Friday, February 20, 2015

Vacant Lot Plans in Cleveland

The City of Cleveland’s City Planning Commission proposed and initiated an eight step plan for the reuse of vacant lots. The plan would be used to outline the re-purposing of 56 vacant lots throughout the city. The area of Cleveland is about 82.47 sq miles, so this project covered a massive amount of land. In addition, they have created a land bank consisting of over 7,500 vacant lots under public control in order to promote urban agriculture. They proposed plans to transform old/unused railways into greenways and trails, and updated zoning policies to preserve areas for urban farming and wind turbines.
The Eight Steps:
1.      Stabilization
2.      Urban Agriculture
3.      Storm water management
4.      Greenspace Expansion
5.      Alternate Energy
6.      Contamination Remediation
7.      Land Assembly
8.      Sustainable Development Pattern

                                                     One of Cleveland’s Community Gardens

In practice these steps resulted in more things being planted throughout the area, more than 230 community gardens/farms being established, and trees being planted on vacant lots to improve community air quality. Other functions that were improved include the creation and retention of nutrient-rich soil, improved aeration, and increased water-holding capacity. In addition, the practices that the caretakers of the lots have implemented promote soil fertility, reduces the need for irrigation, filters storm-water, reduces reliance on weed-killers and pesticides, controls erosion, and reduces weeds.In 2009 the City of Cleveland allocated $500,000 of Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) towards the creation of the 56 sustainable vacant lot re-use projects mentioned above. There were 13 individuals involved with the creation of this plan, along with 17 partner agencies.

This plan was implemented in a city that is both much larger than Springfield and has better financial resources. However, that is not to say that Springfield cannot create and implement a large-scale plan to tackle the city’s vacant lot issue. Already, the City of Springfield has created the Memorial Tree Fund. For $110.00 the city will plant a tree that you can dedicate in honor of a loved one and will maintain it for three years. In late 2014 a Mow-to-Own project was proposed. This would allow people who live next to a vacant lot to care for it for a designated period of time, and when that time has elapsed they would be given the property. In addition, Clark County has established a Land Bank.
A Mow-To-Own Property
However, there is still a lot of room for improvement. The creation of a program in partnership with local schools to create and care for gardens within the city are a possibility. If land cannot be procured, students could care for individual potted plants. Community gardens or rain gardens being created in some of Springfield’s vacant lot would help remedy both the weed and erosion problems. In addition, having added vegetation such as trees, shrubs, more controlled grass growing in lots would not only remove the need to mow, but also help to improve air quality and the aesthetic appeal.


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