Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 1-4-21

JANUARY 4, 2021


  • Public comments
  • City manager’s report
  • Chief of police report
  • City manager
  • 2021 budget
  • Council member comments


Mayor Jason Stein, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, and Michael Unger were present. Davida Russell was absent. Also present were Acting City Manager Susanna O’Neil, Clerk of Council Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting was 46 minutes long.

Public comments

A tenant of an apartment building at Lee and Yorkshire roads requested a lift on the 3 to 6 a.m. on-street parking ban. Her building has six spots and 19 residents, and the building across the street is similar. She was not informed of this before she leased. City lots are blocks away, a potentially dangerous walk when she returns home late. 

A resident asked about the Request for Proposals (RFP) for redevelopment north of Mayfield. She stated that the area seems to be excluded despite being in a Federal Opportunity Zone. Specifically, she is concerned about vacant lots and several other problems.

A resident complained about the need for snow parking bans on residential streets. Cars parked on the street are plowed around, leaving difficult travel conditions. She is also concerned about extra cars parking around houses being used as synagogues. They bring a profusion of extra cars to residential streets during snow conditions.

City manager’s report

Ms. O’Neil said 2021 will be a big year for the city with the transition to an elected mayor. Her office will have compiled a transition book by February, detailing the activity of every department so all can understand the structure, staff, budget, goals, and commitments of each. She has no information yet about COVID immunizations for city residents, but has offered the community center as a site.

At the end of January, the city will issue an annual report from each department. The end of August will bring the 100th anniversary of Cleveland Heights. COVID permitting, there will be a big celebration, complete with a time capsule.

Chief of police report

Police Chief Annette Mecklenberg detailed progress on recent incidents; details are in the January 4 meeting packet.

Since the report was written, it has been determined that one suspect in the Cedar Hill Sunoco carjacking was shot and killed before detectives identified him, and the second suspect has not yet been identified. In the November 28 road rage shooting on Warrensville Center Road, a suspect in custody in another jurisdiction had a gun that matched evidence in this crime.

She added a report of a bicyclist suffering a severe head injury when he swerved into a car, which was trying to avoid him, and hit the pavement. The cyclist was not wearing a helmet.

The department’s work with The Diversity Institute at CSU has been suspended due to COVID cases, but will resume soon. Upon query from a council member, Chief Mecklenberg opined that the training is much more effective in person, so virtual sessions will not be scheduled.

City manager

Council approved Mr. Stein’s motion to change Ms. O’Neil’s designation from acting city manager to city manager in recognition of her service to the city, with no change in salary

2021 budget

Council unanimously approved adjustments to the 2021 budget numbers due to new estimates.

Council member comments

Ms. Dunbar said that the death of cyclist Terry Ryan on Lee Road was a tragedy for him and for the driver. The Heights Bicycle Coalition website will publish a set of recommendations for avoiding main streets for travel safety. She thanked all who care about Cleveland Heights.

Ms. Hart noted that former council member Cheryl Stephens has been elected vice president of Cuyahoga County Council. A public forum on January 20 at 7 p.m. on the mayoral transition will feature speakers from East Providence, RI, which had a similar transition in 2019. They will talk about what they had to consider.

Ms. Russell announced that council is working to get the Racial Justice Task Force running as soon as possible. There were 76 applicants.

Mr. Seren stated this will be a big, exciting year for Cleveland Heights. He said that the signing of the Stand Your Ground bill by Governor DeWine is very bad news for Ohio. He also read a statement about Senate Bill 27, which will require that medical waste from abortion procedures be buried or cremated. He strongly condemned this law, saying it was cruel and will punish women. He added that abortion is health care, and health care is a right. He concluded that the General Assembly could instead have spent its time passing school funding reform or Aisha’s Law, rather than this unnecessary legislation. 

Mr. Ungar said there will be lots going on in planning and development in 2021, but this should not move forward until a new planning director is in place. He stated that the city manager and law director and their teams are moving forward to plan for the transition to an elected mayor. He expressed appreciation to Chief Mecklenberg and the police department for their attention to gun violence and thanked them for timely reports. He promised a Public Safety and Health Committee meeting on gun violence soon, including practical suggestions about what residents can do if an incident occurs.

The next regular meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m.

LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 9:57 AM, 01.29.2021