University Heights City Council meeting highlights [9-6-11]

SEPTEMBER 6, 2011

  • Dog attack
  • McDonald’s
  • 9/11 Commemoration
  • John Carroll University 125th anniversary
  • PBS documentary
  • New police chief
  • Police and fire fighter contracts
  • John Carroll University’s stadium
  • Special assessment for 2012
  • Assessments levied
  • Assessment for nuisance removal
  • Police technology support
  • Tree Improvement Fund
  • Bank depositories
  • Tax levies
  • Solid waste transfer and disposal

Council member Frank Consolo was absent.

Dog attack

Gerald Harris of Washington Road complained about a lack of response from the city dating back to March 2011 when his dog was attacked by a neighbor’s dog. The same dog subsequently attacked another resident. Harris also reported that business vehicles are consistently parked at the dog owner’s property, and a moving van operates from a nearby house. He also reported that a vacant house on Raymont was poorly maintained. Mayor Infeld said she would convene a meeting the next day with the chief of police and other officials to respond to these complaints.

McDonald’s

Demolition of the buildings on the new McDonald’s site will begin this month and is expected to take two weeks.

9/11 Commemoration

A 9/11 commemoration and concert was held at Wiley Middle School on Sunday, September 11.

John Carroll University 125th anniversary

Events will be held throughout the year in celebration of the school’s 125th anniversary.

PBS documentary

PBS will air a documentary, “Suburbs: Problems and Promise”, which features segments on Hudson, Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, and Parma Heights.

New police chief

Steven Hammett, former deputy chief in Shaker Heights, was sworn in as the new University Heights police chief. Many well-wishers from Shaker Heights were in the audience.

Police and fire fighter contracts

Council authorized contracts between the city and the Ohio Patrolmen’s Association (Dispatchers) and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 974. The contract with the latter imposes a three-year wage freeze, with wages open to negotiation in year three.

John Carroll University’s stadium

The planning commission reviewed council’s Sept. 23, 2002 approval of the use of John Carroll University’s (JCU) Don Shula Stadium. The commission recommended the following changes: extending use of stadium lights for varsity sports, club sports and intramurals to 10:30 p.m. seven days a week; a 75-foot candle lighting and the sound system would be allowed for varsity sports and non-JCU athletic events until 10:30 p.m., with advance notice to the city; for club sports, practices and intramurals, the public address system would not be allowed, and a maximum use of 30-foot light candles is recommended. Council approved these recommendations on Aug. 25 with a 4 to 1 vote, but asked the city engineer to determine whether the university had complied with the original specifications set when the stadium opened in 2002.

Dora Pruce, JCU’s director of government and community relations, referred to the assessment conducted by Paul Turner, an electrical engineer engaged by City Engineer Joe Ciuni. She stated that sound will be directed at the field rather than the stands, and reiterated JCU’s original request for an extension to 11 p.m.

Turner reported that “spillover” light is at or below the lighting standards set in 2002, due largely to tree growth. From the sidewalk, field lights made a negligible contribution to light levels compared to streetlights. The goal in 2002 was to make spillover at the property line as close to zero as possible. Upon questioning, he acknowledged that this assessment’s difference from the 2002 measurement could be up to 20 percent.

Councilmen Murphy and Bullock asked if new technology or equipment exists that would result in less spillover. Turner said Musco, the lighting equipment provider, offers pretty much the current set-up. He suggested that changes would not make much difference and would be expensive. Turner said that no direct lighting from the stadium enters homes, and light perception within homes can be both subjective and dependent on variables such as placement and height of windows.

Councilman Bullock said that, while people who choose to live near a college campus should expect to be affected by campus events, the college should also expect to be affected by the needs of residents. Councilman Sims suggested that if there is currently no measurement standard for this, perhaps the city should establish one.

Since JCU has made six presentations, Mayor Infeld suggested that if council chooses not to vote tonight, they must be very specific about what they still need to know.

Councilwoman Goldberg pointed out that in December 2008, JCU’s request was for five separate events until 11 p.m. Since then their needs have increased to “unlimited flexibility.”

Councilman Murphy said he would like to hear from a “lighting expert,” but Mayor Infeld noted that Musco Lighting is a stadium lighting expert, and Paladin Professional Sound is a leader in their field. Council had included conditions in the 2002 agreement that these vendors (which JCU had recommended) would be used.

Mayor Infeld asked Police Chief Hammett to present statistics regarding relevant complaints since 2008. The police received one noise complaint in 2008, four in 2009, and two in 2010. For parking complaints there were six in 2008, eight in 2009, and twenty in 2010. Council members countered by stating these numbers do not include complaints made directly to JCU.

A number of residents in the audience voiced their concerns and complaints largely directed at the sound level and light glare. Several questioned whether the large number of of varsity and non-varsity uses were reasonable in a residential neighborhood and if the university suffered penalties when lighting time limits were exceeded. One resident claimed to have 100 signatures of residents asking that the planning commission’s recommendations be rejected

Councilman Murphy moved that the issue be tabled, and that council hear from representatives of the lighting and sound equipment providers at the next meeting, centering on whether the current system is the best, and what would be the cost ramifications for JCU to make changes.

Ms Maria Alfaro-Lopez, JCU’s general counsel, expressed frustration that no action would be taken on a request that was submitted in May. She noted that the university could have demanded unlimited use of campus facilities, as other comparative universities enjoy, but they limited their request to be sensitive to community needs. Mayor Infeld noted that JCU is the city’s largest employer and business.

Council passed 4 to 2 the motion to postpone and arrange for presentations.

Special assessment for 2012

Council approved, on emergency, the partial abatement and collection of the balance of the special assessment for the year 2012 on certain parcels at University Square. The special assessment is for $209,000, to meet the debt service on four of developer Inland’s parcels. Argus, the administrator for the Port Authority, issued bonds for the development, but can’t meet the debt service on the bonds because reduced property values have affected real estate tax collection. The assessment will also pay the Port Authority fee.

Assessments levied

Council approved special assessments for streetlights (at $.70 per front foot) and tree maintenance and a supplementary assessment for sewer funds.

Assessment for nuisance removal

Council approved levying a special assessment for providing city services in the removal of nuisance conditions at various locations in the city, such as grass, trees, and other outdoor maintenance for which residents were cited and did not complete.

Police technology support

Council authorized a 48-month software license agreement with TAC Computer, Inc. for safety system support for the police department and also approved a lease with TAC Computer Inc. for a computer server in the police department. The 36-month lease includes significant cost savings of $700 per month, as the city already owns mobiles, which are not included in the lease.

Tree Improvement Fund

In order to comply with Ohio Revised Code council authorized repayment of funds from the advance originally authorized under a 2004 ordinance regarding the Tree Improvement Fund.

Bank depositories

Council authorized depositories for active funds and renews or creates five-year agreements. The city will accept bids from a number of banks, including some not involved now, to act as depositories. City policy is to “spread the wealth,” but with no requirement to use all who bid. Council also authorized depositories for interim and inactive funds.

Tax levies

Council accepted the amounts and rates determined by the Budget Commission and authorized necessary tax levies.

Solid waste transfer and disposal

Council heard on first reading an ordinance authorizing a contract with the City of Cleveland Heights for Solid Waste Transfer and Disposal Services, which would enable Cuyahoga County to levy property taxes so the city can collect the monies. The contract would be for three years, with options for years four and five. There would be $17,000 savings in transportation costs in year one, plus $2,000 in tipping fees and $10,000 in fuel costs.

LWV observer: Patricia Solomon.

These meeting summaries are abstracted from LWV observers’ written reports. The summaries have been edited and prepared by Anne McFarland, Charlene Morse, and Maryann Barnes. To receive e-mail postings of full reports, send an e-mail to mbarnes9515@gmail.com or join through Google groups using “lwv-chuh observer reports” as a search phrase.

These reports contain member observation and selected highlights of public meetings and are not official statements of the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters Cuyahoga Area. This disclaimer must accompany any redistribution of these reports.

Read More on University Heights
Volume 4, Issue 10, Posted 5:25 PM, 09.25.2011