University Heights City Council meeting highlights 4-8-13
APRIL 8, 2013
- Fuchs Mizrachi School
- Bid requirements
- Spring cleanup
- Holocaust Remembrance Week
- Public Internet auctions
- Power Load System
- Overnight parking
- Texting while driving
- Sweepstakes Terminal Cafes
- Costs for civil cases
- Tree trimming
All council members were present.
Fuchs Mizrachi School
During the public comment portion of the meeting two residents expressed concern about the expense of razing the former Fuch Mizrachi school building and converting the property into a park with no tax-generating potential. They suggested using the funds for things like paving streets, saving a portion of the building for community use, or dividing the lot and building new homes on a portion of the property. One person felt strongly that this was not the right time for the city to take on an additional cost when the economy is still not doing well and payments from state and federal governments are declining.
Later in the meeting, council accepted the bid by Lower Cork Company for the demolition of the Fuchs Mizrachi building at a cost not to exceed $201,271. They did not approve the demolition, only the bid, which is good for six months. The service director and building commissioner noted that the school has been empty for several years with the utilities turned off. There is water damage and asbestos throughout the building. Renovations would require numerous revisions to bring the building up to code and comply with ADA regulations. It would be less expensive to tear down the school and build what is appropriate for the need. Two ordinances will be presented at the next council meeting to demolish the school and to hire Lower Cork to do the work. Councilman Steven Sims stated that the park should raise home values in the surrounding neighborhood, and that the city now owns the property and must do something before it becomes a hazard. Vice Mayor Frankie Goldberg noted that there’s much excitement in the community about the potential of the park. Mayor Infeld stated that street and other repairs are ongoing needs, but the park is an opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up.
Mr. Hubman of Creekside Landscaping, speaking during the public comment portion of the meeting, expressed concern that the company that won the tree-planting bid had not submitted the required bid bond with their bid. Previously the lowest bid had been excluded if the paperwork was incomplete, and he wanted to know why that did not occur this time. Service Director Jeffrey Pokorny explained it was an administrative oversight. The contractor was asked at the time about the missing bond and provided the necessary paperwork by 4 p.m. that afternoon. Several council members expressed concern that the missing form had not caused the bid to be set aside. The requirement was clearly stated in the request for bids and is usually strictly enforced. Hubman noted that there is a dollar cost for obtaining a bid bond, and that it was more than an administrative oversight. He also explained that he knew about the missing paperwork because he was present when the bids were opened. Later in the meeting, and following extensive discussion, council emphasized the need to follow bid rules and awarded the tree-planting contract to Creekside Landscaping, which was the second lowest bid and had complied with the requirements. The bid from Aaron Landscaping was set aside as not being the best bid. Councilman Sims abstained due to a personal relationship with one of the contractors, and Councilwoman Pamela Cameron voted no. Except for council members Sims and Cameron, council awarded the contract to Creekside at the cost of $22,124, approximately $700 more than the bid from Aaron.
Mayor Infeld noted that April is spring cleanup month so service trucks would be going around picking up piles of leaves and other yard debris. Beginning in May all yard waste must be bagged.
Holocaust Remembrance Week
Council approved the week of April 7 as Holocaust Remembrance Week. Council members read the proclamation honoring all who died from persecution during the Holocaust.
Public Internet auctions
A resolution, presented on first reading, would authorize the sale, through public Internet auctions and for the year 2013, of city-owned goods such as motor vehicles acquired for the use of municipal officers and departments, road machinery equipment, and supplies. This is equipment that is not needed for public use or is obsolete or unfit for the use for which they were acquired. The city has been using the website GovDeals.com, a public auction site. This authorization needs to be approved annually. The city posts items monthly, on average, and designates its own bid terms.
Power Load System
Council authorized application to the Bureau of Workers Compensation for grant funding to buy a Power Load System, which is a new type of “cot” for ambulances and which includes multiple electronic functions. The funding is uncertain and these cots are considerably heavier than the current cots, but Mayor Infeld felt it was worthwhile to see if the grant funding could be secured.
An ordinance prohibiting overnight parking was presented on first reading. Currently cars must be ticketed if they are parked on the street between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. for more than 30 minutes. Police officers spend time noting when cars are parked and then returning to see if they are still there 30 minutes later. Since the public is not aware of the 30-minute allowance and it is only an issue for the officers, the police chief requested removal of the provision. Neighboring communities do not have this 30-minute provision.
Texting while driving
Council heard a first reading to amend an ordinance passed last year to prohibit the use of electronic wireless communication devices for text-based communication. Texting while driving would become a primary offense, meaning that someone can be pulled over for texting while driving. The fine for the first offense would be $100, the second offense $250, and the third and subsequent offenses up to $500. There would be a 60-day warning period after the legislation is passed. The offenses are cumulative across Ohio, not only within University Heights.
Sweepstakes Terminal Cafes
Council approved the reestablishment of the temporary moratorium against opening Sweepstakes Terminal Cafes within University Heights. Council has been approving these temporary prohibitions annually while waiting for the state legislature to take official action regarding the legality of these cafes. Law Director Anthony Coyne noted that council could pass legislation prohibiting the cafes permanently, or continue to impose temporary moratoriums.
Costs for civil cases
Coyne announced that the county executive has requested the county prosecutor to examine how local courts are recovering their costs for civil cases due to a wide variation from court to court on how this is done.
Service Director Pokorny reported that the two previous tree-trimming contracts for 2012 are now complete. Tree trimming will be done in the northeast portion of University Heights in 2013.
LWV Observer: Wendy Deuring.
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