Thursday, June 3, 2010

Urban Outfitter: my profile of Ann Zoller

Ann Zoller, executive director of ParkWorks, has taken her nonprofit far beyond trees and flowers. She believes creating exciting public spaces is not just about carefree recreation — it’s a key to making Cleveland a place more people want to live. She wants to guide downtown’s landmark public spaces from the dull, gray present to a spring-like rebirth.

Zoller, more than anyone else, is responsible for this summer's rebuilding of Perk Plaza, site of a shocking 2009 murder, as a safer, more welcoming park. She’s also helping the Medical Mart developer redesign the century-old downtown malls. Even more ambitious, ParkWorks and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance want to radically remake Public Square into a destination as inspiring as the best urban parks in the country, possibly even by building a giant hill right over Superior Avenue and Ontario Street.

That’s why I profiled Zoller in “Urban Outfitter,” my feature in the June issue of Cleveland Magazine.

Zoller's political savvy helps her get things done. The former Mike White aide enjoys a solid partnership with the Jackson Administration (though that doesn't necessarily mean the mayor will fund a radically remade Public Square). And she's emerging as a key ally of influential younger politicians, such as Joe Cimperman and Chris Ronayne, who are trying to put their optimistic stamp on the city.

“For some people, a plan is the world,” says Cimperman. “They just love to plan. For Ann, the plan is just a means of getting something done.”

(To read my profile of Zoller, click here. You can link to it with this shortcut:

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