Support Needed for Public Square Makeover

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CLEVELAND -- A major makeover is in the works for the heart of downtown Cleveland.  But it will take public support to change Public Square.

Since the city’s forefathers envisioned it some 200 years ago, Public Square has been a pathway for pedestrians and a meeting place.  But now some city leaders would like it as green space that transforms the plaza into more of a park.

“I think it would help give Cleveland its soul back,” said Garfield Heights resident Robin Borawski as she and her son walked through Public Square Thursday.

Nationally renowned landscape architect James Corner envisions changing the ten acres of Public Square with trees, grassy areas and other attractions to give people a reason to come downtown.

Businessman Derek Green thinks it is a great idea.

“It's going to get an opportunity to have folks congregate downtown, create some park space.  I think it's going to be fun for the kids,” he added.

Tony Coyne is chair of the Group Plan Commission spearheading interest to revamp Public Square.

"We want to try to make the square a vibrant place to be and something that is going to complement properties around it, whether they're businesses, hotels, where people live,” Coyne said.

Borawski agreed.

"Tower City is a fabulous place to be to begin with.  I think they would profit greatly from it,” she added.

Coyne said traffic patterns around Public Square would also change.  The plan calls for two blocks of Ontario Avenue to be closed and Superior Avenue would be open only to bus traffic.

"But we could also close off the square on weekends.  And this is our goal to have it so you could use Superior, for example, as a farmer's market or as a festival space,” Coyne said.

The proposed price tag for the Public Square Project is estimated at $40 million, with monies coming from both public and private sources.

"Anything that we can invest, that we can make to attract talent into Cleveland and keep talent in Cleveland, I think it's a good thing. It's an investment in the future,” Green said.

The Public Square proposal is still in the development stage, but Coyne said if it gains enough public support, the plan is to have Public Square transformed in about two years.