Monday, March 30, 2009

OB People: Michelle Baran, Colburn resident, artist, and business owner

We at Old Brooklyn Blogs met Michelle Baran, a resident of Colburn Avenue near Broadview Road at last Saturday's Case Cares about Cleveland event. Michelle, an artist and owner of Bear Tracks Art, helped hang art, some of which is her own, in downtown storefronts. A resident of Old Brooklyn for about twelve years, Michelle has served as president of the Ward 15 Democratic Club for the last eight years.

What do you like best about living in Old Brooklyn?
My neighbors, my friends, and the people I have met here. I find that Old Brooklynites are full of passion, and genuninely care about one another. If something is going in Old Brooklyn, the rest of Cleveland will know. Why? Because we care about our community and what happens to it.

What brought your family to Old Brooklyn?
I have lived two years in my house before I got married. And I have been married for over ten years to my husband, Bill. So over twelve years, I have lived in the same house in Old Brooklyn. Once I got here, I was hooked!

In what way(s) are you involved in your community?
There are too many to mention, but some of them include: Volunteering with Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation; delivering ice melt to the seniors, helping to paint the homes of low-income families and seniors with Rebuilding Together Cleveland; working with Friends of Big Creek; participating in River Sweep for five years, hanging artwork on Pearl and Broadview Roads with Case Cares about Cleveland; assisting with the Brooklyn Centre Civic Association on its Garden Tour for the past three years and having the honor of creating the garden tour theme and flyers; serving as Democratic Precinct Commitee Officer for Ward 15, Precinct O for the past eight years; working closely with three different councilpersons in the past eight years; and most of all, serving as Ward 15 Democratic Ward Club president for the past seven years, which has truly been an honor.

What's your favorite neighborhood spot?
The Trail at Treadway Creek. Isn't that neat that we have a path that's away from it all, yet brings us so close to everything?

Where in the neighborhood will others typically find you?
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Dee's Old Brooklyn Diner
Dina's Filling Station
South Hills Antiques
Steve's Family Restaurant
Cafe Miami
Ziggy's Market
...Or just strolling down Broadview Road

To check out all OB People, please click here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Redistricting Finale

By now, everyone that reads Old Brooklyn Blogs probably already knows that Cleveland City Council decided yesterday to approve the redistricting recommendations established by Triad Research by a vote of 16-4. Unfortunately for the next four years, Old Brooklyn will be split into three political districts.

So before OB Blogs returns to its regularly scheduled programming, here are some links covering the yesterday's decision:

* Cleveland City Council released the final plan less than two hours prior to the meeting. (Communications Director Katherine Bulava said in an email that the download is much more likely to work in Internet Explorer than Mozilla Firefox.)

* WEWS News Channel 5 and 19 Action News had the best television coverage the events of the Cleveland City Council meeting on their newscasts.

* Paul Schroeder from Ohio Daily Blog captures some of the remarks delivered by Councilmen Cummins and Reed prior to the announcement that the redistricting plan was adopted earlier in the day.

* And finally, PD writer Henry Gomez summarizes the meeting and some of the events leading up to it, and shares insights into the futures of Reed and Cummins. He mentions that one small victory for Cummins and the community is that Downtown Old Brooklyn will be concentrated in one ward instead of two.

ADDENDUM 3/25/09: Cleveland City Council has posted maps of the 2010 wards, but they are very difficult to read.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Volunteer for Case Cares about Cleveland This Saturday

Last month, OB Blogs posted about Old Brooklyn resident Maria Dimengo's committed efforts to spruce up some of the storefronts in Downtown Old Brooklyn and along some of the community's commercial corridors. Her event, called Case Cares about Cleveland, will occur this Saturday, March 28, 2009.

Please consider joining to support the cause, help beautify the community, and meet other neighborhood residents and stakeholders. To participate, please email Maria at or visit her blog here.

From Maria Dimengo:

Hi everyone:

Thank you for graciously agreeing to help me on March 28. I updated my blog to tell you what we'll be doing, so I hope we can get some sun and fun in for a few hours on that day:

If it snows, we still have stuff we can do indoors :)

I'm doing my best to get organized, so here's what I know so far:

Some of us will be meeting at the Gavin Lee Party Center, 3315 Broadview Road, around 9:30 a.m. That's just so people can sift through the art and determine what goes where. I told people the event is happening from 10-4 only so people could show up when they want to. Let me know a ballpark time when you think you might be arriving.

The owner, Jack Amburghy, is graciously donating the space for us to hang out, use the bathroom, clean up, and have lunch.

If we have enough people, here's what I would like to accomplish (ambitious I know):

- Hang artwork inside the windows of Jack's properties (the party center, his wholesale furniture center next door, and Name Brand Paints just around the corner on Pearl Road).

- Hang artwork in Tom Pavlica's properties. Tom owns a couple of the storefronts next to Ameriflag and around the corner where Andre Holt's airbrush shop is located.

- Hang artwork in the Krather Building storefront

- Hang artwork in the storefront next to Name Brand Paints if the owner does not sign a lease agreement in the next few days. I will be contacting her this weekend. She owns the vacant storefront that has been covered in newspaper for several months.

- Hang artwork in the storefront owned by Jim O'Donnell. His space is located at the corner of Oak Park and Broadview, so I'm hoping a few people can just drive to that location after we meet up at the party center.

- Paint the outside of a small business at 4327 State Road. The owner, Helene Sroka, is an elderly woman who has been struggling with punks and graffiti. I think it could be done fairly quickly, since it's the side part of her building and it's small. I have warned her that I may not get there if I don't get a great turnout on that day.

- Clean the graffiti off the side of Broadview Tailors and Cleaners, 2023 Broadview Road. I dropped off a 5-gallon bucket of graffiti cleaner at her shop, so it's sitting there ready for us if we can get to it.

Here are some things I need, if any of you could bring them or allow one of us to pick them up and borrow them for the day. Please confirm whether you can deliver these, or else I will have to figure out a Plan B for getting them to the main location:

- ladders
- brooms (in case we get young kids who want to help)
- trash bags
- buckets/rags
- drills
- pliers
- hammers
- coolers - I could use 2 or 3 more
- fishing line or clothes line (to hang stuff)

I have money in my budget to buy stuff - just trying to consolidate/save where I can.

I'll order some food and have drinks on hand, once I see who turned out for the day. Jacob, I mentioned to you that someone planned on inviting a cub scout troop to help, but that has not been confirmed. I don't want them to hurt themselves, so I will let you know if a cleanup at Harmody Park would be a good alternative for them.

I know this is a lot to absorb, but since I am flying solo on all this, I really need your help! Please let me know if you still plan to make it ... I always have this fear that I will be standing alone with all this beautiful art and no one around to help!

P.S. - I am still uncertain how many Case students are going to make it. With the rapid and bus schedule clearly an obstacle, it will be hard to get an estimate until the day before/day of the event. I will be mailing them separately next week and trying to pick up some more stragglers.

Thanks a bunch!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Redistricting Round-up

Here's the latest on Cleveland City Council's ward redistricting.

* Last week, a map of redistricted Cleveland was released via Cleveland City Council's website. The Plain Dealer's Henry Gomez offers some observations about the newly proposed wards here and here.

* Ward 15 Councilman Brian Cummins posted alternatives that he and Executive Assistant Johanna Hamm produced with Triad on RealNEO and Brewed Fresh Daily. One alternative is more drastic, while the second is varies slightly the consultant's recommendations, but minimizes impact on Old Brooklyn. Cummins also posts what the new wards would look like as inkblots.

* Paul Schroeder from the Ohio Daily Blog reports that another emergency meeting of the South Hills Association took place Wednesday. He estimates that seventy-five people attended. Scroeder states that Ward 12 Councilman Anthony Brancatelli arrived at the meeting and abruptly left prior to it upon reading a letter critical of the plan to incorporate South Hills into an East Side ward.

* Schroeder also recaps Friday's presentation of the consultant's redrawn wards to Cleveland City Council. Only two days notice was provided to citizens to attend and offer their input. Schroeder includes remarks of Old Brooklyn and Mount Pleasant stakeholders allowed during the thirty-minute public comment portion of the meeting. Gomez offers his perspective as well in his Inside City Hall blog.

* Councilman Brian Cummins appeared on WCPN 90.3, Cleveland's NPR affiliate.

* Ken Prendergast, formerly of the Sun Newspapers, offers another summary of last week's protest and city council meeting in most recent edition of the Brooklyn Sun News, sharing some of the comments made by participating residents.

* Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation Board President Greg Huth wrote a letter to Council President Martin Sweeney that states, "Under the Redistricting Plan, if approved, OBCDC will be forced to cobble together a budget from four different ward councilmen, each representing a different constituency and with a different strategy for his ward." Huth continues to mention that any project of scale would be difficult to accomplish and that the unity that has been established in the Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn neighborhoods would be drastically affected. The board of the Cleveland Neighborhood Development Coalition, an umbrella organization for Cleveland community development corporations, passed a resolution in support of OBCDC's stance on the redistricting plan.

* There are no protests scheduled this week, but Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Centre residents who feel the redistricting process has been done improperly are encouraged to attend Monday night's Cleveland City Council meeting. A vote on the new ward recommendations is anticipated to occur.

For more information about the events that have transpired to date, please check out the tag "redistricting" on Old Brooklyn Blogs.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

City Council Posts Final Proposed Ward Map

This afternoon, Cleveland City Council posted a map of the proposed wards going into 2010. What's bad for Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Centre is that they're still divided amongst three and two wards, respectively. South Hills would be clumped into a district with Slavic Village. And OBCDC's service area would still be dissected into four political districts, which could potentially spell serious trouble for the agency.

Here's a related article from the Plain Dealer, and here's the press release from Cleveland City Council.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ward Redistricting Presentation to Council Friday Morning

OB Blogs received this email from Ward Reshuffle, a group that is advocating for a transparent redistricting process that is considerate of citizen input.


  • When: 9:30 am Friday, March 20th
  • Where: City Council Committee Room 217, 601 Lakeside Avenue N.E.
  • What: Council’s consultants on the redistricting of Cleveland’s wards will be presenting their final recommendations to Council. All Councilmembers should attend this important session

Allan Dreyer
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 4:28 PM
To: All Council Members; All Staff
Subject: Important Public Meeting regarding new city wards

There will be a public meeting on Friday, March 20th, in City Council Committee Room 217, at 9:30 a.m. Council’s consultants on the redistricting of Cleveland’s wards will be presenting their final recommendations to Council. All Councilmembers should attend this important session

---Allan Dreyer, Deputy Clerk
Cleveland City Council
(216) 664-4198

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Favorite OB Watering Holes

You can't deny that there's a certain mystique associated with some of the bars and pubs in Old Brooklyn. Some seem friendly and welcoming, while you don't know what to expect from others based on what you might have heard or seen in the appearance of buildings and storefronts.

As strange as it may seem, my curiosity has driven me and a few friends to explore the neighborhood's many watering holes. My personal goal over the next several months is to stop into every establishment to see what they look like inside and find out what kind of people they attract and serve. I ultimately hope to discover one or more spots within the community that have a comfy atmosphere and friendly people and make for great places to hang out and recommend to others, and determine which most exemplifies Old Brooklyn through and through. My initial efforts have been concentrated east of Pearl Road.

Here are the places I've enjoyed so far and a few remarks about each.

Steelyard Tavern, Broadview Road at Natchez Avenue
Located on Broadview Road a few storefronts away from Councilman Cummins ward office, Steelyard Tavern was a delightful surprise. It's housed in a old brick building that abuts the sidewalk, and the newly-renovated interior boasts a tin ceiling. Steelyard Tavern is somewhat small, but very quaint. It's one of the first OB bars I'm aware of that has a wider beer selection, including Cleveland's own Great Lakes Brewing Company. The crowd was very friendly and welcoming. The tavern's Myspace page says that it has "the vibe of Tremont in the heart of Old Brooklyn." I couldn't agree more. Here's another review from

Zeleznik's, Jennings Road at Harvard Road
Zeleznik's is truly an Old Brooklyn institution. I've previously written a post about Zeleznik's on Old Brooklyn Blogs, and the fact that it was one of the first in the series OB Featured Business speaks volumes about what I think about the longstanding pub. It's quite a charming place, and part of what I enjoy most is hearing what Peggy Zeleznik has to say.

Mike's Bar and Grille, Broadview Road just west of Valley Road
Again, I didn't know what to expect walking into a house converted into a pub. A lot of work seems to have been put into the interior, which was very nice, clean, and brightly lit. There are a few diner-type booths, a long pub table, and other tables in addition to an expansive bar. A large patio has been recently constructed on the front of the building, and I like the addition of a bike rack.

The Dirty Dog, State Road at Oak Park Avenue
The Dirty Dog is a quaint little corner neighborhood bar on one of my favorite Cleveland streets. After my group sat down, the owner stopped over to say hello and share a warm welcome. I suspect that he's a Cleveland firefighter because the 'Dog had that type of decor. There's a pool table, and like the Steelyard Tavern and Mike's, the bowling machine is a nice touch. I didn't get to check out the food menu, but the Dirty Dog does have a full kitchen.

Have somewhere you like to go? Post it here and let us know.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tonight's Ward 15 Redistricting Protest & Council Meeting

When it came time for Ward 15 Councilman Brian Cummins to introduce his constituents at tonight's Cleveland City Council meeting, around two hundred residents of Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Centre enthusiastically rose to their feet to convey their power in numbers and communicate that they will not accept the current redistricting plan for their neighborhoods.

More than fifty residents from each community braved a chilly lakefront breeze to participate in a pre-meeting protest at the steps of Cleveland City Hall, bearing signs saying "We are neighbors, not numbers," "Don't Sweeneymander Our Wards," and "Don't Cut Up Our Neighborhoods." After about forty-five minutes of shouting various slogans, Cummins arrived outside to address the loyal group. His message was that, as someone who has served the residents of Ward 15 as the executive director of Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation and council representative, the deep personal relationships he has established over the last decade have propelled him to fight in the best interest of the neighborhoods.

During the council meeting, Cummins expressed to leadership his dissatisfaction in how the redistricting process has been performed with highly political motives and without citizen input.

But probably the most exciting news of the evening for Old Brooklyn residents was that Councilman Cummins spent around three hours with consultants this afternoon crafting an alternative redistricting plan that would divide their neighborhood into only two or three wards.

Click here to watch WEWS Channel 5's video and here to read Henry Gomez's article in his Inside City Hall blog on

UPDATE: Here's another piece from Henry Gomez.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

An Update on Ward 15 Redistricting

Old Brooklyn Blogs last left readers with a summary of the events that transpired up until last Saturday afternoon. Here are the most pertinent items from the last six or seven days.

* As noted, an illustration of how Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Centre have been proposed to be gerrymandered was posted by Ward 15 Councilman Brian Cummins. In it, Ward 15 is spliced into four pieces, which are incorporated into Wards 12 (Slavic Village), 13 (Downtown, Tremont, Ohio City, St. Clair Superior), 14 (Ohio City, Tremont, Clark-Fulton), and 16 (Old Brooklyn, Stockyards). The entire plan still has not been made available for public review and comment.

* A group of Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Centre residents is organizing a mass protest on the steps of Cleveland City Hall on Monday, March 16 at 6pm. Protesters will then move to city council chambers to have a presence and demonstrate that they will not accept the destruction of the fabric of their neighborhoods nor the process by which redistricting has been performed without citizen input and in a politically-motivated fashion. Transportation via bus will be available beginning at 5pm from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo east parking lot. Attendees are strongly encouraged to come with their neighbors, family, and friends and to bring signs.

* South Hills Association members held an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss the proposal for their neighborhood to be incorporated into Ward 12, which is currently comprised of Slavic Village (North and South Broadway SPAs) across the Cuyahoga River and suburbs of Newburgh Heights and Cuyahoga Heights. According to the Ohio Daily Blog, about 100 residents attended on just a few days notice, and are furious and prepared to fight. South Hills residents have a four-part plan that focuses on contacting city council members en masse to convey their displeasure, organize as many residents as possible for the Monday protest, invite Ward 12 Councilman Tony Brancatelli and Ward 13 Councilman Joe Cimperman to hear their complaints firsthand, and possibly pursue legal action.

* There's been conversation about when city council will vote to approve the recommendations of Triad Consulting, the contractor hired by leadership to calculate population estimates by tract and draw new ward boundaries. Council must adopt new political districts to take effect in 2010 by April 1, or Mayor Frank Jackson will assume that decision-making authority. To date, a depiction of the new wards has not been released. News reports indicate that, in addition to Ward 15, Councilman Zack Reed's Ward 3 is slated to be eliminated under Triad's current plan. Both Councilman Reed and Ward 15 Councilman Brian Cummins have both been considered two of Council President Martin Sweeney's most outspoken critics.

* Bette Meyer, who served as facilitator of the forum to garner public input about Cleveland's political redistricting, sent an email to participants and how the process is very contradictory to the five major consensus principles that were identified by more than 200 citizens. In her message, she implores Clevelanders to contact the Clerk of Council and media to express that they want to see the proposed changes make available to members of the public for their consideration and input. A similar meeting for the East Side of Cleveland has been scheduled by community leaders on Tuesday, March 17.

* This week, WKYC Channel 3 broadcast two pieces about Ward 15 redistricting. A full interview of Councilman Cummins from Thursday is available here, and a story about how South Hills residents feel about their neighborhood becoming part of Ward 12 is here.

* Finally, fellow Old Brooklyn blogger Will at Skorasaurus has a full timeline of the redistricting process.

New information will be posted as it is received, so please bookmark Old Brooklyn Blogs for further details about redistricting as well as much more from Cleveland's Old Brooklyn neighborhood. Have additional info, a link to share, or remarks? Please post in the comments below.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Info on Redistricting Protest

Here's more information from Brooklyn Centre's Darren Hamm about the protest to be held Monday, March 16 at 6pm on the steps of Cleveland City Hall. To download the flyer, please click here.

Like last week, Old Brooklyn Blogs will soon amalgamate the series of events and discussions across the Web.

Do you know what is happening to your neighborhood this week? If Cleveland City Council has its’ say...we are all in for a big change. If you care about the future of your neighborhood you will join with us on Monday, March 16 on the steps of City Hall at 6:00pm.

In November 2008, we saw the passage of a ballot initiative that provides Cleveland City Council the ability to redraw our ward boundaries. It was stated publicly that Council’s process and goals for redistricting would seek to protect the integrity, as well as historic and natural boundaries of Cleveland’s neighborhoods. In reality, the effort is revealing itself as another great exercise in the time-honored tradition of gerrymandering.

What’s most disheartening about this process is not merely “politicians being politicians” by securing their power structures and eliminating their adversaries. Moreover it is the fact that we the residents and voters have no input about our own communities. That’s why we need to stand now against this action and demand that our voices be heard and our interests be considered.

The leadership of Cleveland City Council is planning to rush an approval of a map drawn up in the back rooms of City Hall without any of our input. If your fate is like that of Ward 15, you too may see your community cut into four pieces with it’s livelihood in the hands of rival political personalities. What will this mean for the valuable community services? What will this mean for the already disenfranchised and less fortunate?

Won’t you stand with us and ask, “what is happening to our neighborhoods”? We all work too hard to watch our hope and progress washed away by this political gesture. If we’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s that now more than ever we need thoughtful, innovative leadership. We’ve also learned that when we get together, united, our hopes can truly make change happen.

Please join us Monday, March 16th at 6:00pm on the steps of Cleveland City Hall at 601 Lakeside Avenue. We’ll proceed into the Monday evening Council hearing at 7:00pm. Attached is a flyer to be passed along to all. Bring friends, bring signs, and bring hope.

Together our voices will be heard. Together we can change the direction of our wonderful City.

Darren T. Hamm

For more information, see the following links:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Follow-up from Last Week's Redistricting Forum

This email originates from Bette Meyer, who facilitated last week's forum on Cleveland City Council's political redistricting. Please note that the forum is now being shown on cable channel 20 at 11am-12:30pm and 8:30-10pm every day this week.

To residents of Cleveland interested in Council re-districting:

Below is the compilation of the discussion group report-outs from the Community Meeting held March 4, at Applewood Center. Among the 200 persons present, there was strong consensus on the five major themes:


Since that meeting, some Councilpersons have been shown tentative maps of their proposed new ward. Councilman Cummins was not shown a map, but given a verbal description of the lines which are being proposed, dividing the current Ward 15 into sections to be given to four different Wards.

Based on the sketchy pieces that are being parceled out, it appears that the new ward boundaries may violate all of the principles listed above. Several neighborhoods are divided; there is still no public communication of the proposal nor opportunity for input; and the proposal appears to protect certain Councilpersons rather than attending to the concerns of the neighborhoods. In addition, although there has been no public release of the numbers on which the plan is based – there is at least a question as to whether the Federal “one person; one vote” provision will be met, in that the areas of the City which experienced significant population loss are not the same ones which are being divided or combined with other wards.

We have met with the Plain Dealer, and expect that they will put more of this on the public record. Councilman Cummins has made a “public records request” to secure the population data on which the proposal is based. It is not yet known when Council will receive the full proposal – but perhaps later this week. Council vote on this could be anytime between now and April 1. Councilman Kelley told the March 4 meeting that there would be a Council Committee scheduled to review the plan; but that date has not been set. We will notify you when we know anything further.

Please, NOW – send your questions/concerns to both the Clerk of Council and to the media, asking them to make the plan public and allow opportunity for public comment and input. Let Council know we are watching.

Thanks for all your efforts on behalf of our community,

Bette S. Meyer


Near West Side City Council Wards Community Meeting: Redistricting 3.04.09

Public Input and Overall Findings

(200+ attendees; 8 break-out groups yielded these consensus issues)

o Don’t divide the neighborhoods but use history and topography as guides for redrawing the wards
o Preserve the neighborhoods; keep the neighborhoods intact;
o The vibrancy of neighborhoods must be reflected in the new plan
o Keep CDC service areas within one ward (can’t be effective if broken up)
o Ensure there isn’t a disruption of support for neighborhood organizations
o One SPA=One Ward (use neighborhoods as criteria for ward boundaries)
o Use natural boundaries to determine the wards
o When two or more neighborhoods are contained within one Ward, strategically combine neighborhoods with similar needs and characteristics
o Ensure a realistic redrawing of wards by using identifying features that define sections of the city, and by evenly distributed population counts
o Use natural features and infrastructure as boundaries while avoiding obvious political gerrymandering (curly-cue tails)

o Transparency is needed throughout this process
o There needs to be a public opportunity to review the plan before it is enacted
o Keep public informed of the process and make as ‘open’ as possible
o Residents are concerned Council won’t have input from the public and CDCs
o Residents are concerned they are not getting all of the information they need
o Residents want the media to jump in, ask hard questions and focus attention on this issue
o Produce communication pieces in foreign languages
o Residents want a public disclosure of population numbers, plan, and community wishes
o Improve communication about this process to the public through the media and other technology
o Why aren’t other parts of the city having an opportunity to speak as this group did?

o Put community interests over political interests
o Don’t use ward boundaries to settle political scores (reward or punish)
o Emphasize practicality over politics- what works for citizens, rather than what works for politicians
o Repeating dysfunctional political traditions impairs and demeans the process
o Residents are concerned that those who made mistakes in the past are still in power and will continue to make mistakes now and in the future
o This is an opportunity to correct mistakes from the past

o Ensure the plan accurately reflects population losses and where they occurred
o Make sure decisions (# of Wards) are not based on “east and west” thinking
o Use real population figures, not estimates
o Seek to put the entire process on hold until the census is complete
o Feel the timeframe is too short, especially when this process will be redone in a few years

o Relative to provision for minority group representation (e.g. Hispanic, Asian)
o Relative to equality in ward population numbers


* Resident’s are worried their voices will be diluted with fewer Wards
* Ward representatives must act as champions and advocates for their ward
* History and historic preservation must remain, even if councilperson changes
* Improve the quality of the members of the council
* Will the allocation formula for CDBG funding change?
* How will this affect voting precincts?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Meeting Wednesday to Discuss Ward 15 Redistricting

This is from Henry Gomez's Cleveland City Hall Blog on If you're a Ward 15 resident concerned about the politically-motivated gerrymandering of Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Centre, please consider attending this meeting and the protest at next week's council meeting.

Old Brooklyn citizens schedule Wednesday forum to discuss City Council ward worries
by Henry J. Gomez/Plain Dealer Reporter
Tuesday March 10, 2009, 10:02 AM

The South Hills Neighborhood Association, which serves part of the Old Brooklyn area, will hold an emergency meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday to talk about City Council redistricting.

Councilman Tony Brancatelli, whose Ward 12 could be stretched west across Newburgh Heights and into the South Hills neighborhood, has been invited.

The meeting will be at the Brooklyn Heights Church of Christ, 2005 Schaaf Road.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

OB Featured Business: Zeleznik's Tavern

Zeleznik's Tavern, located at 4002 Jennings Road (about a mile south of Steelyard Commons), has a storied past and old-time charm.

The family-owned and -operated pub will celebrate its ninetieth anniversary in July 2009. Third-generation proprietors Peggy and Bruce "Buzz" Zeleznik actually live above the bar and proudly declare themselves two of the Industrial Valley's few residents.

During Cleveland's industrial heyday, it served as a haven for steelworkers and other blue-collar laborers. At a time, Zeleznik's was so popular that the bar was as many as four "deep," and the establishment would be consistently busy from 5:30am until 2:30am on a daily basis.

But Zeleznik's customer base has dwindled in recent years due to a dramatic decline in Cleveland's industrial and manufacturing jobs. Eager to continue their family's tradition, the Zelezniks explored new concepts that would attract patrons. So in December 2008, Zeleznik's re-emerged as Lady Z's, an alternative bar and dance club for women. Since its opening, Lady Z's has enjoyed steady business, hosting numerous parties, dinners, and other events. (Peggy insists everyone should feel welcome to stop in for a drink or dinner.)

No piece about Zeleznik's is complete without a description of its alluring interior. Inside is a woodburning stove that creates a feeling of ambiance and is comfy to warm up to in Cleveland's chilly months. Photos of Cleveland's history adorn the walls of a nook with a billiards table, and if that isn't convincing enough that the Zelezniks love Old Brooklyn and the city, strike up a conversation with them and it will not disappoint. The beautiful thirty-five-foot wooden bar, which has aged gracefully, bears slight impressions from the elbows of thousands of workers and others that have patronized Zeleznik's throughout its nearly nine-decade history.

Zeleznik's also has a kitchen, with offerings ranging from burgers and sandwiches to wings and tacos. For the Lenten season, perch, cod, shrimp, potato pancakes, pierogi are available in addition to the regular menu. Most recently, Zeleznik's has made Wi-Fi available free to patrons.

Zeleznik's Tavern is open 11am to around midnight Monday through Thursday and Fridays and Saturdays from 4pm to 2:30am. For more information, please call (216) 741-0100 or visit Lady Z's website here.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ward 15 and Political Redistricting

Over the course of the last couple of days, news has surfaced about how the Ward 15 portion of Old Brooklyn and the entire Brooklyn Centre neighborhood may potentially be impacted by the political redistricting to take effect in 2010. The plan for new ward boundaries is to be completed and adopted by Cleveland City Council by April 1.

Here's somewhat of a timeline of recent events and developments relating to Ward 15:

* On Wednesday evening, Councilmen Brian Cummins, Matt Zone, and Joe Santiago held a public meeting at Applewood Center to educate community members about the redistricting process and garner input about what should be considered in the redrawing of wards. No new information about what is being proposed was presented, despite the fact that draft ward boundaries had likely been prepared prior to the community meeting. However, Councilman Santiago eluded that his ward will gain 2,200 residents. Attendees commonly remarked that the process should be transparent and inclusive, and that neighborhoods should not be divided politically. Anthony Fossaceca at Ohio Daily Blog has a full recap of the meeting, as well as videos here.

* Thursday afternoon, Cummins met with consultants to discover that they favor a plan to splice Ward 15 into three parts that would be incorporated into Tony Brancatelli's Ward 12, Joe Cimperman's Ward 13, Santiago's Ward 14, and Kevin Kelley's Ward 16. He posted on that, under the plan conveyed to him, the area bounded by Valley Road to the east, Pearl Road to the west and Broadview Road to the south would be incorporated into Ward 13 (which includes parts of Downtown, Tremont, Ohio City, and St. Clair-Superior); Ward 12 (Slavic Village on the city's Near East Side) would encompass the South Hills neighborhood; and, the south and northwest portions of Old Brooklyn would become Ward 16. Additionally, the Brooklyn Centre neighborhood would be divided along Pearl Road, with the western portion going to a new Majority-Minority Hispanic Ward 14 and the eastern part apportioned to Ward 13.

* Henry Gomez of the Plain Dealer states, "One of the consultants, Bob Dykes, said that the plan should not be seen as a slight to Cummins, a constant thorn in Council President Martin J. Sweeney's side." Cummins has been an outspoken critic of Sweeney, adding speculation that this is a retaliatory and retributive act to rid the council president and Ward 20 representative of his rival.

* Cummins writes in his post, "After a long and spirited discussion (after I explained what is proposed and after the official civic association meeting - a 501c3), there was, and now continues to be actions in organizing protests at City Hall this coming Monday and every Monday thereafter until these extreme measures to break-up these neighborhoods are reversed or at a minimum tempered so as not to damage both of them so brutally." Tim Ferris from Brooklyn Centre has posted on the Save Our Land Blog that Ward 15 community leaders are organizing concerned residents on Monday, March 16 at 6pm at Gino's on Denison Avenue at I-176. They will be going be loading onto busses to fight the proposed redistricting plan before Cleveland City Council. Further details will be posted on OB Blogs as they become available.

UPDATE 3/8/09: Councilman Cummins has posted a map of what Ward 15 may look like if the current proposal is implemented.

Friday, March 6, 2009

OB Featured Business: Gaelic Imports

For over the last decade, Jim Henderson and his family have offered imported gifts and fare from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England in Old Brooklyn. Their store, Gaelic Imports, is located at 4882 Pearl Road near the former Corpus Christi school.

Henderson relocated with his family to the United States from Scotland at the age of ten, and sought to bring the flavor of his country to the United States. His Old Brooklyn shop particularly appeals to expats from across the pond, who he says make up sixty percent of his customer base.

A variety of delicious prepared foods is available daily, including meatpies, cornish pasties, bridies, sausage rolls, bakewell tarts, eccles cakes, empire biscuits, and shortbread. Gaelic Imports also offers fresh pork sausage links, beef sausage links, slice, black pudding, mealie pudding, and haggis.

One of the staples of Gaelic Imports is its imported chocolates and sweets. The store boasts Northeast Ohio's largest selection of European candies, including Nestle Aero Bars and Crunchies and Flakes, and special orders can be made if a particular product is not available onsite.

Additionally, clothing, jewelry, and novelty items are for sale. Henderson even measures men for kilts and has them made to order!

Gaelic Imports in open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. For more information, including a list of products carried in the store, please call (216) 398-1548 or visit Gaelic Import's website here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

OB People: Jeff Kipp, Treadway Avenue resident

In addition to OB Photos and OB Featured Business, Old Brooklyn Blogs is bringing readers another periodic feature called OB People. In OB People, we'll spotlight interesting residents, community leaders, business owners, and other stakeholders in Old Brooklyn.

Our inaugural interview focuses on Jeff Kipp, a Treadway Avenue resident. Jeff serves as the executive director of the Living in Cleveland Center, a nonprofit organization that celebrates Cleveland's neighborhoods and the plethora of exciting living opportunities within each of them.

What brought your family to Old Brooklyn?
I am a native northeast Ohioan and had a great upbringing in the suburbs. However, after returning to Cleveland from the University of Dayton, I knew I was looking for a different environment to live in.

While renting a house with friends in Lakewood I began checking out my options in the City of Cleveland. I was attracted to the density of urban neighborhoods and the proximity to the City’s entertainment venues. I knew I wanted to buy a single family home and I wanted it to be in an area that I could be comfortable in for years to come.

All of my self-guided tours throughout the City landed me back in Old Brooklyn, so I decided to concentrate my home search there. Ultimately I purchased a home on Treadway Avenue and have since gotten married to Tricia and we have added two little girls into our family (and neighborhood). Through my professional experiences, I have come to see and experience fantastic neighborhood development throughout Cleveland’s neighborhoods and many new residential opportunities for my family. But I must honestly admit, we would be very pleased to stay rooted right here in Old Brooklyn.

What do you like best about living in Old Brooklyn?
At work, I am often confronted with the old “City vs. Suburbs” argument. Old Brooklyn, and many City neighborhoods for that matter, blends the best of these two worlds. I grew up in Solon, which epitomizes the perception of suburban living - pleasant neighbors, nice houses, manicured lawns, and a range of available amenities. Old Brooklyn presents the exact same lifestyle opportunity, but with a much more diverse and eclectic set of offerings (OK, maybe the yards are a little smaller, here). I really like the population density that this City neighborhood offers. We still have a private lawn and garden, but we also have built-in proximity to so many more amenities and opportunities within the City.

Tricia and I always prefer to spend our social time in the City - at sports venues, new restaurants, museums, parks, bars, Playhouse Square, etc….I could go on….It just makes sense to live close to these amenities. Why would we want to live 30-45 minutes away from where we want to be?

Being a City resident, I personally feel a strong link to other City neighborhoods as well. Cleveland’s neighborhoods each have their own unique personality, but ultimately, they are all an integral part of the City. So while I live in Old Brooklyn, I still consider Tremont, Ohio City, Detroit Shoreway, Downtown and other neighborhoods my own. I believe this is an experience and feeling that is not readily available in the ‘burbs, where a resident’s identity is often defined solely by the subdivision they live in.

What do you think is Old Brooklyn's greatest asset?
Personally, I love Old Brooklyn’s connectedness to the City and the region. Living in the South Hills neighborhood, I am just minutes from the Jennings Freeway and I-480. This allows me to get downtown in 5-10 minutes, which makes for an incredibly easy commute to work! That freeway accessibility also allows us to easily reach distant suburbs in respectable time. Tremont is minutes to the north and the West Side Market is an easy drive up West 25th Street. Even closer is Steelyard Commons, the City’s largest shopping destination, which just happens to be conveniently located right next door to Old Brooklyn. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t take full advantage of that. Not a week (or day for that matter) goes by without my wife or me stopping by Starbucks and Target to pick up some “essentials”.

What is your favorite neighborhood spot?
I am going to go with the obvious answer here. We live minutes from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and certainly take full advantage of that. Our family pass to the Zoo is purchased religiously every year. We literally treat the Zoo like it’s our own neighborhood park. Having a three year old who loves animals, why would we not frequent this neighborhood gem? Taking the kids for a walk through the Zoo’s acres of greenspace makes for a perfect outing. We constantly solicit friends and family to join us. There is an open invitation for them to call us if they’re going to the zoo. We do our best to stop over and walk around with them. And then of course we always joke that we can be home before they reach their cars in the parking lot.

What do you say is Old Brooklyn's best kept secret?
Let me start by saying I hope this is not a secret. The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail has long been an asset to the region. This walking/running/biking path has been used by millions as a recreational outlet, as it extends from Cleveland all the way down to Canton. I must admit I had heard about it but never actually experienced it. I always thought it was just something that other people took advantage of.

Well now it’s connected directly to Old Brooklyn’s Harmody Park! That means that us City-dwellers, those choosing to live in the shadows of skyscrapers and sports stadiums, have direct access to a 70-mile recreational pathway surrounded by parks and protected from traffic. Words can’t describe how fantastic this is for Cleveland and specifically for Old Brooklyn.

Efforts are in place to connect this trail to other neighborhoods and ultimately to Lake Erie. But for now, it is a comforting feeling to know that our neighborhood already has an asset like the Towpath Trail Connector. Being in the business of promoting Cleveland and its neighborhoods, I believe this is certainly one of the most important assets for Old Brooklyn.

Where in the neighborhood will others find you?
Gabe's Family Restaurant
Michael's Bakery
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Harmody Park
Sausage Shoppe
Dina's Filling Station
Hudec Dental on Broadview (twice a year!)

Would you like to be featured in OB People? Send an email to

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March Old Brooklyn News Now Online

The March 2009 issue of the Old Brooklyn News is now available for download online. This month's edition includes

* MetroHealth introduces new community discount program
* Community Spotlight: M2K Technologies
* 2009 Benjamin Franklin Community Garden gardeners and prospective gardeners
* Community Toolbox: Free annual credit report - not score
* Doing residential or commercial repairs? What permits do you need?
* much more

For previous copies of the Old Brooklyn News, please click here.