Saturday, February 28, 2009

OB Photos: Loew Park & Oak Park Avenue

In Fall 2005, I spent my last semester of graduate school studying the area around Oak Park Avenue and Loew Park in the Ward 16 portion of Old Brooklyn. The objective of the project was for Master of Urban Planning, Design, and Development students to record observations on the aesthetics and physical aspects to garner a greater understanding of a unique part of Northeast Ohio, then offer recommendations with justification for improvements.

Located between State and Broadview Roads, Oak Park Avenue is lined with tall, mature oak trees growing from large tree lawns. These trees seem to reach for the sky with their branches opened proudly, forming a canopy above the street and creating a feeling of enclosure. Along Oak Park is a series of one-and-a-half and two-story bungalows, which were likely built during the 1920's. Longer setbacks from the street make homes appear more prestigious.

At Oak Park and West 32nd Street is the historic William Cullen Bryant Elementary School, an elaborately-designed brick building composed of organic-colored bricks and carved stone. Tall windows have been situated strategically in pairs to create a sense of visual harmony and repetition. Meandering paths approach the main entrance of the building, encouraging persons to visually explore its beautiful landscaping, which includes a wide array of trees, flowers, and other plants. Due to the work of neighbors and other community stakeholders, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District intends to renovate the existing William Cullen Bryant school, as opposed to razing and constructing a new building as previously planned.

Directly adjacent to and accessible from Oak Park Avenue is Loew Park, an expansive twenty-three-acre greenspace. Loew Park bears the name of Marcus Loew, who in 1920, established many of the theaters in Cleveland's Playhouse Square. Tall trees are scattered throughout the relatively flat space, with a well-kept green lawn.

Within Loew Park is an outdoor swimming pool that operates in the summer season. The City of Cleveland has budgeted for improvements, including the addition of a "sprayground," to be undertaken in 2009. The park also accommodates five baseball fields, which host games of several local leagues, picnic pavilions, tennis courts, and a playground.

(Editor's Note: My primary recommendations for Loew Park would be to establish an asphalt trail on the periphery of the greenspace to improve its accessibility to disabled persons, joggers, bicyclists, and dog-walkers, regardless of weather conditions or seasons. It could also serve as a safer, more direct route to school for children from the neighborhood, as well as connect focal points, like the playground, park entrances, baseball diamonds, and tennis courts. Benches can be situated along the trail for persons needing a break from exercise, looking to have lunch or read a book outdoors, or simply become engulfed in nature. Comfortable places to sit would convey to park patrons that they are welcome to stay a while. There currently is a deficient number of seats in Loew Park that are not associated with areas for active sports or the playground.)

To view a photo slideshow of Loew Park and Oak Park Avenue, please click here. The set also includes shots of Ralph Avenue, which borders Loew Park to the south.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OB Featured Business: Gentile's Imported Italian Foods

Gentile's Imported Italian Foods has been one of Cleveland's favorite family-owned and -operated bakeries and delis for more than fifteen years.

Located at 4464 Broadview Road in Old Brooklyn, Gentile's was founded in 1993 by Fillipo and Rachel Gentile, who emigrated from a small town in the Molise region of Italy. The couple worked diligently, Fillipo as a carpenter and Rachel as a seamstress, to attain the means necessary to fulfill its dream of opening a bakery, deli, and catering business.

Gentile's offers several prepared foods, including hot and cold sandwiches, homemade pizza, soups and salads, and dinners and entrees at very reasonable prices. The full deli menu can be downloaded here. A wide variety of non-prepared items, such as imported meats, pastas, sauces and dressings, and canned vegetables, are also available in the store's grocery section. Gentile's freshly bakes some of most delicious bread in town, directly on location.

But there's one item at Gentile's that takes the cake. It specializes in traditional Cassata cakes, made from a family recipe. Gentile's has a variety of Cassata cakes available, including strawberry, amaretto mocha, ricotta with chocolate chips and drizzled rum, and vanilla and chocolate cream with Benevento rum. Gentile's Cassata cakes are oftentimes available in the bakery case or can be ordered in advance. Other tasty baked goods at Gentile's include specialty cakes, cannoli, cookies, and many other pastries. Download the entire dessert menu by clicking here.

Gentile's also caters events and meetings. Customers can choose one of the family's complete meals or select from vast variety of main courses, pastas, vegetables, and soups and salads and create their own feasts.

Gentile's Imported Italian Foods is open Tuesday through Friday from 9am to 6pm, Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and Sunday from 10am to 2pm. For more information, please visit

Sunday, February 22, 2009

How Will Ward Redistricting Affect Old Brooklyn?

Join the Cleveland City Council members from the Near West Side neighborhoods and community partners to learn about the process of redrawing the city's wards.

In November 2008, Cleveland voters approved the redistricting of political boundaries so that one ward-based council member would represent every 25,000 residents. The passage of the ballot measure likely spells a reduction in the number of councilpersons, which will take effect following the elections to be held this November. Consultants are currently in the process of estimating the city's population and defining corresponding ward lines.

The meeting will take place on Wednesday, March 4 at 7pm at the Applewood Center, 3518 West 25th Street.

For more information, please visit the Cleveland City Council "Rightsizing" page on RealNEO.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Councilman Cummins Using the Web to Reach Out

Elected officials typically refrain from interacting with the public via message boards, forums, and blogs on the World Wide Web. However, Ward 15 Councilman Brian J. Cummins is not your typical elected official.

Councilman Cummins, who has spent more than a decade working to improve the Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Centre neighborhoods, has emerged on various websites to engage Cleveland residents, solicit new ideas, garner citizen feedback on pertinent issues, share important information about community projects, and be genuinely helpful to existing residents and others considering a move to Old Brooklyn.

On, a virtual community in which participants explore alternative solutions to problems plauging the Northeast Ohio region, Cummins has argued that a .25% sales tax increase in Cuyahoga County should not have been enacted without first having a site selected and that the proposed convention center should build upon the existing facility. Additionally, the councilman has initiated a dialogue on billboards in Cleveland and how Cleveland City Council should direct corresponding legislation. His work is often cross-posted on, a haven for individuals that sincerely love and support Cleveland and its neighborhoods, and Brewed Fresh Daily, which aggregates and encourages conversation about interesting blog topics and news topics of the day.

Most recently, Cummins has added comments to the Old Brooklyn forum on about the city's snow parking ban for a homebuyer considering a property without a driveway and short- and long-term uses for the site of the former Memphis School.

Councilman Cummins is even actively engaged in social networking on Facebook, and was the first member of Cleveland City Council to create a profile and begin connecting with like-minded individuals desiring to effect positive change in Cleveland.

So what does this convey about Councilman Brian Cummins? First, his level of engagement throughout the Northeast Ohio blogosphere is complementary to more traditional forms of contact. Additionally, his online presence indicates that he is accessible and receptive to constituents that may perceive communication with public officials to be daunting and intimidating. As evidenced in his writings, Cummins sincerely values and strongly takes into consideration the thoughts and opinions of members of the public when it comes to important local and regional issues, which makes him a true representative of the people.

Some of Councilman Brian Cummins' recent postings:
* Q’s – Medical Mart & Convention Facility
* Billboards in Cleveland & Akron

Thursday, February 19, 2009

February Old Brooklyn News Now Online

The latest issue of the Old Brooklyn News is now available for download online. Please click here for the February 2009 edition, which includes

* Understanding today's economy
* OBCDC welcomes two new board members
* SCR's Schwab Center relocates
* Sears Parts & Repair Service Center opens
* In honor of black history month, OBN continues saga about African Americans in Cleveland
* much, much more!

Old Brooklyn News, the award-winning monthly publication of the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation (OBCDC), has served the Old Brooklyn, Brooklyn Centre, and surrounding areas for over thirty years. To read previous issues of Old Brooklyn News, please click here.

If you prefer a paper copy, Old Brooklyn News is available at over 250 locations throughout Old Brooklyn, Brooklyn Centre, Brooklyn, and Tremont.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

OB Photos: Treadway Connector & Benjamin Franklin Community Garden

Last year, I decided to bicycle through and photograph two of Old Brooklyn's greatest assets, the Treadway Connector and Benjamin Franklin Community Garden.

The Treadway Connector is Cleveland first connection between a neighborhood and the Towpath Trail. This 2/3-mile trail meanders along the old Treadway Creek from Harmody Park at Broadale Road and Mayview Avenue to Jennings Road at Crestline Avenue. What's most amazing is the topography and the natural scenery along the way. To see a map of the Treadway Connector, please click here.

Last May, Councilman Brian Cummins was on Feagler & Friends on WVIZ to discuss the Treadway Connector. There, he mentioned that the cost of the Treadway Connector was slightly more than $1 million, with $750,000 coming from the State of Ohio's Clean Ohio Fund. Councilman Cummins contributed a portion of his Parks & Recreation allocation to the project as well. The project was a vision of former Ward 15 Councilwoman Merle Gordon, who was interested in exploring alternative uses of the neighborhood's underutilized valleys and ravines. He also stated that a Friends of Treadway Creek group, which consists of residents and other stakeholders, will be responsible for routine maintenance of the connector.

Located on Spring and Broadale Roads behind Benjamin Franklin School, Benjamin Franklin Community Garden allows Old Brooklyn families to adopt one of over two hundred plots of land to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. Thousands of pounds of produce from this 5 1/2-acre garden are donated to local food banks to held feed the hungry. The garden has been a focal point in the Cleveland Public Schools system's horticultural programs since 1924, and began serving as a community garden in the 1980s.

For more historical information about the Benjamin Franklin Community Garden, please visit the Cleveland Public Schools Horticulture page on the Cleveland Memory Project's website. For information about reserving a plot of land in the garden, please contact Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation at (216) 459-1000 or visit its website.

To view a photo slideshow of the Treadway Connector and Benjamin Franklin Community Garden, please click here.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Other Resources for News on Old Brooklyn

Our goal at Old Brooklyn Blogs is to bring together news and information about the neighborhood and possibly expand in the near future (hint hint). But in the meantime, here's some online coverage on the community we love.

Old Brooklyn News

* Old Brooklyn News, a monthly publication of the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation (OBCDC), includes feature articles on neighborhood businesses, events, and plans, as well as a comprehensive listing of upcoming community meetings. My favorite part of the award-winning publication is Lori Peterson's Community Toolbox column, which highlights a particular homeownership or housing repair issue and programs available to residents. New issues are available in hundreds of places in and around the community about the first of each month, but the online version is not always posted in a timely manner. We'll try to post when we notice the latest has been uploaded. Archived issues dating back to January 2006 are available online.

Brooklyn Sun News
* The Brooklyn Sun News is a weekly newspaper focusing upon the cities of Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights in addition to Old Brooklyn. Limited news is available online, though. The trick is to use the links in the left-hand menu to access news, community life, and more. New content is usually posted on Thursdays.

Old Brooklyn on UrbanOhio
* UrbanOhio is an online message board with discussion of all things urban with participants who are optimistic and genuinely love cities. Though it isn't an official source of news, there oftentimes is great positive conversation about various aspects of the neighborhood from past and present residents and others. You must be a registered user to participate in the forums.

We'll cross-post articles that are fun, interesting, or informative. So don't worry about having to wade through these links on a regular basis. We have you covered right here!

Have a link to contribute? Add a comment below or send us an email!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Welcome to Old Brooklyn Blogs

Hello, and welcome to Old Brooklyn Blogs!

A few of us neighborhood residents sought to become involved and help celebrate all of the great things happening here, including local businesses, upcoming events, and fascinating people.

In the near future, we'll be bringing all things Old Brooklyn - news, interviews, opinions and reviews, and much more. Please check back often for the latest from one of Cleveland's most dynamic and exciting neighborhoods.

If you have an idea, news lead, or helpful information to share with our readers, please email

Thanks, and enjoy!