Citizens of Slavic Village (slogan: “Can We Bum a Smoke?”) warm quickly to rumors of economic development.
But the hottest plan — - no, wait— quite possibly the only plan — currently afloat for the downtrodden neighborhood relies on the promise of a fringe sport catching fire amid the fallow fields.
Brett Davis is president of Fast Track Cycling, a group dedicated to building an indoor velodrome (translation: bicycle track) in Cleveland. He hopes to receive federal stimulus money to build on the former site of St. Michael’s Hospital.
The idea, says Davis, is the byproduct of Cleveland winters not being particularly friendly to cyclists. “Initially it was a group of guys sitting around inside in the winter, thinking, Wouldn’t it be great to have a place to ride bikes indoors?”
According to Davis’s description, it’s not a structure likely to garner the attention of Architectural Digest: He envisions a wooden track covered by an inflatable roof, plus adjacent soccer fields to double the marginal-sport score. If built, it would be only the third track of its kind in the country.
To pull it off, Fast Track is seeking a chunk of the state’s $119 million share of federal-stimulus bonds, which must be repaid by those who receive them. Davis expects to have an answer from the feds by the end of the month, but he plans to move forward regardless of stimulus support. — Michael Gill
Does the project have legs? “Well, it’s got a lot of wheels,” says Councilman Tony Brancatelli.