Cleveland’s brand new Public Square is now open. Central to the square’s design are four lanes of roadway, running through its center, cutting the square in half. This bus line is a continuation of Superior Avenue and includes five bus stops and their associated bus-stop shelters. RTA has created a $50 million bus station, albeit a nice one. Not what you were expecting? How did we get here? The new design is the brainchild of Jeremy Paris and his Group Plan Commission and Joe Calabrese of RTA, supported by Land Studio and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.
Many were expecting a Public Square for the ages, a nationally acclaimed, unified, central square. Is there a public square anywhere in the world divided by a bus line? Not in the smallest of villages, not in the poorest of countries. Another peculiar feature is a newly erected building, ostensibly for a restaurant, that takes up a good portion of the square in the southwest corner.
Now there was a time in Cleveland’s history in which the square was not so divided. In fact, there was a statue in the center of the square. The statue was that of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the victorious commander at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. Known as much for his victory, as the phrase “Don’t Give Up the Ship” and his uncompromising words “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”
So here is the solution. Why not bring the Commodore back? Put him right back where he belongs, where he is most comfortable, right back in the center of Public Square. This act alone would create a nod to the past, a central meeting place and a unified public square. Cities throughout the world have buses that go AROUND their public squares, not through them. The current design can only be described as a severe compromise, a mistake to be rectified.
An online petition “Bring the Commodore Back” has been started at SavePublicSquare.
This is your park and your vote. Let Land Studio and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance know just how you feel simply by liking or following the page. They got a little political on this one; giving in to the demands of the RTA, over those of the people. A problem easily corrected. The solution is clear. Bring the Commodore back!
Dr. Donald C. Shingler is a social entrepreneur/civic activist, executive director of the nonprofit Cleveland Retail Commission and CEO of Fashion Week Cleveland. Dr. Shingler graduated from the School of Dental Medicine at Case Western Reserve University and received his BS in biology and psychology from the Ohio State University. He owns the cosmetic dental practice Smile Art Center of La Place, located in Beachwood, Ohio. He is a reservist in the U.S. Air Force. Major Shingler is attached to the 910th Medical Squadron at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station. For nearly 20 years, Dr. Shingler has resided in downtown Cleveland.