MANSFIELD: Saving Hough: Skin in the Game


On Tuesday evening, March 21, there will be a meeting at Fatima Family Center on East 66th and Lexington at 6pm that will be critical in regards to jumpstarting the redevelopment of the League Park District in Hough. All interested parties — even those who don’t live in the area or even the ward — should plan on attending. We’ll need all of the support we can get.

Here’s the deal:

Two years before the beautifully renovated League Park opened in August of 2014, a master plan  for the redevelopment of the League Park District was completed. A cross section of neighborhood residents, stakeholders, planners, architects and city officials’ names grace the pages of the document … even the name of Councilman TJ Dow, who now moves to block implementation of the plan after signing off on it.

I know the question that immediately springs to mind is “Why?” Why is Dow obstructing progress? If you run into him see if you can find out why and please let me know.

Five years since its release the plan still sits gathering dust. Development in the area has come to a complete halt in most of the ward, and now that efforts are finally underway to try to take a small step towards completing Fannie Lewis’s dream, Dow is standing in the way of progress.

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The Baseball Heritage Museum occupies the southwest corner of the League Park complex and it’s full to overflowing with memorabilia associated with “America’s Pastime.” The director of the museum, Bob Zimmer, has used a considerable amount of his own money to make the entire facility a first-rate tourist destination. In other words, he has real skin in the game.

Now he wants to initiate educational seminars on baseball in the second floor space above the museum to attract more visitors, but to do so he needs a variance from the City of Cleveland. The rules require him to have parking spaces for 15 cars, but he only has enough room to park 13. The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) was all set to grant the variance but Dow showed up at the meeting with one lone resident who is opposed to any kind of commercial progress … in spite of the plan that’s been in place for five years calling for the development of the area.

Supposedly the woman only wants homes built in the area, which leads me to question, “Why did she build her home in an area that was zoned for commercial development if she only wants to be surrounded by single-family homes?” But in a democracy the majority rules, no matter how the elected official feels about it.

I’ve got a vital interest — skin in the game — also since our vineyard and BioCellar sits a few short blocks directly south of League Park on 66th Street, and Dow has, on more than one occasion, attempted to put us out of business too. Again, don’t ask me why; ask him.

The BZA always seeks input from neighborhood residents before rendering a decision on any request for a variance, and that’s why the March 21st meeting is critical. Dow has a habit of packing these kinds of meetings with people who are loyal to him but sometimes not only don’t live in Hough or Ward 7, some of them don’t even live in the city. I’m not kidding.

Dow is somehow connected to this group of angry, noisy blacks that go from meeting to meeting around the city being a disruptive force. He invites them to show up in Hough and register their displeasure … in spite of the fact they are not residents or stakeholders. He then shouts residents down and runs the meeting like he’s a tinhorn dictator. He’s been getting away with this for the last four or five years … but those tactics are about to come to an end. And they will come to an end on the evening of March 21st.


From Cool Cleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at




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