the grocery store industry, the drugstore industry, that all walked away from the city. The banking industry had walked away from the city. And so part of our goal was to put in place a plan that you said, no, there's there's not just a social obligation to invest here, there's money to be made here. There's opportunity here, which the market has finally understood. So those were the the key components. The other components had to do with updating the zoning code, which is, which dated from 1929 and dealt with coal gasification and rag picking and chicken coops very well, but didn't handle satellite dishes and condominiums, townhouses. I mean, we dealt with motor courts and homes for the feebleminded. Okay? I mean, is a group home a home for the feebleminded? Well, that's not, I mean, in addition to the political correctness of the language, just the whole construct of how we treat different types of people, what sort of land uses there are, had fundamentally changed. And we were trying to make the existing code work. Is a trailer court a motel? A motel? What is all this stuff? And it was very clear, and the signage ordinances were woefully out of date, so it was very clear we needed to update all of that. And we convinced council to do that, and they made a substantial headway in updating the code over the subsequent years. And also, we dealt with the city's capital budget, which puts in place the money plan for the future.
Sandra Storey [00:39:38] You touched on the highways and mass transportation. What are some of the challenges in the city of Cleveland with those areas?
Hunter Morrison [00:39:50] Well, this part of the world, the highway network is really very robust. The levels of congestion are, by and large, quite manageable. This is not Atlanta; this is not Denver. Even where we have congestion, mainly on the far south and far west, or far east and far west sides around the developments that have occurred on the freeway beltways, so to speak, are quite a bit more manageable than in some of these communities that have grown very rapidly and have not kept pace and don't have a lot of alternatives in terms of public transportation or gridded streets. So a lot of congestion winds up on the freeways and on these major arterials. The challenge we face now is to, now that the large portions of the system are fifty years old, is replacement and realignment, and that's what the work on the Innerbelt is all about, is undoing some of the mistakes like Dead Man's Curve, making the roadway more efficient, but also opening up some development opportunities along it on sites that may have been sort of aggressively developed for freeway ramps that don't need to be there. So doing then the necessary upgrading while making some more contemporary statements about the nature of the communities is, that's a challenge that the community is facing right now, deprogramming or de-emphasizing roadways that were widened to meet the needs of 1940 and 1950. We saw that on the Detroit-Superior Bridge, where a whole lane could be taken out of that bridge. Now, at one point in time, that was, that was Detroit Road. It went to Detroit, and before the Shoreway went in, certainly before [I-]90 went in, it carried an awful lot of traffic, and we've got photographs of the Detroit Superior Bridge in the '30s, it was jammed with cars. Well, the Detoir-Superior Bridge is never jammed with cars today because there are alternatives, and so you can take lines out. That's what's being talked about also with the with the Shore.. West Shoreway, which was upgraded in engineering terms. It was a parkway at one point, and for many years was a wonderful parkway connecting Edgewater Park and the neighborhoods around it. But over the years, the county, particularly under county engineer Al Porter, widened the roadway to freeway dimensions with the intention of connecting it to a north-south freeway that would go towards Parma, and the, you know, there are all sorts of drawings that show how that roadway was going to connect with something that ran due south at what's now Zone Recreation, to provide access directly from the lakefront. These are the roads. Well, that didn't get done. You're carrying as much traffic on the West Shoreway as you are on Chester, and yet it looks and acts and smells like a freeway. It doesn't need to. And it cuts off Detroit Shoreway and Edgewater neighborhoods from the lakefront, and it doesn't need to, and Ohio City. So there are sort of three neighborhoods that are affected by the design of this existing unit here. So a challenge of sort of de-emphasizing some of these roads, getting back the land use, getting back the views, getting back the opportunities that once existed. With regard to public transit, the biggest challenge is the fact that the region has continued to disperse its population and its jobs, and it's increasingly difficult to service those people who live in low-density neighborhoods and to service those businesses that are out on the beltway and out in the rural, in some of the semi-rural areas, Twinsburg and Solon and places like that, with transit. It just doesn't work very well. So that's not a problem that's easily fixed, but it is a challenge.
Sandra Storey [00:43:57] Let's talk about the bridges of Cleveland. They're unique in many ways, and as we talk about renovating 90, looking at some choices.
Hunter Morrison [00:44:13] Well, Cleveland is a city that has a long and storied history with bridges. It's going back to the engagement between the city of Cleveland and the city of Ohio City spanning the Cuyahoga River, which at one point for a few years with the western boundary of the United States, as you know. So linking across the river first with low-level bridges in the Flats area and then with high-level bridges in the late 19th century and railroad bridges, all of the bridges for providing access to a very robust and an extensive network of rail companies, and then more recently, the freeway bridge bridges. One of the things that is characteristic about Cleveland's bridges is a very strong emphasis on civil engineering. These are not gussied up structures. They're very honest structures. You can see the design of it; you can see the engineering. And the best ones like the Detroit-Superior and the Lorain-Carnegie Bridges combine an elegance of design with an elegance of engineering to make them memorable structures. And so one of the challenges we have, and we've seen this in the past, we're seeing the debate right now on the second Innerbelt, or the second interstate bridge, is what sort of design do we pick and how do we take the existing fifty-year old bridge and make it more attractive as a piece of sculpture, as a piece of civic design, as opposed to just a piece of functional engineering? So it's a combination of the need to do to maintain and in some limited ways expand our bridge network and the very real need to make sure that we're taking each one of those bridges as a unique piece of civic architecture, respecting them, preserving them, respecting them, lighting them, painting them, doing them in such a way that really calls positive attention to them.
Sandra Storey [00:46:29] Okay, I'm going to be asking you about some of the areas of Cleveland and your thoughts about different things. What do you think about Public Square? Do you think something needs to be done with that?
Hunter Morrison [00:46:44] Well, I mean, there's a lot of talk right now about closing Public Square, and this is one of those situations where unfortunately I may sound like an old man. Been there, done that, doesn't work. And you can try. I'm not sure that it, that even if you invested a substantial amount more money than was invested in the '70s and '80s, you would accomplish all that much absent animation around the Square. The biggest problem with Public Square is nobody lives on it. And increasingly, fewer people work on it, and nobody shops on it. At one point in time, it was a... It was the major shopping district. At one point in time the Warehouse District was the region's shopping district alone and then that moved Public Square and then that moved to Playhouse Square. But we have succeeded as a city in tearing down all the things that generate the livelihood that would make the Square an interesting place. There are three blocks or four blocks of surface parking lots, one of which was supposed to be a tower, an office building for AmeriTrust with the Hyatt hotel. I signed the demo permits on that, fully expecting to sign the construction permits, and the project fell apart. AmeriTrust became part of what's now KeyCorp. Hyatt didn't happen. Major developments didn't happen in the early '90s for reasons having to do with interest rates and credit limits and things of that nature, so that parking... That site is a parking lot. Higbee's has been out of business for five or six years, as Higbee's Dillard's. The BP building, for all the good it did, is an inward-looking building that replaced a number of bookstores and cafes and other things that occupied that space. The... I mean, the Post Office building has been in place since the turn of the first of the 20th century, but it does not face the Square, it faces Superior, so it has a blank face on that element. KeyCorp has always been a bank on that location, but it doesn't create additional life. The church doesn't create additional life, except on Sundays. And then you've got a couple of buildings, one of which was the original CEI building, and the other is the old CEI building, both of which are office buildings with very limited street frontage, and then you come around and you've got a hotel which is faced not on the Square but faced on Superior. So if you look at it and say, duh, dad, this doesn't work. Well, duh. There's nobody... There's no front doors on the thing. There are no front doors. So you can change the traffic patterns. You can turn it into something wonderful, but you've got to have people around it, living and working, to make it work. And the plazas that... Compare this with the Boston Public Garden. The hotels open onto that. The townhouses open onto the garden. Newbury Street connects to the garden. There are things happening all around it that cause people to cross through it. There are technical issues that were confronted when we went through a very extensive effort, starting in the Perk administration and ending up in the Voinovich administration, that resulted in the Public Square we see today. And that involved narrowing roadways and expanding sidewalks and making the making the traffic work. It is still a major traffic crossroads, probably will be for a long time. There is still major sewer work underneath, particularly underneath Ontario, that prevented the Halprin plan, which called for consolidating the Square. It didn't pan out financially because of the major, the major subways and the distance you have to go back to get your grades to actually go under. We looked at that also with regard to to some of the rail lines and whether you could go under, and it's expensive and the portals go back a fair distance. And the portals that basically block you, block the, some of the other users. Not impossible to do. Very expensive. Questionable, in my view, given the amount of public money that's been put in place to date and given the absolutely piss poor response of the private sector to creating value around it. I would say before you go and put any more public money into it, I'd like to see a couple of these buildings that people have talked about for a good many years have something in them that would cause you to want something to happen. I would suggest you build up those, that edge of the Warehouse District with people and then let those people engage with the city planners some years out to decide what to do with it, I'd suggest putting somebody in the Dillard's building. Right now, it's empty. The May Company is empty. Why would you put more money into apublic space when the private spaces are sub-performing? That's the challenge. And there's ample, ample evidence that changing the configuration of the Square is a very expensive and challenging proposition. And that was when May Company was fully animated. Higbee's was the premier department store in Greater Cleveland. The head of Higbee's, Herb Strawbridge, headed the effort that Halprin put in place, and he personally told me we didn't do the underground because we couldn't make the numbers work. He headed the Growth Association at the time and his businesses on the Square. And they had major access to state and federal elected officials who could help out here and in fact, the money for Public Square, the work you see, largely came from the state of Ohio. If there was a point in time when there was an opportunity and a rationale and some key support of beneficiaries it was then. Higbee's became Dillard's, and Dillard's is dead, the building is empty, there's nobody speaking for that constituency, and there is no constituency at that point in time. Why would you come back and do it again?
Sandra Storey [00:53:05] What about... What are your thoughts about the new convention center or a new convention center?
Hunter Morrison [00:53:11] Well, again, that's a very long story. I've studied it and our department studied it for a good many years. I concluded that the best location was the site of the existing convention center in terms of meeting the space requirements of a traditional big-box convention hall. That particular configuration, particularly if the county does consummate its decision to move to East Ninth and Euclid, has ample room for hotel, adjacent hotels, has the best configuration of existing hotels, in part because when we did the downtown plan and went through this drill in the late 1980s with the business community at the time, we concluded that the convention, the existing convention center was the best and most flexible site. You had the best roadway access and staging space for trucks and all the mechanical aspects of this, the best opportunity for structured parking that would service it. And we encouraged hotels to cluster around it, which is why the Hyatt is there and the Marriott and the... What was the Crowne, I guess the Crowne Plaza was a Sheraton at the time. And there are several other hotel sites. There are at least three other hotel sites that are easily identifiable to plug into the thing. Convention centers are extremely demanding physical programs, and the industry is increasingly fussy about make... about your facility meeting those criteria, and it is a buyer's game. There's excess capacity in convention centers around the country, and if you're not Chicago, Orlando, New Orleans—well it was New Orleans until everything fell apart—Las Vegas. There are few convention centers that people just want to go to, and everybody else has got to scramble for the business. So, you know, you're up against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and Indianapolis and all these other mid-tier cities which have... Boston's got a new facility. And these are all cities that have new facilities and they all are... All meet every criteria. And those are dimensional criteria: heights of ceilings, widths of buildings, numbers of loading docks, numbers of columns, spacing of columns, ease of in and out. You know, you pay for every minute you got a truck staged, and all of that goes to your bottom line. So whereas we looked at it—and we looked at it extensively, and we looked at it with what was then known as Cleveland Tomorrow—we concluded and recommended to the Planning Commission that the convention center site that the city owns is the best site. There have been numerous counterproposals and one that continues to float out there in Tower City, which is an interesting proposition but a site that, in my view, is too narrow and too constrained to handle the dimensional requirements, the basic facility requirements of a conventional convention center. It could be a conference center. It could be something that doesn't have these be these huge halls, and it's the halls and loading in and out of the halls that is the real problem. And one could look at that and say, well, we had a conferencing center in Tower City and used the I-X Center, which the city now owns, for the big hall events, the home and flower shows of the world, which don't do very much for downtown business at all, never have, never will. The auto show doesn't do much for downtown business, didn't when we had it down here, wouldn't if it came back. Those require big halls. Put them out at the I-X Center. Put your American Medical Association conference downtown. That would be a different ballgame, but to to put a traditional big-box convention center on a site as narrow and and steep as the Tower City site would be foolish. Right now, nothing seems to be happening. The community doesn't seem to be much interested in the convention center. We'll see. It's been... I've studied it for a long time, and I thought in the White administration it would happen as the thing that followed after the stadium, football at Browns Stadium. I thought it would happen in the Campbell administration. And frankly, I'm skeptical it'll ever happen.
Sandra Storey [00:58:06] What are your thoughts about the development of the lakefront?
Hunter Morrison [00:58:11] Well, again, a long story. Lakefront is mostly public land. The question of the lakefront is in part a question of balance and who's got to be accommodated there. That's always been the issue. It was largely developed as fill land, so sort of big blocks of land that don't have a lot of services in them, like Burke Airport is just dirt and streets and sewer lines and no water lines, so it's dirt, and some of which is not particularly good dirt. A lot of land, but not necessarily the greatest of land. Big challenge in a lot of the lakefront and how to tame the freeway, which is a barrier between downtown and the water, and that's where some of the discussion about boulevarding has come out, particularly from Dead Man's Curve west to Edgewater, all of which can be quieted. Some of that will happen as a result of the Innerbelt study, Innerbelt work. You know, thus far, we've really developed North Coast Harbor, have some, I think, some interesting approaches on Dike 14, have worked to provide a more compact arrangement for the port, but a lot more work needs to be done. And, you know, it's a question of whether the community can muster the energy to do it. The plans are there, the planning work we did in the Voinovich and White administration and that Chris Ronayne and Jane Campbell did during the Campbell administration. I think, answer the question of what should be done. There's over 200 meetings. You saw some... You've seen some recent press about subsequent follow-on meetings. But I think a lot of the public process has been accomplished with a very competent design plan, and the real challenge for the current administration is carrying it out.
Sandra Storey [01:00:16] What mistakes or sacrifices the city made?
Hunter Morrison [01:00:29] Well, I think it has in many ways thought much bigger than it can handle. It's just been a relatively small city with a relatively large appetite for development and sort of the... One of the repeating themes is these very big planning ideas that take an awfully long time, take several generations to execute. One can argue, absent the convention center, that it took 100 years to get the Mall that we have today. And my last piece was put in place in the Campbell administration with the north Mall development. And they, we took out... They took out a parking lot, which was not there legally and put a park. One could also argue that it's still not done in the way Daniel Burnham envisioned in 1903 because the whole west side of the Mall is sort of a set of junky buildings, including the county administration building and the annexes and the north end of the Mall, which is supposed to be terminated by a railroad station, never terminated and it doesn't get done right. So, point is that was a very, very big idea. And the capacity of the community... It's sort of a Chicago-scale idea, but we don't have a Chicago-scale budget or population or politics or development community. Other mistakes are, you know, allowing parking lots and surface lots to proliferate in our downtown and some of our neighborhood areas with the expectation that they'll be temporary and temporary is 20, 30, 40 years. So you got big holes in the fabric, and you see that a lot, in particular in the Warehouse District. Probably the biggest mistake, which was noted at the time, was running the railroad track along the lakefront, which has proven to be... And then compounding that with the freeway and the other public uses like an airport, all of which serve to distance the lakefront from the rest of downtown. Seemed like a good idea at the time in the 1940s. Turns out to be a not very good idea for the end of the last century or this century. These are... And the attitudes of ownership and the attitudes of entitlement that come from... The Port's got this and the airport's got that and ODOT's got this and the railroads have got that. It's very hard for anybody to say, okay, we're going to change all that. And you can change pieces of it incrementally, but we don't seem to have the sustained political will or the resources to change it dramatically. And again, Mayor Daley can get rid of. Meigs Field and can take Daniel Burnham's ideas for the Chicago lakefront and, after pumping probably a billion dollars of money into it and come up with Millennium Park, which is a phenomenal park, but he's got the the depth of philanthropy to put that art in there, to have Gehry's bridge and the like, to transform a very ordinary piece of dirt into a phenomenal public asset. We have yet to evidence that level of civic vision in the community broadly. We've done very well with projects like Playhouse Square, which we've been able to break down into essentially manageable units and implement incrementally around a big idea. And that seems to be one of the lessons here that if you have the big idea and then can break it down and accomplish stages and celebrate those stages, and assume that each stage has to hold its own, then we can make some real progress and create some really pretty good stuff. But the big, big ideas that are often touted as silver bullets and salvations don't generally work. Even Gateway, which was a big idea, was broken down into component parts and fit into the fabric of the city. Very successful. It's one of the most successful in the country, and it really learned in many ways from the experience of Playhouse Square that, you know, just come and chunk the thing out. The buildings have got to work on their own, they've got to work with each other, they've got to work with the sidewalks. It's got to be an urban solution that it looks like it's been there for a long time, not just an urban renewal project that drops off the back of a truck onto a site and doesn't fit. So some mistakes and some lessons learned, perhaps.
Sandra Storey [01:05:19] Interesting. What sacrifice does the city of Cleveland need to make—and maybe you've touched on this before—in order to have good progress in the future? What do they need to sacrifice?
Hunter Morrison [01:05:37] Well, it's not clear to me that, long-term, the city of Cleveland is viable. It's increasingly poor in a regional economy that's increasingly distant from it. Whether you call it regionalism or regional consolidation or power sharing or whatever, I don't know what you want to call it, but I think the same old way of doing business at the city and at the county level, which may have worked well for a dense industrial city with a healthy population and a healthy tax base, probably doesn't work today and probably won't work in the future. So I think a set of decisions about how do you make for a viable Greater Cleveland? That cuts across a lot of people's political self-interest. They are very hard to effect. But I don't see incremental change working very well, and I don't see the same level of broad regional cooperation that we saw in the '80s and '90s, as the population really has spread way out. When everybody remembered coming down to Santa Claus and going to the Silver Grille and getting a little cardboard oven for your little Christmas lunch, when Santa Claus lived downtown and when everybody worked downtown, it was a lot easier to say that downtown matters and the city of Cleveland matters. When everybody had just in that generation left the city, everybody that was out in the suburbs had some tie back. You know, my personal tie to Hough is an important motivator. I like to go back to look at what motivated a lot of the people and in pushing for Playhouse Square is because they remember going there. Now, we're replacing those memories with memories of coming to the new Playhouse Square Center. We're replacing those memories with memories of coming to Jacobs Field and the Gund [Arena]. Those are good things. We're seeing some development that spins out of that in terms of residential. Those are good things. But I'm not sure that it's enough in the in the broad scheme of what's going on in the region generally, and I don't see a lot of positive future for a community built around a working-class industrial base when that working-class industrial base has been under challenge and will continue to be under challenge by people who earn 60 cents an hour in in Guangdong Province, running in factories that I visited that look very much like the factory my factory my father had in Collinwood, only they're paying 60 cents an hour plus room and board to do fabrication, metal fabrication of quality work, and we're not paying anywhere near that in places like Cleveland, Ohio, and Youngstown and Warren. And those jobs are under threat. And that lifestyle continues to be under threat. I don't see it changing. So, it suggests that there are a set of political and economic readjustments that have to be made and if we can't make them, and some cities have. Nashville's made it and Louisville's made it. They've worked out a different way of thinking about the future. If we think about the future the way we thought about the future in the past, we'll go into the past. If we think about the future in a different way, we might just survive, and Greater Cleveland, Cleveland as a nameplate, may have a positive future, but it's I think it's pretty problematic right now.
Sandra Storey [01:09:30] What is your vision... If things went well for the city, where would you positively forecast the city in 20, 50 years? What needs to be built for this city to survive?
Hunter Morrison [01:09:46] Well, it's going to need... Any city grows around basically an economy. The reason people are in cities is because they have jobs. They used to have jobs and they lived there and they got some sort of pension or some sort of way of staying staying afloat, or they've got a family that takes care of them. But the economic base is the heart of any community. For this city and this region, and what's going on in the city is going on all throughout Northeast Ohio so it's not... It's not like Cleveland is all that special. All of the... All of the Northeast Ohio area, and in fact, all of Ohio, is suffering mightily from deindustrialization from the washout. And we're really the worst performing state in the Great Lakes in terms of population projection, in terms of our economic strength, from a state that used to be a major leader to state where in every community from Canton to Cincinnati you hear stories of downsizing, disinvestment, offshoring, globalization... Da-ta-da-ta. And you hear a very constant drumbeat. And we've seen this in the work we've been doing for Voices and Choices, the Voices and Choices effort to look at what people are saying throughout Northeast Ohio is very consistent in saying we want the education system to be fixed. At the primary, secondary and higher education level, people know that what we're doing across the board isn't working. We need to educate ourselves and our children for the future. That's where I put my emphasis in Northeast Ohio. And it is not just a city of Cleveland issue. And that's where looking at the region may be the only answer to systems like the city of Cleveland which are impacted by concentrated poverty. And for all the good efforts that anybody does we'll always be seriously impacted by concentrated poverty because that's the population that lives in the city of Cleveland. You want to see the population of the city of Cleveland, look at the Superdome. That's very much like New Orleans. New Orleans is a little, a little more African American population-wise, but they're both poor cities. People who are stressed. And people with limited resources, and the kids have limited resources, and it's real hard to educate yourself for the future when you're hungry, and you don't have a lot of parental support, and it's hard to get that, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So what the region needs to be doing and what people are telling us in the region needs to happen is we need to focus our effort not on convention centers and gambling and all that other nonsense. We have to focus on education and not on paying for education by subterfuge, paying for it directly, and not on paying for it and on kind of in a system that's been determined by the state supreme court unconstitutional four times. It ought to get fixed. That's what people are saying. That's what needs to happen. That's what will help to transform this area. We don't transform this area on stupid; we transform the and smart. Communities that get that will prosper, and communities that don't will die. It's very simple. The other aspect of it is we are not attracting people from elsewhere. For any number of reasons, we are not viewed as an exciting, welcoming place. And that's, again, sort of across the board. It's not just a Cleveland problem, it's a Northeast Ohio problem, and that has to do with the way in which we organize ourselves, how we treat each other. Is this an exciting, open-ended place or is this a tough, hierarchical place where if you don't know the right people, you don't get anything done? Is this an old mill town, because that's how mill towns worked, or is this a fast-paced place where ideas percolate quickly? It's more of an old mill town than a fast-paced place. The numbers that we've been looking at for Northeast Ohio—and again it'll apply to a Cleveland, it'll apply to a Youngstown, it'll apply to a Canton and an Akron—suggest that we don't do terribly badly in retaining our college graduates.We do actually pretty well. We do lousy bringing other kids, other parents' kids, other kids' parents, sorry, other parents' kids into our community. I mean, when your kid graduates from college, they will go somewhere else. You want to keep as many of them at home as you can, but they're gonna go to Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, someplace else. You want somebody else's kids to come to your place because it's exciting, interesting, innovative, engaging, and open-minded. And I think we have a very serious legacy in Northeast Ohio—and again I've looked at not just Cleveland but all these other communities—we have a very serious legacy of sort of a mill-town social and political structure that tends to be hierarchical, tends to be very limiting, tends to be authoritarian, tends to be un-open to new ideas, and tends to be uninviting to people different than yourselves, and tends to define us and them very narrowly. So the people who aren't us or them don't feel like they should waste their time here, don't come by word of mouth, don't come because you can get something to happen here. It takes a long time to get something to happen here. And that doesn't go unnoticed in an increasingly connected, wired environ... world out there. So I mean, I think the challenges are very basic. We've made a lot of big moves. The only one project that we didn't do, and I seriously doubt we'll ever do, is a convention center. I hope I'm proven wrong, but I don't see any evidence to the contrary. We've done a lot of the big moves. We've cleaned up the act, we cleaned up the river, we cleaned up the lake.,We've got some very important investments that have been made in culture like Playhouse Square and national and international significance, we've got a growing medical business, which is a driver, although it is not the salvation. But we do not yet have a place that—and I'm not just speaking of Cleveland, I think it's true of Northeast Ohio—a place that is going to be an attractor. And we do not have at this region and at the state level a consistent commitment to high-quality, affordable education. And we're going in the wrong direction on the state level with regard to state institutions getting more and more expensive and less and less open to people who don't, can't afford it. And we're clearly going the wrong direction, and the people are saying that at the primary-secondary level with regard to funding our system and training our kids for the jobs of the future. Train 'em well to be tested, don't necessarily train 'em well to think about and be prepared for the jobs of the future. So those... Those are some directions.
Sandra Storey [01:17:00] Do you see city planning having to do anything with the educational system? What's the relationship?
Hunter Morrison [01:17:10] It's a tenuous one. The Planning Department's powers are pretty well prescribed by the charter, and it has much more to do with physical planning and zoning. I mean, there are a lot of other actors in the mix that have more direct responsibility for the educational system. I think, you know, the Planning Department can provide advice and counsel, can take a position, but whether it can enforce that is questionable. I think you can do things and in the planning area that would encourage further educational investment. I think some of the work that was done by the Planning Commission and Landmarks around John Hay work to help consolidate the John Hay and School of the Arts campus, some ideas for linking that better to Case Western Reserve, those are essentially physical planning moves, a street vacation, a zoning change, a land transfer, crosswalks... Those are physical planning moves that are within the purview of the Planning Department that speak to a different way of looking at an educational campus and tying in a primary or secondary educational campus to a major private university. And there the Planning Department, because it can, its brief is pretty broad when it comes to sort of setting the table, could convene the Case Western Reserve people, the school board people, the traffic engineers, the county engineers, and say, can we like do a better job of linking this? And how do we link this to, this facility better to RTA? Is this a safe and attractive route? Are we encouraging kids from throughout Cleveland to come here easily? I mean, it's relatively easy to get to St. Ignatius on the train at West 25th Street from throughout the region, and we worked very closely with Father Walsh at the time to make sure that walkway, that pathway from that station to the front door of John... to the front door of St. Ignatius, was a safe and attractive way. We walked it. And we talked about how to instruct their boys how to cross city streets and not get hurt and made sure that it was an appropriate route. Well, you could do the same thing between Cedar Glen Station and John Hay, the Arts School. You make it better. It's okay, but it's not great. And that's the sort of thing a planning department can convene people around a bigger idea and not just say, Well, all we do is sign permits. Well, yeah, that's true. But you can ask some... And how does this building then link to the Cleveland Clinic? Have we brought the Cleveland Clinic people in? Does it link to the W. O. Walker Center? What's... do we make a crosswalk at Dearing? Do the kids... Are the kids able to walk through this building? The front door to front door, is that a safe passage? Is that something people want to do? Do we make sure that the John Hay Science School is involved? The other thing you can do, for instance, at John Hay with an emerging program in architecture is, and we've always—when I was there and Bob Brown now—have always been engaged with the next generation. Well, add some studios or add some classes or do some visiting talks as the Planning Department with the high school students in the school in the emerging architecture program to get the kids enthused about Cleveland, to plant the seed that says this is your town and you're going to design it. We're not going to be here forever. You're gonna take a responsibility. That's a very powerful long-term investment that a planning department can make because it's a planning department and because it has professionals who want to get engaged, and you can bring professionals from the department who grew up in Cleveland, live in... everybody lives in Cleveland, but grew up in Cleveland, went to the Cleveland city schools, and they can do role modeling and talk about what you're doing today in this class will prepare you to do this sort of job we've got, which will prepare you to help work with the neighborhoods to do a better tomorrow and get them in the frame of mind to invest their time, energy, and talent in the city, which is again a very long-term investment that has very profound returns.
Sandra Storey [01:21:39] The last question is, did you have anything else that you wanted to talk about? This is very thorough, very good.
Hunter Morrison [01:21:43] Oh, good.
Sandra Storey [01:21:44] Well, thank you so much for coming today.
Hunter Morrison [01:21:46] You're quite welcome. Can I get a copy of the tape?
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