University Heights City Council meeting highlights 3-3-14

MARCH 3, 2014

  • Memorial Day parade
  • Zoning and planning updates
  • New fire chief
  • JCU plaza renovation
  • JCU access drive proposal
  • Transfer of funds
  • Vehicle purchase
  • Tree planting
  • False alarms

All council members were present.

Memorial Day parade

The parade committee is forming now to plan the city’s 48th annual Memorial Day parade.

Zoning and planning updates

David Hartt, consultant, will be presenting proposed updates to the city’s zoning and planning code on March 25 at 7 p.m. in the conference room above the Dolan Science Center at John Carroll University (JCU).

New fire chief

Douglas Zook, the new fire chief, was sworn in. He had worked for 25 years previously at East Cleveland, Fairlawn and Chippewa Township, and has also served on his local school board.

JCU plaza renovation

Representatives of JCU requested council’s approval of the planning commission’s recommendation to renovate the university’s St. Ignatius of Loyola Plaza. The plan is to add a small pool and seating area at the existing statue of St. Ignatius, to better unify the main quad. Construction should be completed by Aug. 20.

JCU access drive proposal

JCU also sought approval of the planning commission’s recommendation to convert a construction drive off of Washington Boulevard into a permanent emergency access drive. During the public comment portion of the meeting, two residents spoke against this proposal, citing heavy traffic from the proximity of a five-point intersection and Gesu Elementary School, and the improper use of other emergency access drives, which they claim tend to be heavily used for nonemergency purposes.

The university representative said that currently there is no access to campus from the north side, and emergency vehicles entering from the main front drive have to maneuver tight turns to access the Murphy Hall area. As at the other emergency entrances, there would be a gate, placed three feet back from the sidewalk (which is approximately 20 feet back from the road). The gate would be locked, accessible only to the University Heights police and fire departments. The police chief reported that no traffic complaints have resulted from the five-point intersection near the proposed drive, and that the addition of this drive would greatly improve access to the campus.

Councilman Phillip Ertel noted that he lives near another emergency entrance and that there are always cars parked in that driveway apron. A motion to table this decision, pending suggestions from JCU for addressing these safety concerns, was approved, with Councilwoman Pamela Cameron voting no.

Transfer of funds

Council heard a first reading of legislation to transfer $25,000 from the General Fund to the Street Lighting Fund for 2014 funding, to transfer funds from the General Fund to the Capital Fund to pay for the purchase of two vehicles, and to transfer monies out of the Community Development Block Grant Fund and the Sick Leave Benefits Fund back to the General Fund, in order to close out the two funds that are no longer needed.

Vehicle purchase

Council approved the purchase of two new vehicles for the police department, to replace two vehicles that have more than 150,000 miles on them (the equivalent of 300,000 miles when idling time is factored in). Each vehicle has required significant time out of service for repairs. The city will purchase two Ford Interceptors through the state contract program. Each car costs $22,977 partially equipped, plus an additional $3,596 for required options. The cost of these vehicles was included in the budget for 2014.

Tree planting

Council approved seeking 2014 tree planting bids, signaling the start of the 2014 tree program. The city will plant 203 trees, primarily on the northeast and east side of town. The options this year will include pear and pagoda trees that have small white flowers. Most of these 200 trees will replace trees that have been removed.

False alarms

Fire Chief Zook noted that University Heights had 392 alarms reported in 2013, only one of which was real. The city has begun issuing warnings for false alarms, and if an address reports three false alarms over a six-month period, [owners] will be cited with a minor misdemeanor charge and a fine. The two most frequent offenders in the city now use private response companies to respond to their alarms.

LWV Observer: Wendy Deuring.

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 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 7, Issue 4, Posted 12:27 PM, 03.18.2014