Monitoring Sustainability in Cleveland

Submitted by Kevin Cronin on Mon, 02/06/2006 - 09:21.

Cleveland City Council recently hosted hearings on sustainability programs of the City. an effort to take a long-term look at city acitivities and their cost and impact.  I was pleased to attend, but I have to confess to being less enthused than other comments I've read.  The content of the hearing, the report of the "sustainability initiatives" by Cleveland Sustainability Manager Andrew Watterson and the overall value and importance of sustainability initiatives by ECOCity's David Beach, was absolutely terrific.  Mr. Watterson has done a great job to engage offices to embrace initiatives and really move forward.  David Beach framed the overall issues effectively and clarified the importance of sustainability for the overall health and progress of the region.  Sadly, however, I thought the demonstration of value was largely one way and several Members of Council demonstrated only moderate familiarity, appreciation and understanding of the issues.


Recall that the funding for the sustainability initiatives was entirely provided by outside foundations, rather than through Cleveland’s own budget.  Council will need to provide funds itself at some point to sustain or build on these initiatives. The most insightful comments were those of Council Public Utilities Subcommittee Chairman Matt Zone, who deserves credit for moving the hearings forward. Councilman Michael Polensek's suggestion that Council create a special sustainability subcommittee, when they haven't even put their own or additional money into the activities, seems very premature, a style change rather than a substantive commitment.  Further, the same Council member suggesting Council’s ready for a special subcommittee also raised phantom concerns that Bald Eagles, not currently known to be nesting along the Lake in Cuyahoga County, were somehow at risk as a result of a decision to test for the level of wind power capable of being generated miles off shore in Lake Erie.


If Council wanted to demonstrate their commitment, they should offer additional resources or compel more city agencies to commit to sustainability, not hollow reform like creating a special subcommittee.