Apr 26, 2023 - Politics

Bibb, City Council split on West Side Market spending

Mayor Justin Bibb and Councilman Kerry McCormack, at a press event outside the West Side Market

Mayor Justin Bibb and councilman Kerry McCormack outside the West Side Market in 2021. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

Mayor Justin Bibb has proposed spending $15 million from the city's final tranche of American Rescue Plan Act dollars on long-needed infrastructure improvements at Cleveland's West Side Market.

  • The proposed spending plan would also transform the Market's current produce arcade into a prepared-food hall.

Why it matters: The West Side Market is a historic Cleveland landmark, but a number of City Council members have balked at the proposed price tag, arguing that projects in their communities are being overlooked to fund a favored site in a destination neighborhood.

What they're saying: "The West Side Market is not just an amazing asset for the Ohio City neighborhood," Bibb told reporters after last week's State of the City address.

  • "It's an amazing citywide asset and regional asset that brings thousands of tourists and tons of economic investment to Cleveland."

Between the lines: The market transitioned to nonprofit management this year and can now raise philanthropic dollars to finance upgrades and repairs.

  • Yes, but: The city still owns the facility, and Bibb said Cleveland was "on the hook" for long-neglected capital issues.

The big picture: As council president Blaine Griffin and his colleagues criticized Bibb's spending plan at a meeting last week, Ohio City councilman Kerry McCormack cautioned against a fiefdom mentality.

  • "The best way to sink our city is pitting neighborhood versus neighborhood," he said.
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