University Heights City Council meeting highlights

JANUARY 3, 2017

  • Public comments
  • Synagogue sponsors food drive
  • Candlelight vigil at JCU
  • Cuyahoga Land Bank to acquire 3505 Tullamore
  • Heights-Hillcrest technical rescue team
  • Home address signs
  • Engineering services rate increase
  • Pension contribution for union employees

Mayor Susan Infeld and council members Susan Pardee (vice mayor), Pamela Cameron, Phillip Ertel, John Rach, Steven Sims, Michele Weiss and Mark Wiseman were present. Also present were Luke McConnell, law director, and Kelly Thomas, clerk of council.

The meeting was held from 7:05 to 9:10 p.m.

Public comments

Raccoon infestation at 3505 Tullamore Road: Kevin Case, a resident of Tullamore Road, asked council to address the racoon infestation at 3505 Tullamore, a crumbling property that has been abandoned for several years. He noted that three to four racoons are living on the property. Mayor Infeld promised to send animal control to the property, and said she would ask animal control to contact Case directly.

Synagogue co-sponsors food drive

Beth El - the Heights Synagogue is co-sponsoring a food drive with the Cleveland Hunger Network and Cleveland Heights’ Boulevard Neighbors in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Residents can drop off canned and boxed goods between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15, at the synagogue’s main entrance at 3246 Desota Ave. in Cleveland Heights.

Candlelight vigil at JCU

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. To raise awareness, John Carroll University (JCU) and the Renee Jones Empowerment Center are co-sponsoring a candlelight vigil, to be held at the Saint Francis Chapel on Thursday, Jan. 26, 7–8:30 p.m. Several local colleges and high schools, as well as the Church of the Gesu, will participate. Residents can call 216-397-4698 for more information.

Cuyahoga Land Bank to acquire 3505 Tullamore

Law Director Luke McConnell reported that the Cuyahoga Land Bank has issued a decree of foreclosure for 3505 Tullamore Road, and expects to acquire the title by late January/early February. The land bank will then decide to demolish or rehab the property. Councilman Sims supports rehabbing the property, but several council members said it was beyond repair. McConnell said that if the property is demolished, demolition would be in mid- to late-March. He wasn’t given a time frame for a rehab. Mayor Infeld said the advantage of having the land bank rehab the property is that not only do they fix it, they also market it until it’s sold. Vice Mayor Pardee expressed concern that the land bank hasn’t provided a firm estimate for demolition or rehab, and suggested the city might be able to act more quickly. McConnell said the city has submitted 10 bids for demolition of the property, but only one had been returned, at $28,383. The vice mayor had submitted a motion to use city money, not to exceed $14,900, at the previous council meeting. He said that if the city decides to demolish the property, it will start the demolition/rehab process from scratch, further delaying action. The mayor assured council that the land bank has the expertise needed to address the property, which Councilman Ertel has called a cancer in the neighborhood.

Heights-Hillcrest technical rescue team

Fire Chief Douglas Zook requested a motion to authorize an agreement for the Heights-Hillcrest technical rescue teams. The agreement would allow the Heights team to benefit from Hillcrest’s expertise in special rescue and hazardous materials response. The current team has been funded on a pro-rated basis, $2,820 in 2016, which would increase to $6,000 (not including personnel costs of $9,000) by 2022 under the new agreement. Zook noted that the there is a 90-day out clause. Several council members asked that the motion be presented on second reading at the next meeting, with more specifics about fees and training costs, along with advantages and disadvantages of the program. 

Home address signs

Building Commissioner Lawrence Brown presented an update on city ordinances regarding the size and visibility of home address signs. Brown said that residents could receive a penalty for not having numbers on their homes and/or for [having] numbers that are not the appropriate size. The penalty is a fee of $500 and a possible prison sentence if owners don’t comply. Councilwoman Weiss expressed concerns about the penalty, and Councilman Wiseman stressed that the city can determine how to best enforce the ordinance without enacting draconian penalties. Wiseman has scheduled a meeting with Brown, and the ordinance will be presented on second reading.

Engineering services rate increase

Council approved a motion accepting a cost-of-living increase of 2.2 percent for engineering services provided by City Engineer Joe Ciuni and the GPD Group.

Pension contribution for union employees

Council approved a union employee’s request to change his pension plan contribution. The city will pay the employee the same amount, but a portion will go into his pension fund on a pre-tax basis. Police Chief Steve Hammett explained that any bargaining unit member who has accumulated time in another pension plan can put that time back into his or her pension on a pre-tax basis.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m.

LWV Observer: Siobhan Leftwich.

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

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Volume 10, Issue 2, Posted 11:30 AM, 01.14.2017