SCI 2014-15: Cleveland, TN

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Congratulations to Cleveland, TN, the 2014-15 SCI pilot year host! Cleveland submitted an outstanding proposal, with a collection of interrelated projects focused on the revitalization and re-use of the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. Find the full proposal here!

The SCI is in the process of identifying fall, spring, and summer course matches for each of these projects. For each course/project match, Cleveland will designate a Project Lead to work with the faculty person on the project. Project leads will 1) provide access to any prior information or materials, including concept plans, aerial maps, datasets, etc. to ensure the project’s success, 2) enlist the participation of City staff and stakeholders to provide feedback and recommendations, and attend student presentations, and 3) assist with engaging the public as needed. Travel and course design expenses (up to $1000) will be covered by the SCI.

Please email kellenb@utk.edu for more information about how to become a 2014-15 faculty partner! Projects include the following:

1.      Way finding and signage plan for APD-40 Bypass—the by-pass connects to I-75 at Exit 20 which has been proposed to be developed as “the Ocoee Regional Gateway” because it provides access not only to downtown Cleveland and Cleveland industrial areas but also to the Cherokee National Forest and theOcoee River whitewater rafting venue in nearby Polk County. During the comprehensive planning process there was a call for better coordinated signage for street names and directions to local points of interest including those located in the downtown core. A signage plan is needed that includes locations, designs, and content for appropriate signage that is coordinated with tourism officials, TDOT, and the Cleveland Public Works Department and its sign shop which can produce the signs.
2.      Design Plan for Planned Veterans Park on 25th Street—the proposed Veteran’s Park will be located adjacent to Fillauer Branch and 25th Street/APD-40 on land already donated within the Spring Creek Development, a new area of upscale housing and retail development at the northeast corner of the downtown core. Cleveland Public Works is capable of building the park but a design plan is needed for this small passive park near the Greenway’s Fillauer Branch extension that will connect adjacent neighborhoods to the downtown via the Lee University area.
3.      Housing Conditions Survey for Central City Area and CDBG target area— these areas are generally located in the Central City Plan area and the southeastern part of downtown. Here is the oldest housing stock, greater concentrations of rental housing, greater concentrations of low-income population, greater racial and ethnic diversity, a greater incidence of code violations pertaining to building and lot conditions, etc. Impact Cleveland is poised to conduct detailed resident interviews to ascertain community needs, using an existing survey tool and working in cooperation with Lee University and Habitat for Humanity. This effort is concentrated around the Blythe Avenue Safe Haven social service center (a former elementary school) where Cleveland is seeking to provide sidewalk and bus shelter improvements with funding from TDOT’s Multi-modal Access Grants program. Habitat and others will cooperate in a privately funded housing rehabilitation effort in this Blythe Avenue area. What is needed is a survey of the physical conditions of the housing in the Central City Area and CDBG target area, including the Blythe Avenue area, to help better direct public and private resources for housing and neighborhood improvement.
4.      SR60 Access Management Plan Standards for portion inside Cleveland—Cleveland and Bradley County entered into TDOT-led process for access management planning along the State Route 60 corridor which runs diagonally across the County and through the City, generally from the state line near Dalton, GA toward the Tennessee River and beyond to Dayton, TN. The entities entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and an SR 60 Corridor Management Committee was established and they are meeting quarterly. TDOT has recently completed a major widening project on the Dalton Pike portion just south of Cleveland and is poised to begin ROW acquisition for a major widening on the west side of Cleveland on the Georgetown Road section. Within the Cleveland Comprehensive Plan some possible access management standards have been identified but a more detailed plan is needed for how to implement access management along the SR 60 corridor, especially inside Cleveland where surrounding land use ranges from heavily developed older commercial areas to newer suburban residential areas. Some aspects of this project could be constructed as part of future public ROW improvements but others would occur as part of private development and redevelopment, such as driveways and site related ROW improvements.
5.      Planning level survey and plan for sidewalks on Inman Street (Broad to Keith) — Inman Street passes east to west through the heart of Cleveland. The area west of Broad Street to Keith Street is a densely developed mid-1900s four lane commercial corridor mostly without sidewalks and without bus shelters. The Greenway is to be extended south to Inman Street and perhaps thence eastward along Woolen Mill Branch (see proposed project below). The terrain falls rapidly westward from Broad Street and much of this area is generally level and poorly drained, being essentially creek bottom land that has been paved over for decades. ROW and drainage will be key issues in planning for the needed sidewalks. Design alternatives should consider retaining the existing four-lane and a lane reduction. Coordination should occur with traffic data and bus shelter projects described herein. Cleveland would expect to fund additional steps necessary to construct this long-sought project, which is consistent with the MPO 2035 Regional Transportation Plan and the 2008 MPO Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, through resources from the Cleveland Urban Area MPO and/or TDOT.
6.      Plan for Reducing Lanes and adding on-street parking on Inman Street in CBD— This project was originally proposed as part of Mainstreet Cleveland’s Downtown Plan and it has been carried forward to the Cleveland Comprehensive Plan and Central City Area Plan. It affects the part of Inman Street from Broad Street to the Southern Railroad underpass at the Five-Points area adjacent to the transit station in the historic depot. In the Five-Points area east of Church Street businesses tend to front on Inman Street but with little vehicle and pedestrian separation and no on-street parking. Narrowing Inman Street beginning west of Church Street would allow for wider pedestrian and sidewalk business areas along with landscaping, street furnishings, and on-street parking, provided that existing and anticipated traffic can be accommodated. Roadway drainage would also need to be addressed in planning. Funding sources for future engineering and construction would have to be identified but the project would be eligible for a variety of transportation funding sources.
7.      Study of low-clearance rail underpass on Inman Street and possibilities for improvements— limited height beneath the Norfolk Southern Railroad underpass on Inman Street has long plagued Cleveland, with trucks and RVs hitting the underpass roof and getting stuck underneath being a regular occurrence that still happens despite warnings to drivers. This is a mainline railroad carrying well over 20 trains per day on track atop a fill bed that pre-dates the Civil War. Beneath the underpass, Inman Street is at the bottom of a bowl that rises east and west of the railroad. Underground water is said to be present here. Infrastructure improvements, alterations in traffic, and or some combination of the two could possibly bring reasonable (in terms of cost/benefit) improvements within this constrained environment. Funding sources for future engineering and construction would have to be identified but the project would be eligible for a variety of transportation funding sources.
8.      Gateway design plan for Inman Street from railroad to APD-40 by-pass—This area runs eastward from the railroad through what has historically been the commercial and cultural center of the African American community to the APD-40 bypass at the only full cloverleaf intersection in Bradley County. In this section Inman Street tapers from four to two lanes before widening to the four-lane divided Water Level Highway near the clover leaf. Difficulties in providing sewer service, a prior lack of zoning constraints, an old landfill, and other issues have led to junkyards and other such uses in this corridor which is in effect Cleveland’s entrance from nearby North Carolina and Georgia along U.S. 64/ Waterlevel Highway (future Appalachian Corridor K). Closer to the railroad in the historic African American area, problems of irregular lot sizes, deteriorated buildings, difficult business climate, etc. have plagued revitalization. A gateway plan is needed to address these issues. Transportation funding sources and other resources could be used to develop this project in phases as necessary and according to opportunities that arise. Based upon neighborhood meetings and the comprehensive planning process (where things like sidewalks, pedestrian level street lighting, parking, and retail development have been mentioned) it is likely that a prioritization of plan components is needed in the historic African American area.
9.      Bus Shelter Plan— Recently the Cleveland Urban Area Transit System (CUATS) updated its transit plan with a route study and other information in cooperation with the MPO. Bus shelters do not presently exist along bus routes. Pedestrian access and other issues are also problems at some bus stop locations. Strategically located bus shelters and other improvements to bus stop locations should make transit use easier for many riders. A bus shelter plan is needed to identify the best locations for bus shelters (with priorities), as well as design criteria for the shelters, and strategies for paying for the shelters (acquisition, construction, and long term maintenance). Public/private partnerships that involve the provision of advertising space are a possibility that should be explored.
10.  Survey and design of Blythe Avenue area sidewalk extension to 20th Street SE— this sidewalk need has been identified by neighborhood residents and is consistent with the 2008 Bicycle Pedestrian Plan and the Central City Area Plan. Combined with existing sidewalks and sidewalks under development (recently submitted to the TDOT Multi-modal Access grant program), it would complete a pedestrian friendly perimeter to the neighborhood and connect is with Blythe- Bower elementary schools, shopping, and social services. Topography, drainage, narrow ROW, small lots with houses near the street, limited parking, and economic hardship will be issues in this planning process. The work should be sufficient to establish NEPA “purpose and need” in the event of future federal funding through the MPO for ROW and construction.
12.  Pending notification and approval of Bradley County Health Department (and financial support) facility improvement and expansion analysis for health department— the health department is inside the City near Inman Street and is within the Central City Plan area. It serves residents across Bradley County but also many clients from surrounding low-income neighborhoods and public housing sites. The existing facility was built in the 1970s when the area population was substantially lower. The Health department Director, Dr. Eloise Waters, has cited a need to improve and expand the existing facilities due to crowding and deterioration. A facility and site study could be done if this is agreeable to Bradley County and the Health Department and these entities can provide the necessary funding to participate in the SCI program for this project (they would also need to provide the necessary municipal personnel under the program requirements for this project). This project suggestion is made provisionally.
13.  Redevelopment plan for Central City brownfield area outside of Whirlpool site— this is part of the Central City Area Plan and involves mostly older railroad oriented industrial properties that are in need of re-development. A primary economic driver in the area will be the redevelopment of portions of the adjacent 90 acre Whirlpool site after relocation to the new factory site a few miles away is complete. A brownfield redevelopment plan needs to be done that deals with non-Whirlpool brownfield properties and the adjacent residential areas. Within the Whirlpool site there are some buildings that will likely remain and others that will be demolished and property that may remain in use by the company or sold to others. There may be opportunities to reopen portions of the enclosed Woolen Mill Branch that crosses the site and to create additional green area in what may become a mixed use environment. However, this SCI project should not encompass the Whirlpool site but only other surrounding property. The City has joined in a regional assessment grant coalition to EPA and these funds could be available for some site assessments in this SCI Project area. The City has previously submitted a Brownfield Planning Grant proposal to EPA as well as a Brownfield Assessment Grant application, so there is quite a bit of information about the area and TDEC and EPA are familiar with it. Funding for long term implementation of this project would likely be from a variety of public and private sources.
14.  Development of a computer-based citizen input tool for citizen questions, comments, and complaints regarding city services and potential improvements to these services— this tool could entail a survey system or platform that allowed for a static but systematic collection of data with citizen input across a range of city services and facilities. It could also include a more dynamic element with one or more modules for specific purposes, such as collection of data from university students or some other population. It might also allow for data collection on particular topics such as citizen choices when allocating finite funds across a range city services. The City’s IT functions are maintained by its subsidiary Cleveland Utilities and personnel from that department would be instrumental in the development and implementation of the survey tool. The survey tool and the related software and training through which to deliver it would be separate components of this SCI project. Alternatively, the SCI project could recommend the use of existing commercially available software for one or more purposes of the survey tool. Compatibility with existing city systems and proposals for employee training, on-going system maintenance, and data storage and analysis, should be a part of the project.
15.  Water quality-related data and analysis for streams covered by the City’s NPDES permit— the City maintains an NPDES permit in five-year cycles. Periodic data collection is necessary within these permit cycles and much cover the 303(d) list impaired streams within the approximately 27 square miles inside the city limits. The City’s major drainage basin, South Mouse Creek, flows along the western perimeter of the downtown core which is also impacted by the two main tributaries, Woolen Mill Branch which flows through the heart of town and Fillauer Branch which flows generally near the western boundary of downtown. The City maintains its permit which covers the stormwater drainage system in cooperation with TDEC which is in turn accountable to EPA. Documentation of conditions along stream banks, conditions of outfalls, water quality testing, monitoring of prescribed flora and fauna, are among the things that must be done periodically. Within the SCI project it is likely that work would primarily involve the collection, mapping, analysis, and reporting of descriptive data on the stormwater collection, treatment, and conveyance system, e.g. the size, location, and condition of catch basins.
16.  Traffic and Roadway Data studies include traffic counts in specified areas and review of roadways with substandard lane widths, limited shoulders, and roadway geometry issues— Collection of this data would be consistent with the MPO’s 2035 Regional Transportation Plan and with the Cleveland Comprehensive Plan. Cleveland has grown outward from a very compact downtown to encompass what were once adjacent agricultural areas. Here what were once little more than farm roads have been pressed into service as collectors and arterials. Narrow lanes, lack of shoulders, and severe horizontal and vertical curves within a constrained ROW can contribute to safety problems along these roadways. Roadway safety has become a primary initiative at TDOT in light of the impact of accidents and the limitations on dollars available for roadway construction. The City of Cleveland and the Cleveland MPO would like to be in a better position to work with TDOT to seek funding for safety-related improvements and to identify the locations that may need to be improved with local resources. Specific design and construction of such projects is moving through TDOT at a vigorous pace, so funding for some of the improvements identified as a result of the SCI project is very likely. Traffic count data would inform a variety of transportation projects and counts would need to be coordinated with the traffic management staff at Cleveland Utilities, the MPO, and the City Engineer.
17.  Plan for extending the Greenway along Woolen Mill Branch— several miles of Greenway have already been constructed along South Mouse Creek. The Greenway is presently intended to terminate along South Mouse Creek at the Village Green shopping center on the southeast corner of Inman Street and Keith Street, a large 1960s era shopping that has found new life as an office and retail complex. The Village Green is enveloped by South Mouse Creek on its west side and by Woolen Mill Branch on its north and east side. Streets and buildings are generally built adjacent or over Woolen Mill Branch as it winds its way across town from south of the Whirlpool plant site. Opening some of the Woolen Branch with a stream buffer area could provide environmental, flood control, and recreational and amenity benefits for downtown Cleveland. Challenges would include impacts on existing businesses and the street network, and with all of that cost. But a planning analysis is needed to identify potential opportunities, benefits, and costs. The SCI project would position Cleveland to seek public and private funding for further design and development of a Greenway extension along Woolen Mill Branch where that stream and its banks are uncovered. The Greenway has proven to attract thousands of walkers and bicyclists and to benefit adjacent businesses.
18.  World-class Mountain Bike Course at Exit 20 Ocoee Regional Gateway — about 10 years ago Cleveland began to annex land around I-75 Exit 20. TDOT is currently constructing improvements to the bridge and ramps at this interchange, and it is poised to construct a planned new interchange nearby on the APD-40 by-pass. This new interchange connects with the I-75 frontage to provide interstate access; one of the necessary connector roads is nearing completion and the other is under development. A private developer is preparing the soon to-be opened retail frontage in the southeast quadrant of Exit 20 while the local Economic Development Board is preparing to open a 300-acre LEED-certified industrial park. A large portion of the lands acquired for the industrial park are being left undisturbed for stream protection, etc. It has also been intended that there would be some recreational use(s) within this area that is encompassed within the proposed Ocoee Regional Gateway. Local bicycle groups have begun coordination with the property owners and others, including some foundation funding resources, in hopes of developing a world class mountain bike course that would extend through a portion of the industrial park property and other adjacent properties. This project would promote the preservation of open space together with compatible economic development. A plan is needed that explores the environmental and economic benefits and costs within the framework of appropriate design concepts and positions the community to pursue public and private funding sources for the development of the mountain bike course in cooperative partnership with the property owners and other entities involved.
19.  Development of a Marketing and Branding Plan for the City of Cleveland—Two years ago Cleveland adopted “The City with Spirit” as the official city slogan. This slogan reflects the community’s strong work ethic, progressive attitude and significant religious heritage. However, the city needs a marketing strategy to incorporate the local identity with a clear message and consistent branding. This marketing plan will also assist further in creating and reinforcing this local identity. This plan could be used to develop a consistent style of public improvements in public spaces as well as consistent imagery and markings for local signage. The plan would also be used to promote tourism through the development of a signature branding message to the regional, national and global marketplace.