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Cleveland's unfinished business despite a downtown resurgence

Posted at 6:40 PM, Jan 10, 2018

There is unfinished business in Cleveland.

What is unfinished requires constant attention. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson knows that. He will be put to the test now that he has won an unprecedented fourth four-year term as the city's chief executive.

Eight days ago, Mayor Jackson was sworn in to the fourth term. As he has done for the last three terms, it is roll-up-our-sleeves time. It will be hard work. It always is leading a city this size.

When he won, Mayor Jackson said voters gave him a new education - one about governing, about what it means to serve, about the pain and suffering that people go through.

Jackson spoke on the need to relieve pain and suffering and the need to create an environment where people "can have prosperity and quality of life and just plain peace."

Well-meaning people want that in this city, which is peppered with violence. You need only look at the top of this newscast to see how violence harms the lives of people and of any community.

Certainly, we see too much gunplay and murder on city streets. Jackson, his administration and police have to deal with that. The administration also has to deal with abandoned properties, which are eyesores tearing at the fabric of neighborhoods and providing hideouts for criminal activity. It is a county-wide problem, and one which spills into other Northeast Ohio counties as well.

Yet at the same time, Cleveland is seeing a resurgence, especially in the downtown area, with new hotels and plans for more apartment living. Today, more than 13,000 people live in the downtown community. There are plans for that number to eventually swell to 25,000 downtown residents. Bravo!

Cleveland has made enormous progress in that area. Downtown is alive and is a destination. I am a longtime city-watcher who grew up here. I covered the stories of the historic Playhouse Square theaters which had been abandoned and were on the brink of being torn down until civic-minded people and a local government got angry and said this cannot happen.

It took years, but the Playhouse Square theaters were painstakingly refurbished, remodeled and given a rebirth to the national prominence they now have.

As we did with Playhouse Square and other parts of downtown, this city has to continue to tackle the neighborhoods plagued by blocks and blocks of abandoned and falling-down properties. In Cleveland, there has been noticeable movement, but more movement is needed. Money has to come from somewhere to fix the problem. Government leaders like Mayor Jackson, the city council, the county council and others realize that. They must continue to push to tear down the dilapidated and plant new business and residential growth in Cleveland soil. This is part of the city's and the region's unfinished business agenda.