Will a new city hall parking lot help our city?

Will greening city hall’s parking lot attract new residents or help our businesses?

According to a Sun News article published on Cleveland.com on Oct. 6, Mayor Ed Kelley plans to spend $250,000 of the city’s money to “retrofit” the city hall parking lot to make it “greener.”

At the Sept. 19 meeting of the Cleveland Heights City Council, council members unanimously passed a resolution to pay Behnke Associates $4,850 plus expenses to develop this plan. The resolution was passed as “an emergency.” (Passing legislation as an emergency reduces citizen input and prohibits citizens being able to use a referendum. Please consider asking council not to pass such large ticket items as emergencies.)

Using $250,000 in tax dollars is only part of the project. Council also hopes to raise additional funds from grants to add trees and plants to the parking lot. Sources of possible additional funds include Ohio EPA and Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District Small-Scale Demonstration Grants.

Spending $250,000 of city money to retrofit a parking lot did not sound like a good idea to me. But I thought maybe the parking lot was in really bad shape and needed to be replaced anyway. So I drove over to city hall and drove around the parking lot to see for myself. It seemed fine to me. It’s not in perfect condition, it has a few holes that should be patched. But it is not a road. It’s a parking lot.

Most of us are in the same boat. We have friends and family unemployed or underemployed, our property values have declined dramatically but our property tax rates are increasing. We can anticipate further property tax increases to pay for the CH-UH City School District facilities master plan; a bond issue is in the works for the November 2013 ballot.

By all means, let’s spruce up the city and make it greener. But let’s do it in a way that will make our city appealing to residents and businesses and help our economy. There are many places around town that need better stormwater management, but plantings and pocket wetlands should be built in places that will help connect neighborhoods and business districts, or make biking and walking to University Circle a safer and more pleasant experience.

Please drive through the city hall parking lot and judge for yourself whether this $250,000 expenditure is worthwhile. Some proposals and plans are complicated; this one is not. You can trust your own judgment on this issue.

If you agree that city council members should use $250,000 of our tax dollars, not on a parking lot, but to do something that will help people and our economy and our city’s future, please contact them and let them know how you feel.

Fran Mentch

Fran Mentch is a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 5, Issue 11, Posted 11:51 AM, 10.31.2012