Cleveland Heights council member reflects on 2020

When I became a Cleveland Heights City Council member, I knew I would face challenges. The city had just decided to change to a elected-mayor form of government. Top of the Hill’s (TOH) financing was before council. Legislation was needed to improve the foreclosure bond. The Waste Management Task Force report would need action. From walking Noble, I have been concerned about housing stock, so I led a team drafting legislation to amend the foreclosure bond.

Within weeks other major issues became urgent. There was systemic racism and police reform; 5G towers; the COVID-19 budget impact; the revenge porn ordinance; and, COVID-19 itself. And then a council member [Melissa Yasinow] resigned [in March 2020], and council faced the task of replacing her.

All of this in the time of COVID-19, when staff time is limited, and council had to deal with business issues such as allowing restaurants and bars to expand into their parking lots, or even into streets for outdoor sales; what to do about staff time; what to do about recreation; how to deliver coronavirus testing; and how to change the budget.

Meantime, I was getting calls for other issues—intervening on a basketball court where play was annoying neighbors; working with a tenant and landlord who were trying to work out a problem; raising issues to the city on a house being rehabbed on Arlington Drive, with many neighbor complaints; working with Buckingham residents on issues related to the TOH project; examining a leaking roof at the city garage, from union complaints; hearing from residents for and against the development of the Millikin school site; talking to citizens on the Lee Road development site issue.

Council must still replace a member; vote on foreclosure bond improvements; establish a committee regarding ending systemic racism in the city, including Police reform; decide what to do regarding solid-waste removal; and prepare for the transition to mayor, the EPA lawsuit settlement, and what improvements will be required for our sewer system.

We still need that change we voted for in the last election. The job of a council member these days takes 20–30 hours a week. But the work is rewarding. Residents want responsiveness and the last election attested to that. It is time to up our game and bring us forward into a new era for Cleveland Heights. I am determined to ensure those changes the residents want occur. Stay tuned and stay engaged.

Melody Joy Hart

Melody Joy Hart is a Cleveland Heights City Council member.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:53 AM, 09.30.2020