University Heights City Council town hall meeting highlights 6-17-2014

JUNE 17, 2014

All council members were present.

Park at Fuchs Mizrachi

Mayor Susan Infeld opened the meeting with a discussion of the resolution to develop a park at the site of the former Fuchs Mizrachi school. The proposed bond issue to fund the park would cost $1.8 million. Throughout the last two-and-a-half years, the city has held meetings to discuss the acquisition of the land and demolition of the building. Through three meetings with residents and the architect Braun & Steidl, the architect developed a plan as step one of the development phase. Step two would be placing a bond issue on the ballot for residents to vote on. If a bond issue were approved, requests for proposals would be solicited from architects. The bond issue would dovetail with the December expiration of the 20-year pool bond issue, for which residents pay $25 per $100,000 housing value. Consequently, passage of the new bond would not cause an increase in taxes. Furthermore, the new bond issue would expire in 15 years, instead of 20.

The mayor spoke in favor of the park. Of 59 communities in Cuyahoga County, University Heights is the only one without a community park. Research indicates that community parks increase property values of nearby homes. The initial park concept includes a walking path, playground, restroom, buffer for homes and pavilions.

The mayor said the property was bought for $600,000 with a three-year payment plan, which has been completed. The building was demolished for $230,000. The mayor then read supportive e-mails from residents who could not attend the meeting.

About 50 residents were in attendance. Some asked questions concerning other options, such as senior living or condos. Others expressed support. Some older members of the audience who live in condos or apartments and do not own computers said they do not receive the community newsletters or e-mails.

An architect from Braun & Steidl discussed proposed details for the park. Residents’ desire for a park that can hold community events and be child-friendly led to the concept of walking paths, a playground, and a field for gatherings or sports activities.

Responding to other questions from residents, the mayor noted that:

  • Current city employees would maintain the park and all vegetation would be self-sustaining.
  • Other city-owned recreation facilities, such as the tennis courts, have already had capital improvements, been repaired, or funds have been set aside for repairs.
  • If the bond doesn’t pass, the mayor and council would start from scratch with ideas.
  • No developers have approached the city for the land.

One person suggested reducing the expense by having only green space.

Councilman Steven Sims noted that council urged holding the town hall meeting now because it had only recently become aware of the significant cost and felt it was appropriate for residents to voice their opinions.

LWV Observer: Michele Weiss.

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 of Greater Cleveland. This disclaimer must accompany any redistribution of these reports.

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Volume 7, Issue 8, Posted 5:53 PM, 07.31.2014