Mark Naymik probably wasn't the only person wondering why Frank Jackson hadn't been talking about his pet-project, a $2.4-million dirt bike park, during the mayoral campaign recently, and thankfully for the rest of us he did hounded Jackson until he got a response.
Earlier this week Naymik chronicled the frustrating but common experience
of reporters who have sought answers and comments from the mayor's campaign office. Queries were directed from that office to City Hall and, since they were framed as questions from Candidate Jackson not Mayor Jackson, shipped back to the campaign office, and then back to City Hall where comment from city councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland, who sponsored the legislation, was offered. Which is not at all what Naymik was after, and he wrote as much.
The project, which was shepherded through a city council vote by Jackson's allies, has drawn widespread criticism, especially in Slavic Village
, home to Marion Motley Park and the proposed site of the park.
Action Jackson finally responded after the public lambasting, and his interview at least partly explains his silence and brought some news. Citing noise, congestion and insurance issues, Jackson told Cleveland.com that the city has officially scrapped plans for the park at E. 72nd and Carson Ave
. Officials will seek another, larger site and possibly explore offering the Muni Lot as a venue to dirt bike event organizers.
Relatedly, environmental studies conducted Marion Motley Park by the city showed elevated contaminants including lead that forced the city to close it off to all activity. Remediation, coming in at about $1.1 million, will still be done on the land despite the fact the park won't be built there. The money will come from Cleveland's capital fund.
Zack Reed, Jackson's opponent in the November general mayoral election and a vocal critic of the plan during council deliberations, yesterday told WOIO
, "We have the funding in place to clean it up, let's clean it up, come back to the community and have a conversation about what do they want. Because they clearly do not want a dirt bike track.”
Also worth noting that the story, published yesterday, had quotes from Darnell Brown, the city's Chief Operating Officer, saying they didn't consider moving the park from the site because of the study and that construction would start in 30 to 45 days.
Maybe he should have checked with his boss first.