Freddy Collier city’s first Black planning director
James W. Wade III | 7/23/2014, 10:35 a.m.
Freddy L. Collier Jr. has just been crowned the new director of planning for the City of Cleveland. He was sworn in last week by Mayor Frank Jackson in a ceremony in City Hall’s Red Room. Collier succeeds Robert Brown, who stepped down in May after nine years on the post.
“He’s extraordinarily passionate about city planning; particularly the effect planning can have on the health and quality of life of city residents. That’s really his passion,” said Brown. Collier, a Cleveland native who has worked in the planning department for 15 years, has always had a flair for style.
Collier grew up in the Buckeye area of Cleveland and is a graduate of Benedictine High School. In his high school years, Collier was inspired by former Cleveland Mayor Mike White who came and spoke to his school. “After hearing Mayor White, I knew then I wanted to work for the city of Cleveland,” said Collier.
While attending Cleveland State as a freshman, Collier began to take an interest in city planning. But during this time he worked for Fifth Third Bank as a branch manager. Collier earned his bachelor’s degree from Cleveland State in urban studies in 1997 and decided to join Cleveland’s planning department in ‘99. He obtained a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Phoenix in 2011.
In a phone interview, Collier expressed his concern and passion for Cleveland. “I think being the first African-American male in this position is very positive. As Cleveland grows I want to make sure all residents in the city understand I take this job very seriously,” said Collier.
Collier expressed his concern about the community and realized he seen a few of his friends become victims in these same neighborhoods where he walked and lived. “I wanted to give back to my city, I wanted to make a difference and not become like some of my friends,” said Collier.
When he came to the city he worked hard. And with his flair for dressing he stood out in a very positive way. When you see Collier normally he has that big smile on his face because he likes what he does.
Chris Ronayne, president of University Circle Inc., and the city’s former planning director from 2002 to 2005, praised Collier as a conscientious, detail-oriented and organized professional. Collier plans to help Cleveland emerge with greatness working on everything from the Lakefront Project to making communities be vibrant he shared.
“I want everyone to know downtown is a community; just because it’s our Mecca, it’s still a neighborhood,” said Collier. He has been working hard on the Connecting Cleveland 2020 citywide plan.
In crafting and presenting its vision, the Connecting Cleveland 2020 citywide plan organizes the city around clusters of neighborhoods, rather than wards, as was the case with the plan’s predecessor, Civic Vision 2000. This neighborhood-based structure allows the plan to focus holistically on each city neighborhood as a building block of the larger plan. In order to consider the interaction between neighborhoods, the plan then groups 36 Cleveland neighborhoods (also known as statistical planning areas) into six “districts,” which closely correspond to the city’s six police districts (through 2006) and community relations districts.
Connecting Cleveland 2020 devotes a separate chapter to each of these six planning districts. Within each district chapter, the plan draws a portrait of each of the district’s neighborhoods, identifying the assets and opportunities that characterize that neighborhood. Challenges and recommendations for each are also delineated. Issues that transcend neighborhood boundaries will be discussed at the district level.
“I will make sure Cleveland rises to the top when it comes to me doing my job. Just like my Mayor Frank G. Jackson shares all the time, ‘Equitable, healthy and sustainable communities’ will be the focus going forward,” said Collier.